Emmit Rawls Receives NAMA’s Outstanding Advisor Award

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Common Ground’s Accolades missed this outstanding honor presented to Emmit Rawls when it occurred, and we apologize for its omission. We want to share the news because this national honor is a recognition of his significant achievements serving the University of Tennessee Knoxville NAMA chapter as well as advancing our students’ career development and success. Congratulations, Dr. Rawls!

by Tina M. Johnson

The National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) presented Emmit Rawls with its 2019 Outstanding Advisor Award in recognition for his work with the University of Tennessee Knoxville NAMA agri-marketing team.

This award was created and named for the UT Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics’ own John B. Riley after his passing in 2013. A professor in the department, Riley was the longstanding faculty advisor to the university’s NAMA chapter.

Rawls came out of retirement in 2013 from his distinguished career with UT Extension to advise undergraduate students as they prepared to represent UT in the national agri-marketing competition.

During his time in this role, the team has consistently placed in the top ten of land-grant schools from across the US. He was nominated for this award as the result of a letter-writing campaign from a number of current and former students.

Rawls continues to serve as a volunteer advisor. This position was the first experience he had working with undergraduate students, since, in his previous Extension role, his focus was on working with fellow Extension specialists and agents, and partnering with them to directly serve Tennesseans through Extension outreach programs.

This experience proved to be very valuable in helping students develop professional presentation and communication skills, says chapter advisor Jon Walton, senior lecturer and undergraduate director for AREC. Many of the students Rawls advised in NAMA have gone on to successful careers in a variety of fields and cite him as a major influence.

One of those students is 2017 graduate Kristen Walker, who now serves as a regional field director for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. Walker says Rawls was a superb coach, and so much more.

“Dr. Rawls was retired when he began advising our team,” Walker says. “Yet he would take time out of his day to help us and was always available to go over tips and tricks to draw upon in our competitions, and the knowledge we needed to succeed. He was a selfless advisor for us.”

Walker says Rawls wanted the best for team members, not only for their chapter, but also for each of them individually, for their personal and career success.

The John B. Riley Award was presented during the National Agri-Marketing Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. Fittingly, Rawls received the honor from a student, UT food and agricultural business major Ty Wolaver. Wolaver is now a graduate student in the department.


Tina Johnson

Agricultural and Resource Economics