Plant Sciences Graduate Earns Top Honor

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Herbert College of Agriculture Graduate Brooke Keadle Finishes at the Top of the Class

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Brooke Keadle, a student in the Department of Plant Sciences, has graduated first in her class and summa cum laude at the University of Tennessee Herbert College of Agriculture. Keadle says, “I was humbled, because I did not expect the honor. I am grateful to have spent my time at UT.”

Keadle grew up in West Virginia. UT’s Appalachian setting reminded her of home, so she felt comfortable coming to Knoxville. Keadle’s family now lives in Salisbury, North Carolina.

In a high school course emphasizing agriculture and international food security, Keadle realized her passion for sustainable farming. Associate Professor David Butler was her advisor in the organic production concentration.

Keadle is the outgoing president of the Plant Sciences Club and was a founding member, reviving the organization after it had gone defunct. The group now is an integral part of UT student life. Keadle also was involved with her sorority Zeta Tau Alpha.

Serving as a research assistant at the East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center’s Organic Crops Unit, Keadle was integral to Associate Professor Natalie Bumgarner’s work. “For more than three years, Brooke’s initiative, curiosity and preciseness have been an important asset in writing Extension publications, conducting field trials and developing youth horticulture educational materials,” says Bumgarner.

Keadle has been accepted to the master of science in plant sciences program at UT and plans to study cover crops, their benefit to soil health and potential as viable biofuels. Assistant Professor Virginia Sykes will employ Keadle at her Agroecology and Variety Testing Laboratory.

Keadle aspires to work as an Extension agent and educate communities about sustainable agriculture. Undergraduate Advisor Andrew Pulte says, “Brooke is certainly one of the future stars of the green industry. She is a great student and a wonderful ambassador for our department.”

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Jake Nelson

Department of Plant Sciences