Palatka Daily News


Tuesday June 15, 2005

Dr. Edwin Price Jr. poses in front of workers scraping coconut meat from coconut shells in North Sulawaki, Indonesia. The workers were scraping the meat to squeeze out the coconut oil and keep it from going rancid. Courtesy Texas A&M University

Global Guru: Local alum honored for teaching others to beat poverty

Dr. Edwin Price Jr. means the world to Texas A&M University n which is fitting because the world, literally, is his classroom.

Price, a 1960 Palatka Senior High School graduate, was honored in May with the George H.W. Bush Excellence Award for outstanding public service "for his work with the Texas A&M system faculty on current projects in 40 countries that are valued at more than $37 million."

On June 6, in Washington, D.C., the 62-year-old Price received the Award for Distinguished Service by the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development.

"These are two of the nicest awards I've ever received because they both focus largely on public service," Price said by phone last week from his office in College Station, Texas. "The thing I like most about these two recent awards is that they are helping to recognize the importance of our international agricultural relationships for U.S. interests in foreign countries.

"I think more than me winning the awards, some of the nicest things have been helping other people win awards. Last year, for example, Dr. Monty Jones of Sierra Leone won the World Food Prize for his work on African rice. That's a world-class award."

A press release from Texas A&M said that among the reasons Price received the Bush Excellence Award was him overseeing the development of "nine new study abroad programs, the introduction of college-sponsored international internships and development of a master's certificate program international agriculture and resource management."

Price oversees programs that reach mostly Third World countries. Texas A&M professors and students, often in conjunction with other universities, or with the U.S. or foreign countries, are working to raise agricultural standards where it is needed most.

In Indonesia, for example, a Texas A&M program focuses on processing and packing tropical fruit.

In Afghanistan, a program has been designed for food and fiber processing.

In Iraq, a Texas A&M program is trying to help the country get back "basic food production" and in Africa there are programs for the improvement of rice varieties.


"Our goal is to increase incomes and reduce hunger throughout the world," Price said. "There is no region of the world that we do not touch.

"Where there is poverty, we go. That includes Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Central America. They all have different problems."

Price was raised in Priceville, Ala., growing up with first-cousin Milton Speakes, the late St. Johns River Community College professor.

He moved to Palatka in 1959 when his father, Dr. Edwin Price Sr., became dean at SJRCC, a position he would hold until 1966. His father now lives in Ormond Beach and Price still has family in Palatka, although he hasn't spent time here in about five years.

Although a resident of Houston, Bush's presidential library is on the Texas A&M campus and Price said he can often be seen there. Bush's presentation of the award was the second time he had gotten to spend time with the president.

"Both conversations were brief," Price said. "He's very interested in this kind of work. The first time I met him he was hosting a conference on our relations with China here on campus and another faculty member and I got to spend about 10 minutes with him.

"This time, my wife and I got to spend about five minutes with him. He's very interested in family and young people n very focused on family and children."

Price spends as much as six months per year abroad. The travel can be risky.

In September 2002, Price was with a group that became isolated behind rebel lines in Ivory Coast, Africa, while working on a rice breeding project. In the early morning hours of the 19th, his sleep was interrupted by bursts of machine gun fire.

Over the next week, Ivory Coast became an international hot spot with more than 200 U.S. students trapped by the rebels.


"The students came out first," Price said. "In my case, the U.S. did not come all the way because the French said they wanted to be the ones to open the way into the isolated cities. It was exactly seven days later before we crossed lines into U.S.-held territory.

"It was the most scared I've ever been in my life. But you don't think about things like that. You know the risks, but you concentrate on the task at hand."


Edwin has made a difference for a lot of people on the planet.  We are all pleased to see our friend and classmate receive a bit of recognition. 


If you'd like to drop him a note his e-mail address is on the roster.


If you'd like to see another photo of him "at work" and read some more about his last 45 years check the profile page: