|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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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."