Welcome to Borlaug’s Army—a recruitment, engagement, and outreach effort of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). If you have never heard of us, that’s OK. You’re in good company! Many people have never heard of Norman Borlaug, either.
Who was Norman Borlaug? Norman Borlaug, a plant pathologist educated at the University of Minnesota, is the only agricultural scientist ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He was recognized in 1970 for his pioneering development of high-yielding and disease-resistant cereal crops. By that year, Dr. Borlaug’s work had saved more than 1 billion (yes, that’s billion with a b) people from starvation, based on conservative estimates. Working under dire conditions and toiling in relative obscurity (often in the midst of border wars), Dr. Borlaug improved the lives of billions of people in the developing world. It’s quite possible that no other human being has saved as many lives. For these accomplishments, Dr. Borlaug is known as the “Father of the Green Revolution.” The world may be an imperfect place, but it’s also a far better place because he lived and worked here. (Dr. Borlaug died in 2009 at the age of 95.)
Learn more about Norman Borlaug:
APS Award of DistinctionNormal Borlaug Heritage FoundationWikipedia
Feed the world. Make a difference. The world’s population is on track to reach 9 billion by 2030. It will take a second Green Revolution to feed that population while preserving the quality of the environment. That’s the mission of Borlaug’s Army. We are the plant doctors and scientists who will help develop and protect the world’s food supply. If you are interested in having a career with the potential to save 1 billion people, we’d like you to join us. The name Borlaug’s Army comes from the speech Dr. Borlaug gave upon accepting the Nobel Peace Prize:
Obviously, I am personally honored beyond all dreams by my election. But the obligations imposed by the honor are far greater than the honor itself, both as concerns me personally and also the army of hunger fighters in which I voluntarily enlisted a quarter of a century ago for a lifetime term. I am acutely conscious of the fact that I am but one member of that vast army.
What is a plant pathologist? A plant doctor. A plant pathologist specializes in plant health in the same way that a physician specializes in human health. Keeping plants healthy requires understanding how various organisms cause disease and how plants are harmed by disease. Plant pathologists work with all major food crops, as well as fruits and vegetables, forests and flowers. You name it, and we are engaged in making it better and preserving its health. Our work is mission oriented with the ultimate goal of helping people. We are a low-visibility but high-impact profession, and we need the best and the brightest to join in our work.
How can you join Borlaug’s Army?
You can explore plant pathology as an undergraduate scholar. Research experiences for undergraduates (REUs) are available across the U.S. university system, in government labs, and in industry. Many offer generous stipends, plus housing and travel assistance. Find them here.
You can become a plant pathologist. Programs leading to master’s and PhD degrees in plant pathology are offered by a number of universities across the United States. Find them here.
You can join APS. We are the professional society of plant pathology, offering invaluable opportunities to develop an effective professional network. No other society engages in advocacy for our critical mission or offers as many helpful services to its members. Learn more about APS and join here.
You can help us spread the word. APS is the largest publisher and distributor of educational materials on the importance of plant disease and maintaining plant health, and much of what we produce is available to teachers free of charge. We can help teachers at all levels—from kindergarten to college—who would like access to the materials from the online APS Education Center. Contact us about educational materials.