Donald E. Hershman was born in Harrisburg, PA. He received his B.A. degree in biology from West Chester State College (1978) and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology from Rutgers University (1981 and 1983, respectively). He joined the faculty in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Kentucky (UK) in 1984 as an assistant extension professor (100% extension) with responsibility for grain crop diseases in west Kentucky. Hershman was promoted to associate extension professor in 1989 and to extension professor in 1995. He currently has statewide responsibilities for small grain and soybean diseases, with a continuing 100% extension appointment.
Hershman developed a highly productive and balanced program with significant local, regional, and national impact. He is recognized by his peers and clientele for his excellence in extension programming; his record of service to his profession is exemplary. His many invited presentations, his numerous regional/national publications, and particularly the major leadership roles he has assumed attest to his national standing.
Throughout his career, Hershman has placed great emphasis on professional service and leadership activities. From 1998 to 2004, he was chair of the Exam and Procedures Committee and was on the Board of Directors for the 13,600-member International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) Program. In the former role, he was responsible for the development and maintenance of exams and performance objective modules. In addition, he oversaw the implementation of Standard Operating Procedures for exam maintenance for 37 “Local Boards” throughout the United States and Canada. In appreciation of his efforts, Hershman was given the organization’s 2004 Outstanding Service Award. Locally, he has been on the Kentucky CCA Board since 1996 and concluded his final year as board chair in 2006.
Hershman played significant roles in the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative. He served as vice chair of the Chemical and Biological Control Research Area Committee from 2001 to 2005, working closely with others to review and recommend funding (ca. $400,000+ annually) of research proposals to the Executive Committee. Hershman was responsible for data collection, analysis, and summarization for the multistate Uniform Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) Fungicide Trials. Data from these trials have been used to defend multiple FHB fungicide section 18 requests to the Environmental Protection Agency. Hershman also serves his local wheat clientele in superior fashion. He developed four successful section 18 requests (2004–2007), which allowed producers to use tebuconazole to manage FHB in Kentucky. Over the years, Hershman has written a large number of wheat disease extension publications and has made more than 275 wheat disease presentations at grain days, field days, and commodity meetings since 1984. As part of the UK Wheat Science group, he helps coordinate wheat outreach activities and research.
Currently, Hershman is a leader in the U.S. response to the soybean rust (SBR) threat. His activities were instrumental in the development and implementation of effective disease surveillance activities. In 2005, he developed two listservs to facilitate professional communication on SBR. These listservs were cited as a success story in the 2006 General Accounting Office report, GAO-06-337. As coordinator for the Southern SBR Sentinel Network, Hershman moderates a weekly national teleconference and facilitates funding activities. He is frequently quoted in the mainstream press. In addition, he coedited and was an author of the national publication Using Foliar Fungicides to Manage Soybean Rust. Nearly 275,000 copies of this publication have been distributed to date. He was lead author of Soybean Rust Fungicide Use Guidelines, which resides on the USDA SBR website. This publication has been used by numerous state extension specialists as a template for their SBR fungicide recommendations. Hershman coordinated the highly successful 2006 National SBR Symposium. His importance to the SBR response was validated when he, as part of a team, received the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture’s 2006 Honor Award. A related role, currently being played by Hershman, is chair of the Steering Committee of the IPM-PIPE, a multiagency, multiorganizational, multi-institutional extension, educational, and pest informational activity. Hershman’s national SBR and IPM-PIPE activities have not been at the expense of his Kentucky clientele. He maintains a heavily used SBR toll-free hotline, uses an extensive e-mail list to communicate with clientele, developed and maintains the Kentucky SBR website, and uses a host of other outreach methods to disseminate SBR information to Kentuckians.
Hershman maintains an active applied research program, primarily involving diseases of soybean and wheat. The focus of this program is to improve disease control recommendations and to develop new strategies in keeping with UK’s land-grant mission. In addition to receiving grant awards from several national and regional sources, his program has been well supported by Kentucky commodity groups ($355,300) and industry ($366,000). He has published a wealth of notes, reports, abstracts, and articles in a range of proceedings, technical publications, and refereed journals. Hershman also used his writing skills as an associate editor for Plant Disease in 2000–2002, a senior editor for Plant Disease in 2004, and a section editor for Biological and Cultural Control of Plant Diseases (2002–2004) and Fungicide and Nematicide Tests (1986–1994). He has reviewed 108 manuscripts from seven journals since 1984 and has been on four regional or national grant review panels.
Hershman has received numerous awards and honors for his extension service. In addition to those already noted, he received the inaugural UK College of Agriculture Extension Impact Award in 2006 and was recipient of the 2005 Kentucky Soybean Association Distinguished Service Award. He received excellence awards for educational materials from the American Society of Agronomy (1998, 2000, 2006) and the American Society of Horticulture (1990). He received five awards (1988–2005) from the Kentucky Association of State Extension Professionals, including their Outstanding New Specialist Award. The Southern Soybean Disease Workers recognized him with their Junior Distinguished Service Award in 1987 and the Presidential Service Award in 1991.