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Purdue Ag Alumni Association volunteer earns national awardor others

"Ben Carter is an outstanding servant leader for the Purdue Ag Alumni Association and the College of Agriculture,” said Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of the College of Agriculture. “He is always there to lend a helping hand, whether it is at alumni events, the state fair, or helping to advocate for agriculture. He can be counted on to deliver in all circumstances and does it with a smile.”

On June 18, the National Agricultural Alumni Development Association (NAADA) presented Carter with its Volunteer Service Award. The annual honor “is presented to an individual who has given freely of their time to further the goals of a NAADA member institution and has demonstrated leadership and organizational skills to inspire and encourage others.”

“My grandparents gave our family a legacy concerning our attitude toward volunteering and extension,” said Carter, a third-generation Purdue graduate. His grandfather and grandmother both graduated from the university in 1910. Carter earned a degree in agronomy in 1972. He returned to Purdue in 1995 to take a position as an Extension agronomist. His three children attended Purdue as well.

Now retired, Carter is one of the longest-serving members on the Purdue Ag Alumni Board of Directors. There, he is seen as a mentor and leader, providing historical knowledge.

“Ben sets the bar high for the rest of us,” said Erika Morris, president of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association. “He exudes loyalty, passion, service, and volunteerism, all to the benefit of our organization. He is a pleasure to work with and a fellow proud Purdue Ag Alumnus - very deserving of the NAADA Volunteer Service Award.”

Carter with goat

Carter is known as the Head Fishmonger, planning and coordinating the meal at Purdue’s Ag Alumni Fish Fry. Each year, between 1,200 and 2,300 attendees gather for the college’s signature event while Carter leads a team of over 100 volunteer servers. 

"Without Ben, the Fish Fry would not be possible,” said Danica Kirkpatrick, executive director of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association. “I rely so much on his historical knowledge of this event and have not worked with an alumnus more true to the spirit and fun of the Purdue Ag Fish Fry. He's my compass to make sure we're still doing it right."

Carter with volunteers at Fish Fry

Carter also raises money to pay for the restoration of the Ag Alumni Association’s antique farm equipment by planning the annual Pioneer Village auction at the Indiana State Fair. 

“Pioneer Village is a passion,” said Carter. “There are over 400 volunteers that help put it on, showing and expressing what is dear to us as history people. We’re able to show young people and adults alike that without the efforts of our pioneer forefathers, we wouldn’t be where we are today as a country.”

Ben PV tractor

“Ben’s commitment to Purdue is truly like adding another full-time staff member to the Ag Alumni Association office,” explained Kirkpatrick. “We are a small staff of 2.75 full-time employees, and we consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have a volunteer whose workload affords us the equivalent of another full-time employee. It allows us to focus our attention on other programs since we know that if Ben is assigned to a job, it will be done right.” 

“Purdue is near and dear to my heart,” said Carter. “It is very much a part of my family.”

Carter & John Purdue Statue



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