Announcing: Award Recipients

2023 Irrigation Association Awards

As the 2023 Smart Irrigation Month comes to a close, the Irrigation Association is proud to announce the recipients of its annual awards. These awards honor those who have made significant contributions to the irrigation industry, and each recipient recognized this year is a true change-maker who has made unique and meaningful accomplishments toward furthering the industry and promoting efficient irrigation. The 2023 IA awards program is sponsored by Hunter Industries.

These recipients will be honored during the 2023 Irrigation Show and Education Week in San Antonio, Nov. 27-Dec. 1.

Industry Achievement Award

Craig Borland, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA, CLWM | The Toro Company

Craig Borland, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA, CLWM, is the recipient of the 2023 Industry Achievement Award. Borland has dedicated 28 years to the irrigation industry as an employee of The Toro Company. He provides irrigation technical support in the areas of product engineering, legal, marketing and landscape drip. His experience, knowledge and feedback has helped develop or improve products critical to the industry’s growth, and he spends countless hours in the field troubleshooting, improving and making recommendations that shape product enhancements and provide insight to real-world conditions. Borland has served as a volunteer instructor for the Irrigation Association for the past 22 years and is a member of the IA Education Committee. He is widely viewed as one the top experts on irrigation and leads efforts to promote excellence in experience and education.

“My Dad taught me from a very early age to wake up, show up and put in as much effort as you possibly can each and every day. He was right. I’ve tried to instill the same work ethic in my kids, and they are thriving. I’d like to thank them for tolerating all the late nights, early mornings and weekends that may have pulled me away from time with the family. I’d also like to thank my wife for sticking by me all these years. Thank you to Toro for supporting my ambition to teach with the Irrigation Association and improve efficiency in our industry. I am extremely grateful to the IA for honoring me with the 2023 Industry Achievement Award. It has been a pleasure to work with and give back to such an important organization for our industry!”

Excellence in Education Award

Aavudai Anandhi, PhD | Florida A&M

Aavudai Anandhi, PhD, is a recipient of the 2023 Excellence in Education Award. She is an associate professor specializing in irrigation and water management and has made numerous contributions to the development of irrigation-related coursework and certificate programs. When she joined Florida A&M, a historically Black university, she began transforming the educational experience of undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups, developing an irrigation and water management training program from the ground up with limited resources. Among the 101 historically Black colleges and universities in the United States, this program is one of only two biological and agricultural engineering programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

“I am honored and humbled to be recognized by the Irrigation Association with the Excellence in Education Award. I am grateful and appreciate the overwhelming support from my students, colleagues, administrators and the IA for encouraging me to use nontraditional teaching techniques to express my passion for natural resource conservation. I am indebted to my parents, teachers, mentors and aunts (Usha, Saroja) for instilling the joy of learning and to my family (Sankar, Sri, Emily), siblings, friends (especially Shreya, Deepa, Sasi, Visala) and neighbors for letting me experiment with these techniques in my garden, practice lazy gardening and for tolerating the obsession and messiness it can sometimes create. I am very happy and pleased by the Irrigation Association and my industry colleagues for setting the bar high, which is encouraging and motivating me to do more for our most treasured resource — water. I wish to use this opportunity to thank all who are working towards making our environment a better place to live in.”

Excellence in Education Award

Robert Dobson, CIC, CID, CLIA | Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School and the Office of Continuing Professional Education

Robert Dobson, CIC, CID, CLIA, is a recipient of the 2023 Excellence in Education Award. Dobson has been teaching irrigation for the Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School and the Office of Continuing Professional Education for 20 years. During this time, he has taught approximately 1,600 students in the two-year program alone. Dobson has worked developing irrigation courses, teaching and guiding students, and co-authoring books, including the IA’s Irrigation, Sixth Edition. With over 50 years of personal experience in the industry as the president of Middletown Sprinkler Company, Dobson is able to share his unique wealth of knowledge in best water management practices and real-world challenges and solutions with his students. Dobson is a past member of the Irrigation Association Board of Directors and served as president in 2013. He also served as the chair of the IA Certification Board.

“I am honored to have been selected as the recipient of the Irrigation Association 2023 Excellence in Education Award. I would like to thank Laura Boyd and the Rutgers Faculty for nominating me. In high school and college, my career aspiration was to be a teacher. As many of you may know, I have had a 50+ plus year career as an irrigation contractor. Some 20 years ago, I was asked to consider teaching irrigation subjects at Rutgers. I am so grateful for that opportunity. It’s amazing how some things in life go full circle. Irrigation is such a crucial element in golf course and landscape management. It’s awesome to hear back from former students of how our class discussion of irrigation has benefited their turf management decisions.”