Innovator Award

2019 Nominations

The Irrigation Association is now accepting nominations for the 2019 Innovator Award. To nominate an individual, submit an application here.

The Innovator Award honors individuals who have made significant, tangible contributions to the industry within the past five years. Nominees should be individuals representing IA member organizations or technical members of the IA.

Multiple awards may be given, based on nominations. Recipients may be awarded this honor more than once in their lifetime, based on accomplishments throughout their career.

Award Winners


Robert Starr and Mike Baron for their creation of The Water Zone radio program
The Toro Company

The Water Zone is a radio program that focuses on key topics surrounding water and providing solutions to improve water efficiency. The idea for the program came about during the time that California was in a severe drought. Hosts Rob Starr and Mike Baron of the Toro Company contacted a local radio station and brainstormed the idea of doing a talk radio show discussing the water shortage and how to resolve concerns to keep plants alive.

With more than 50 years of experience in the irrigation industry, Starr and Baron were very effective in helping educate homeowners and consumers. The Water Zone explained that with proper use of water, a property owner could keep his landscape healthy, despite the drought restrictions.

Since the show’s introduction, a stream of key guests has appeared including state legislators, water agency general managers, meteorologists, horticulturists, authors, agricultural specialists, landscape contractors, residential builders, and real estate industry professionals.