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Gary A. "Pete" Peterson

Photo of Gary Peterson

Degrees Awarded

  • B.S. University of Nebraska – 1963
  • M.S. University of Nebraska – 1965
  • Ph.D. Iowa State University – 1967
  • Years at CSU – 1984-2011


Awards and Recognition

  • Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Nebraska, 1973
  • Ciba-Geigy Award, American Society of Agronomy, 1974
  • Fellow American Society of Agronomy, 1982
  • Fellow Soil Science Society of America, 1982
  • Colorado State Agronomy Club “Outstanding Educator of the Year”, 1985, 1990, 2000, 2003
  • Soil Science Applied Research Award, Soil Sci. Soc. of Am., 1987
  • Research Team Award by Great Plains Agriculture Council, 1990
  • Agronomic Achievement Award – Soils, Am. Soc. of Agron., 1990
  • Outstanding Educator Award – Rocky Mountain Plant Food Assn., 1992
  • NACTA/Shepardson Outstanding Teaching Award, 1993
  • Researcher of the Year Award – Fluid Fertilizer Foundation, 1996
  • Gamma Sigma Delta Research Merit Award, 1999
  • President Soil Science Society of America, 2008
  • Fellow Soil and Water Conservation Society, 2008
  • Fellow American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2010
  • College of Agricultural Sciences Distinguished Career Award, 2011
  • Distinguished Individual Award, Rocky Mountain Agribusiness Association, 2012
  • Soil Science Distinguished Service Award, Soil Sci. Soc. of Am., 2012
  • Distinguished Service Award, Am. Soc. of Agronomy, 2014

“Pete” was born at Holdrege, Nebraska in 1940, and grew up on a small irrigated corn farm two miles north of Funk, NE.  His formative education was in a one-room, one-teacher school in Phelps County.  Pete graduated from Holdrege High School, “The Dusters”, in 1958.


The first 17 years (1967-1984) of Dr. Peterson’s career were at the University of Nebraska teaching Introductory Soil Science, Soil Management, and Soil Chemistry Methods.  His research in Nebraska focused on soil fertility for wheat and sugar beet production.  Pete’s interest in no-till and water conservation was sparked by interactions with Nebraska Prof. C.A. Fenster.  His career research emphasis was on applications of soil science principles to the solution of field related soil management problems.


“Pete” joined the Department of Agronomy at CSU as a Full Professor in 1984.  His move from Nebraska to CSU came as a direct result of the leadership of Dr. Wayne Keim, and he filled the position of the recently retired Dr. Ken Brengle, leader of the CSU dryland agricultural research program.


Pete was co-creator with Dr. Jack Fenwick of two innovative, highly successful, team-taught senior level classes in Crop and Soil Management Systems.  In 1985, “Pete” and Dr. Dwayne Westfall created the “Dryland Agroecosystem Project” at CSU, which achieved international recognition and was a collaborative effort with the USDA-ARS.  Pete was major professor for 22 M.S. and 18 Ph.D. students.  He served as Editor, Soils-Technical Editor, and Soils-Associate Editor of Agronomy Journal, and Editor-in-Chief of ASA.  He served as President of the SSSA in 2008.  After 19 years at CSU in teaching and research Pete became Head of the Soil and Crop Sciences Department at CSU in 2003 from which he retired in 2011.   Pete currently serves as Historian for the American Society of Agronomy. Pete’s career personified the land-grant philosophy: he was a truly exceptional teacher in the classroom; his research addressed problems faced by production agriculture using the latest available technologies; he engaged with clientele and scientists and communicated with all audiences using a highly effective style; and his administrative approach fostered teamwork and advancing all faculty and their programs.  A truly outstanding faculty member and administrator!

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