Issue No. 9, Article 3/May 22, 2009
A Tribute to Kevin Steffey, Extension Entomologist Extraordinaire
As readers of the Bulletin know by now, my close friend, mentor, and colleague retired last week and began a new career in the private sector. Kevin will be missed by many, but most especially by the clientele he served so very well for 30 years at the University of Illinois. It was my distinct pleasure to work with Kevin for over 21 years. We both greatly enjoyed our on-farm corn rootworm research collaborations with producers through the years. His departure leaves a very big hole in the applied field crop research and extension entomology program, a hole that will not be filled. Because of continuing budgetary challenges and shifting priorities, this scenario (loss of applied research and extension positions) has taken place at many of our land-grant institutions during the past 20 years.
The photograph of Kevin here was taken in the early 1980s, not long after he began his career at the University of Illinois. It shows him in a producer's field scouting for insects--something he enjoyed very much. Through the years, Kevin brought passionate leadership to many significant University of Illinois Extension programs, including the "Spray School," which later morphed into the Crop Protection Technology Conference. With a few other extension specialists in the Department of Crop Sciences, Kevin also was a key player in creating the very successful Corn and Soybean Classics. During the past several years, Kevin began to provide regional leadership for extension entomologists in the north-central states. Many of them provided moving tributes to Kevin prior to his departure from our campus.
Kevin Steffey, Extension Entomologist, University of Illinois (circa early 1980s).
Kevin exemplified a philosophy that the first extension entomologist in Illinois, Pete Petty, encouraged his colleagues to follow: "Work hard and play hard." I look forward to seeing Kevin at future Entomological Society of America meetings. As he indicated in his last article for the Bulletin--he will continue to be an entomologist. --Mike Gray