Smith named recipient of IA’s 2020 Innovator Award

-Irrigation Association
Courtesy photo

FAIRFAX, Va. – The Irrigation Association is excited to announce that Stephen W. Smith, PhD, FASIC, CAIS, CLIA, of Fort Collins, Colo., has been named the recipient of the 2020 Innovator Award. The IA’s Innovator Award honors individuals who have made significant, tangible contributions to the irrigation industry within the past five years.

Smith is being recognized for his work and vision related to the creation and development of the Irrigation Innovation Consortium located in Fort Collins. The IIC is a collaboration of public and private partnerships working together to accelerate the development and adoption of water-efficient irrigation technologies and practices. The IIC also represents years of work and dedication by Smith to gather the support and participation necessary for this important endeavor. Smith was able to secure $10 million in private funding over five years from a group of nonfederal supporters including dozens of industry partners, five nationally recognized universities and a 1:1 matching grant from the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research.

“I’ve had the unique opportunity to watch Stephen’s vision of an Irrigation Innovation Consortium go from a vision to reality,” said IA CEO Deborah Hamlin, CAE, FASAE. “Stephen’s hard work and dedication is not only realized through the creation of the IIC but also the benefits the IIC will provide to the irrigation industry for years to come.”

Since its creation in 2018, the IIC has funded numerous agriculture and landscape irrigation projects. Smith’s work helped pave the way for this much-needed consolidated national platform for facilitating and funding the research and testing of emerging irrigation technologies and innovations for many years.

“The Irrigation Innovation Consortium was truly a team effort,” Smith said. “The IIC has a bright future and receiving the IA’s Innovator Award is an incredible honor and came as quite a wonderful surprise. I’m convinced the IIC and the IA will help drive irrigation innovation in positive ways for many years into the future.”

Smith will be a featured guest on an upcoming episode of the IA’s Bringing Water to Life podcast, and the IA will host an online discussion in early fall with him and the 2020 Industry Achievement Award recipients about their views on the future of the irrigation industry. More information about this and other IA awards and past recipients can be found at


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