Irrigation Association announces award winners

The Irrigation Association named the winners of its 2023 Industry Achievement Award and 2023 Excellence in Education Award.
Toro’s Craig Borland was awarded the 2023 Industry Achievement Award; Rutgers’ Robert Dobson was awarded the 2023 Excellence in Education Award.

The Irrigation Association, Fairfax, Virginia, named the winners of its 2023 Industry Achievement Award and 2023 Excellence in Education Award.  

The winners of both awards have spent decades working in the irrigation industry and hold numerous Irrigation Association certifications.  

The 2023 Industry Achievement Award was awarded to Craig Borland, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA, CLWM, of The Toro Company, Bloomington, Minnesota. 

The award is the IA’s highest honor and recognizes an individual whose career demonstrates outstanding contributions to the advancement of the irrigation industry. 

“Craig Borland’s generous dedication and passion for the industry is evident through the numerous hours he spends sharing his experience with those new to the industry, teaching new learners best practices and helping experienced irrigators discover emerging technology,” says IA CEO Natasha Rankin, MBA, CAE. “Throughout his time in the industry, he has influenced the careers of thousands of professionals and has been an unwavering advocate for the irrigation industry and the IA.” 

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,” Borland says. “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!” 

The 2023 Excellence in Education Award was presented to Robert Dobson, CIC, CID, CLIA, of Rutgers University. This award recognizes an outstanding educator who teaches irrigation, water management or water conservation and has a commitment to not only elevating the level of education but also promoting the field of irrigation as a viable and sustainable career to students. 

“Bob Dobson is truly one of our industry’s most valuable contributors,” says Rankin. “During his accomplished career, he has contributed to the irrigation industry’s success as a business owner, long-time instructor, author, course developer and volunteer association leader. In addition to enriching the IA’s education and certification programs, his contributions have led to many advancements enjoyed by the industry today.” 

Dobson is a past member of the Irrigation Association Board of Directors and served as president of the association 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. In high school and college, my career aspiration was to be a teacher,” says Dobson. “As many of you may know, I have had a 50+ 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.” 

In addition to Dobson, this year’s Excellence in Education Award was also presented to Aavudai Anandhi, PhD, PE. Dobson and the other 2023 IA award recipients will be recognized during the Irrigation Show and Education Week in San Antonio Nov. 27-Dec. 1. The 2023 IA awards are sponsored by Hunter Industries. 

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