Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors



The Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors (WAAESD), one of five such regional associations, is comprised of 13 western states and the 4 Pacific trust territories which make up the western region.  The 1890 universities (historically black serving institutions) also have a similar association of research directors.

The Research and Marketing Act of 1946 set aside 25% of Title 1, Section 9 (Hatch funds) for regional research.  The WAAESD was subsequently organized in 1948 in part to aid in planning and management of research activities important to the region.  The Congressional requirement that all agricultural experiment stations spend 25% of the Hatch formula fund allocation on regional research also contributed to the formation of the association.  This regional commitment was redefined in the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 to “multistate research”, the multistate research fund (MRF) was created, and there were new requirements for integrated multistate research and extension activities.

The WAAESD employs Dr. Bret W. Hess as Executive Director and Jennifer Horton as Administrative Management. Together they manage the region’s portfolio of multistate projects and other functions. These duties include program management, regular needs assessments, facilitating project development and review, and assuring accountability.  The office serves as the principal liaison with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) of USDA. The regional office is supported through a pro rata assessment of its members.

In 2001, the WAAESD partnered with the directors of cooperative extension and academic programs in the western region with a commitment to develop increased functional integration of multistate activities.  The commitment has resulted in new multistate activities driven by Extension and/or Academic Programs as well as increased participation in other western region multistate projects by extension faculty.

The office of Western Directors Association manages between 60-80 multistate projects.  About half of these are “research” projects, supported by the MRF, which must meet a number of criteria including both regional and USDA approval.  The remaining projects are Coordinating Committees (CCs) and integrated Extension/Education Research Activities (ERAs) which involve research. extension and/or education.

The regional Executive Directors have national responsibilities within the Experiment Station Section (ESS), and the Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy (ESCOP), formed in 1905, which is the executive governing body for the ESS under the Board on Agriculture Assembly within the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU)   The Executive Directors provide crucial support to all ESCOP activities and to the national agenda with USDA and Congress.

The Western Director’s office is located in Reno, NV. Telephone: 307-760-3319. Please also see https://www.waaesd.org

Members of the WAAESD:

  • WAAESD: Dr. Bret W. Hess, Executive Director; Ms. Jennifer Tippetts, Coordinator of Events & Operations
    Established: 1948
    Website: https://www.waaesd.org/
    States/Territories: AK, CA, OR, ID, NV, UT, AZ, NM, HI, CO, WY, MT, WA, GU, NMI, FSM, AS

Members of Other Regional Associations:

  • NERA: Dr. Richard C. Rhodes III, Executive Director; 
Mr. David Leibovitz, Admin. Assistant
    Established: 1947
    Website: http://www.nera.umd.edu/
    States: WV, MD, PA, NY, NJ, DE, DC, CT, RI, MA, NH, VT, ME
  • NCRA: Jeanette Thurston, Executive Director; Christine Hamilton, Assistant Director and NIMMS System Admin
    Established: 1947
    Website: https://www.ncra-saes.org/director-s-office
    States: ND, SD, NE, KS, MN, IA, MO, WI, IL, IN, OH, MI
  • SAAESD: Gary A. Thompson, Executive Director; Cindy Morley, Program Coordinator
    Established: 1946
    Website: https://saaesd.org/about-saaesd/
    States: OK, TX, LA, MS, AL, AR, GA, FL, SC, NC, TN, KY, VA, PR, VI
  • ARD: Alton Thompson, Executive Director
    Established: 1972
    Website: https://www.umes.edu/ARD/
    Universities: Alabama A & M Univ., Alcorn State Univ., Delaware State Univ., Florida A & M Univ., Fort Valley State Univ., Kentucky State Univ., Langston Univ., Lincoln Univ., North Carolina A & T State Univ., Prairie View A & M Univ., South Carolina State Univ., Southern University and A&M College, Tennessee State Univ., Tuskegee Univ., University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff, University of Maryland – Eastern Shore, Virginia State Univ., West Virginia State College

Brief WAAESD History

  • WAAESD hires “Recording Secretary” (1960)
  • The first “Directors at Large”
    • George Browning, NCRA (Apr. 1966)
    • Louis E. Hawkins, SAAESD (Oct. 1966)
    • Mark Buchanan, WAAESD (Feb. 1967)
    • Henry R. Fortmann*, NERA (fall 1967)

Western DAL/Executive Directors

  • Mark Buchanan, DAL (1967-1983)
  • Lannie Boyd, DAL (1985 – 1992)
  • Robert D. Heil, DAL (title change to Executive Director 1992) (1992-2001)
  • H. Michael Harrington, ED (2001-2019)
  • Dr. Bret W. Hess, ED (2019-current)

A History of Research Policy and Procedure

  • Knoblach, Law and Meyer (1962)
  • The Legacy – A Centennial History of the State Agricultural Experiment Stations
  • Kerr (1987)

Contact Us

Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors
5890 Brittania Drive
Reno, NV 89523
Phone: (307) 760-3319