Transforming Agriculture, Perennially


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Wes Jackson, co-founder and president emeritus, retires from The Land Institute

Wes Jackson, the co-founder and president emeritus of The Land Institute, has announced his retirement from the organization, effective January 11, 2024. Jackson, who established The Land Institute with Dana Jackson in 1976 and served as its president for 40 years until 2016, is fully retiring after a long and visionary career. Since 2017, he has mentored the organization’s presidents and leadership team while continuing his own intellectual explorations, writing, and educating in the Ecosphere Studies program.

Rachel Stroer, President of The Land Institute, expressed her appreciation of Jackson’s invaluable teachings. “Wes taught me to relentlessly pursue a future that reconciles the human economy with nature’s economy. His ideas are foundational to how we pursue the vision of an agriculture set to nature’s standard. With the support of our researchers, donors, and partners, we are optimistic we will achieve the agricultural future Wes envisioned.” Since 2016, The Land Institute has grown substantially, doubling its staff and annual budget and expanding its global network to 170 collaborators in 31 countries.

Jackson is a 1992 MacArthur Fellow, renowned author, plant geneticist, and emeritus professor of Biology. He is widely recognized as one of the foremost figures in the international sustainable agriculture movement. He authored and co-authored numerous books, including the seminal New Roots for Agriculture, conceptualizing the idea of The Land Institute’s work on natural systems agriculture modeled on and inspired by the Kansas prairie. Jackson is also the author of the recent books Hogs Are Up: Stories of the Land, with Digressions, and An Inconvenient Apocalypse.

Julia Olmsted, the chairperson of The Land Institute board of directors, thanked Jackson for his tireless dedication to this perennial vision. “Wes grew the organization into a globally respected scientific research institution and profoundly changed how society thinks about the problems of food and agriculture in the context of the limits of our planet.”

The family of long-time board members and donors Sam and Terry Evans made The Land Institute’s first donation in 1976. “Our family business, Evans Grain, understood the importance of grains in feeding the world. Inspired by Wes Jackson’s vision for perennial grains that perform–ecologically and culturally–like the deeply rooted native prairie, we were contributing to a legacy that would thrive beyond our lifetimes,” says Evans. “We continue to support The Land Institute today. Under Rachel Stroer’s collaborative leadership, we’re confident a future with perennial grains can be realized at a global scale. We wish Wes all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”


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