Nathan Stone, Extension specialist-section leader for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) Aquaculture/Fisheries Center, has received a regional Excellence in Extension Award from the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.

Regional award recipients are recognized as a select group of Cooperative Extension System educators who excel at Extension programming, make a positive impact on constituents served and provide visionary leadership for the system.

“Dr. Stone has had a remarkable career as an Extension educator and has made a tremendous impact on the aquaculture industry,” James Garner, interim dean/director of research and Extension programs at UAPB, said. “I believe that he is most deserving of this honor and recognition.”

Since 1988, Stone has worked as part of an integrated research and Extension team at UAPB that has helped Arkansas to be a leader in warmwater aquaculture production in the United States. This diverse industry produces a variety of food fish, sport fish, bait and ornamental species. The vast majority of fish farms are family operations and small businesses. UAPB aquaculture/fisheries specialists and researchers provide support for those fish farmers and farm pond owners through its Aquaculture/Fisheries Center of Excellence.

Stone has been instrumental in developing innovative programs that have served as models for regional and national initiatives. These include leading the development of the first research verification program in aquaculture that led to subsequent regional efforts. He was instrumental in development of Best Management Practices for baitfish. These were the first developed for this industry and were adopted by the Arkansas Bait and Ornamental Fish Growers Association.

The new Arkansas Bait and Ornamental Fish Certification program has generated intense interest nationally and is expected to serve as a model for reducing the spread of disease and aquatic nuisance species. The scale-neutral baitfish hatchery technologies that he developed through his research formed the basis for the commercial hatcheries used throughout the industry.

With his knowledge of science, aquaculture and fish politics, Stone provides important insights that help the Center to better serve the citizens of Arkansas and the rest of the aquaculture industry. He received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and his master’s degree and doctorate degree from Auburn University.