Business News for the Mississippi Delta

Archie Tucker

Leading the Way for USDA-ARS in the Southeast Area By Becky Gillette  •  Photography by Johnny Jennings  L eland native Archie Tucker started out as a sixteen-year-old high school student working as a biological aide in the Southern Insect Management Research Unit at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at Stoneville. He rode his bike five minutes to work that involved rearing large numbers of agricultural pests in a controlled environment—something that hadn’t been done before—which involved developing an artificial insect diet, and determining appropriate environmental conditions such as temperature, lighting, and humidity. The purpose of the project was to rear large quantities of insects to be used by entomologists in field studies across the Southeast and in the Virgin Islands. “I was always fascinated by doing things that have never been done before,” says Tucker. “I was working around all these Ph.D. scientists and people from all over the world. It made me hungry for working in that kind of environment.” After graduating from Leland High School, he earned a B.S. degree in business administration from Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU). Then he spent the next forty-seven years working at the ARS in Stoneville climbing the ranks to serve as Biological Laboratory Technician, Area Property Management Officer, Assistant Area Director, Deputy Area Director, Area Administrative Officer, and Associate Area Director. He is now Area Director for the Southeast Area of ARS headquartered in Stoneville, which covers nine southeastern states and Puerto Rico. He oversees the work of 1,542 full-time personnel including 482 Ph.D. scientists at twenty-seven different research locations with an annual budget of $325.5 million. National ARS Administrator Simon Liu, Ph.D., says Tucker wears many hats with great success.  “He is particularly skilled at partnering with our stakeholders,” says Liu. “He always wants to learn as much as possible about the issues that are important to them and figure out how ARS can help solve those issues. He also has a firm commitment to working with schools and universities to train the next generation of scientists and support staff who will be needed to ensure ARS continues to excel at supporting farmers, consumers, and industry regionally and nationally.”

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