Wes Jackson's roots in Kansas go deep - he grew up on a farm near Topeka, earned degrees at Kansas Wesleyan (Bachelor of Arts, 1958) and the University of Kansas (Master of Arts, 1960), and later taught biology at Kansas Wesleyan after earning a doctorate in genetics from North Carolina State University.
After establishing the Environmental Studies program at California State University, Sacramento, he returned to Kansas in 1976 to found The Land Institute, publishing "New Roots for Agriculture" in 1980 to outline his vision for developing sustainable crops for the prairie, crops whose roots will run deep, anchoring the soil. His vision is for a prairie carpeted with perennial grains that can be sustained without industrial fertilizers, oil-consuming tractors and mechanical irrigation.
Jackson has received the Pew Conservation Scholars award; a MacArthur Fellowship; the Right Livelihood Award, given for "outstanding vision and work on behalf of our planet and its people," and the Louis Bromfield Award, as well as the Distinguished Service Award and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Awards from KU.
Rolling Stone called him one of "100 agents of change." The Smithsonian designated him one of "35 who made a difference." And Life listed him as one of the 100 "important Americans of the 20th century."