SDSU welcomes new horticulture faculty member, Extension specialist

South Dakota State University Extension
Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S.D. — The South Dakota State University department of agronomy, horticulture and plant dcience, along with SDSU Extension, has named Kristine Lang to serve as an assistant professor and Extension specialist in consumer horticulture. A native of Pelican Rapids, Minn., Lang brings an extensive background in horticulture research and community outreach to her new role.

“We are delighted to have Kristine Lang join our horticulture team. Her enthusiasm and passion for working with others who love horticultural plants is unmatched,” said David Wright, SDSU agronomy, horticulture and plant science department head and professor in a news release. “Her talents and knowledge of ornamental plants and vegetable crops are a perfect fit for SDSU Extension. She will lead the development and distribution of environmentally sound best management practices for ornamental landscapes and vegetable crop production on small-scale farms.”

“SDSU Extension is privileged to have Dr. Lang join our team of professionals,” said Karla Trautman, SDSU Extension director. “Kristine has already gotten off to a great start, meeting with colleagues and constituents. We are so excited to have her expertise and passion for horticulture production as a part of our outreach portfolio, and we look forward to her leadership in providing impactful educational programs, information and resources for the citizens of South Dakota.”

Prior to joining SDSU, Lang served as an Extension scientist for the Rodale Institute at the Midwest Organic Center in Marion, Iowa, where she assisted farmers across 12 states as they navigated the National Organic Program standards during the 36-month transition period to U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic production. This assistance ranged from providing organic market and seed source options to addressing agronomic concerns, such as cover crop establishment or weed management.

During her formative years as a horticulturalist, Lang worked for three local garden centers, served as a design intern for two natural playgrounds and worked briefly as a florist. She spent two years as the assistant greenhouse manager for the Agricultural Experiment Station Research Greenhouse at North Dakota State University, where her she managed the integrated pest management program for five campus greenhouse facilities.

Lang holds a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and communication from the University of Minnesota-Crookston and a doctorate in horticulture and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. Her dissertation examined how high tunnel vegetable crop production could be optimized through grafting, cultivar selection and microclimate modification.

Lang credits her father for her passion for horticulture — from home gardening and landscaping to garden center management and large-scale food crop production. She hopes her broad set of horticultural experiences will equip her to address a variety of consumer questions from across the state. She is also excited to join the ongoing work to support South Dakota specialty crop producers by designing relevant, applied research projects.

“I hope to empower more South Dakotans to take up gardening and feel confident in gardening, and support Master Gardeners in their important work of local outreach,” Lang said. “I’m also really excited to work alongside staff at McCrory Gardens to celebrate public gardens as both a teaching and research tool. One of my goals is to provide relevant programming on gardening and small farms topics that the public is really interested in. I also want to amplify local food production through research and outreach by building relationships with specialty crop producers and working with SDSU Extension colleagues, the Local Foods Education Center on campus and partner organizations across the state.”

Lang