Description of RSS Awards & Competitions

We are no longer accepting applications for awards and competitions for 2018.  The next round of applications will begin October 2018 for the year 2019.

Information about RSS awards and competitions found below.

  • Distinguished Service to Rural Life
  • Distinguished Rural Sociologist
  • Excellence in Research
  • Excellence in Instruction
  • Excellence in Extension and Public Outreach
  • Certificate of Appreciation
  • The Fred Buttel Outstanding Scholarly Achievement Award 2018 (Book)
  • The Olaf Larson Graduate Student Paper Award
  • Master’s Thesis and Dissertation Research Award
  • Early Careers Research Award

Distinguished Service to Rural Life

The purpose of the Distinguished Service to Rural Life Awards is to recognize a person, organization, or collective who has made an outstanding contribution to the enhancement of rural life, rural people, or rural policy. Nominees should be individuals, organizations, or collectives whose activities exemplify the goals of the RSS. Nominees may or may not be RSS members. This award is intended to recognize excellence in non-academic settings, such as a non-governmental organization, government agency, or private firm.

2018 Award Recipients:

Reverend Robert B. Langseth

Distinguished Rural Sociologist

The purpose of the Distinguished Rural Sociologist is to honor one or more RSS members who have made superior career contributions to the field of rural sociology through research, teaching, extension, public service, and/or public policy. Awards are based on overall professional accomplishments in rural sociology.

2018 Award Recipients:

Daniel Lichter
Cornell University


Excellence in Research

The purpose of the Excellence in Research Award is to recognize a RSS member who has made outstanding contributions to rural-oriented research and/or theory. Note: The contributions of the nominee to substantive area of rural-oriented research and/or theory should be emphasized.

2018 Award Recipients:

Laura Raynolds
Colorado State University


Excellence in Instruction

The purpose of the Excellence in Instruction Award is to recognize outstanding rural-oriented teaching by a RSS member at the graduate and/or undergraduate level.  Note:  Innovation in teaching and learning should be emphasized. Innovation may relate to a particular course, thematic area, population of students or pedagogical approach or technique. Evidence of impact should be provided.


Excellence in Extension and Public Outreach

The purpose of the Excellence in Extension and Public Outreach Award is to honor an RSS member, working at a university or college, who has made significant contributions to extension and public outreach.  This award is intended to recognize public service excellence in academic settings. Excellence centers on having made a significant impact on rural residents, rural life, and/or rural policy. A specific program or area of outreach or extension should be highlighted.

2018 Award Recipients:

Jose Garcia-Pabon

Washington State University Extension


Certificate of Appreciation

The purpose of the Certificate of Appreciation is to honor RSS members who have provided outstanding service to the Society beyond the call of duty in a singular area of effort. The specific effort highlighted should not be associated with career accomplishments or service as an officer or committee chair in the Society.


The Olaf Larson Graduate Student Paper Award

The purpose of the Olaf Larson Graduate Student Paper Award is to enhance the involvement of graduate students in the RSS annual meeting, and to support their professional development. The nominee must be a current RSS member. The paper must be accepted for presentation at the RSS annual meeting in the year the award is made. The paper may be co- authored with another graduate student who is a RSS member, but not with a faculty member. Papers should be of normal journal article length and format (12 pt font, double-spaced, 20-30 pages inclusive). Masters theses and dissertations will not be considered. This award includes a $300 prize, 3 nights lodging at the RSS conference, and one-year membership in RSS.

2018 Award Recipients:

Isaac Sohn Leslie

University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Queer Farmland: Land Access Strategies for  Small-Scale Agriculture”


The Fred Buttel Outstanding Scholarly Achievement Award 2018 (book) 

The purpose of the Fred Buttel Outstanding Scholarly Achievement Awardis to recognize outstanding scholarship in the form of a book or article (alternating years for each format) that demonstrates excellence in scholarly work in the same spirit as that exemplified by the late Fred Buttel. For the award, the committee seeks nominations for outstanding scholarly books that advance the field of rural sociological knowledge. The book can have been published by any academic press, but must have been published in 2016 or 2017.

2018 Award Recipients:

Ann Tickamayer, The Pennsylvania State University

Jennifer Sherman, Washington State University

Jennifer Warlick, University of Notre Dame (eds.) 

Rural Poverty in the United States


Master’s Thesis and Dissertation Research Award

Graduate student members of the Rural Sociological Society are eligible to apply for master’s thesis and Ph.D. dissertation research awards. Dissertation awards can be made for up to $5,000. Master’s thesis awards can be made for up to $2,500. Proposals approved for funding may receive budget allocations below the requested amounts, based on availability of funds and recommendations of the Endowment Committee.

2018 Award Recipients:

Master’s Thesis Award

Megan Griffin, The Pennsylvania State University

Seed Saving of Maya Corn in the Yucatan Region of Mexico  from a Gender Perspective

Lindy Olive, Auburn University

Better than Blue Apron: Creating a Community-based Meal Kit

James Patterson III, Auburn University

Heir Property in the South: A Case Study of a Resettlement Community


Doctoral Dissertation Awards

Laura Bray, North Carolina State University

Dividing the San Juan: Water Inequality in the Southwest

Robert Francis, Johns Hopkins University

Where have the Workers Gone? Declining Labor Force  Participation among Prime-Age, Working Class  Men in Rural America

Anne Junod, Ohio State University

Processes of Public Risk: Foucauldian Discourses,  Social Amplification, and Civic and Policy Responses in  Energy Transportation Communities

Shannon Westlake, Mississippi State University

Attributes Affecting Adoption of Pollinator  Conservation Practices


Early Careers Research Award

Members of the Rural Sociological Society who received their Ph.D. on or after January 1, 2013 are eligible to apply for RSS Early Career Research awards. Because the size of these awards is modest, proposals will generally involve small-scale projects that will enhance opportunities for scholars to pursue expanded research efforts in the future. The Early Career Research awards have previously been made for up to $5,000.

2018 Award Recipients:

Cory Anderson, Ohio State University

Horse Droppings, Hate Crimes, Healthcare and More: Toward an Empirically-grounded Amish Policy Handbook  for Rural Public Agents

J Dara Bloom, North Carolina State University

Spiraling Up: Using Ripple Effect Mapping to  Evaluate an Extension Program’s Impact  on Social Capital in Rural Areas


Honorable Mention

Ian Carillo, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Regulating Race and Pollution:  Examining the Uneven Distribution of  Toxic Burdens in the Brazilian Sugar-ethanol Industry


2017 Award Recipients

2018 Award Recpients

Past Recipients of RSS Awards

Click the title to see lists of past recipients.

According to the Bylaws, the Awards and Endowment Committee shall organize and implement the Society's efforts to recognize and honor those persons whose diverse efforts have enhanced the field of rural sociology and/or improved the conditions of rural people and places. The Society supports scholarship and practice to improve the quality of rural life through the distribution of funds from the Endowment.  

Daniel Lichter

Cornell University