Remembering Lisa Shepherd Jenkins

The Lisa Shepherd Jenkins Memorial Fundraising Initiative has been established to help educate the next generation of seed industry professionals. To learn more, download the scholarship brochure, or visit the ISU Foundation website at

Lisa Shepherd Jenkins Scholarship BrochureLisa Shepherd Jenkins

Lisa Shepherd Jenkins: An Internationally Recognized Leader in Seed Health

Iowa State University lost one of its most avid Seed Science Center advocates and internationally respected experts in seed pathology recently. Lisa Shepherd Jenkins, 43, director of the administrative unit of the National Seed Health System and seed health testing coordinator for the University’s Seed Science Center, passed away July 1 at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames following a brief battle with amyloidosis and multiple myeloma.

Lisa enjoyed life to the fullest and excelled in helping others. She was a tireless champion for phytosanitary issues relating to seed health and was highly regarded by seed industry colleagues from around the world for her expertise in seed-borne diseases and plant pathology. Lisa possessed natural leadership ability and an infectious enthusiasm that benefitted both Iowa State University and the seed industry.

Lisa, B.S. Agronomy and Seed Science, ’95, and M.S. Plant Pathology, ’99, served as a seed health testing coordinator for the Seed Science Center at Iowa State University. An employee of the Seed Science Center since 1999, she headed one of the most active phytosanitary seed testing programs in the country. Lisa and her team performed tests on more than 350 different host-pathogen combinations. As a result of her ingenuity and experience, the Iowa State University Seed Health Testing lab became the go-to laboratory for export seed testing and seed health testing information.

As Director of the administrative unit of the National Seed Health System (NSHS), Lisa facilitated the accreditation of private companies to conduct phytosanitary testing and worked to standardize seed health laboratory and field inspection methods across the U.S. She collaborated with the USDA-APHIS-PPQ and the American Seed Trade Association on international trade issues dealing with seed and assisted the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Iowa Crop Improvement Association in establishing training methods for the phytosanitary field inspection program. She focused her efforts on seed industry issues including compliance with the laboratory ISO:9000 program, NSHS accreditation, and science-based solutions to remove unnecessary phytosanitary restrictions. She also worked with farmers and seed companies to provide information and answers on seed pathology concerns.

During her career, Lisa served as Chair of the American Seed Trade Association Emerging Diseases Committee; Chair and member of the American Phytopathological Society Seed Pathology Committee; and as a member of the National Seed Health System/Plant Protection and Quarantine/National Plant Advisory Group.

On the personal side, Lisa was in constant motion whether at the Seed Science Center, on the RAGBRAI route, or cheering loudly at a Cyclone game. Lisa and her husband Andy loved to travel, and frequently arranged group trips for family and friends. Ever adaptable, Lisa was comfortable in any environment, whether it was inspecting a muggy cornfield, reading a book on a beach, blazing a trail down Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, or quietly working in the background at a meeting. Lisa helped everyone around her to be a better person. But perhaps Lisa’s greatest gift was the ability to bring and keep people together. Lisa was fiercely loyal to Iowa State, to her family and friends, and was very much loved.

Originally from Humboldt, Iowa, Lisa and her husband Andy resided in Nevada, Iowa. Lisa is survived by her husband Andrew Jenkins, mother Marianne Shepherd, sister Kim (Ed) Bartels, in-laws Richard and Ardith Jenkins, brother in-law Rick (Pam) Jenkins, and nieces Rachel Bartels, Arianne, and Ashley Jenkins.