Dr. N. Paul Johnston's inspired humanitarian service reached many students and people from around the world

N. Paul Johnston

Dr. N. Paul Johnston's inspired humanitarian service reached many students and people from around the world.

By Emily Ellsworth

Dr. N. Paul Johnston passed away unexpectedly on January 16, 2015, leaving behind a legacy of service to Brigham Young University and the global community. Johnston became a BYU faculty member in the Department of Animal Science in 1971. He received a B.S. from BYU, an M.S. from Oregon State University, an M.B.A. from the University of Utah, and a Ph.D. from Oregon State University. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Ecuador in 1987 and spoke French and Spanish. He was admired and respected by students and colleagues in the College of Life Sciences. His passion for teaching led him to mentor students and involve them in his tremendous humanitarian work.

Johnston was named the director of the Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute in 1994, and he remained in that post until 2000. During his time as director, he helped establish a self-reliant agriculture program that benefited farmers in impoverished nations throughout the world. Projects at the institute contributed to improved nutrition and enlightened agricultural practices. He continued his humanitarian work with other nongovernmental organizations and students to improve agriculture, nutrition, and health in Africa and South America. Johnston’s work at the Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute provided opportunities for students to serve; his concern and support for his students ensured that those who worked with him felt his love for them and his passion for his work.

Johnston’s work reached far beyond his influence as a teacher. While he taught and mentored students for 42 years at BYU, he was also active as a researcher and chaired or contributed to many committees on the department, college, university, state, national, and international level. Johnston is survived by his six children and his wife, Irene. The College of Life Sciences appreciates Johnston’s invaluable contribution to our College and university. He will be missed as a mentor and certainly as a friend to the many who had the pleasure of working with him.


Johnston spent time in Bolivia fulfilling his responsibilities as director of the Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute.
Johnston spent time in Bolivia fulfilling his responsibilities as director
of the Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute.
Johnston was a program director for the BYU Malawi International Development internship that worked with the School of Agriculture for Family Indepedence (SAFI) in Mtalimanja Village, Malawi.
Johnston was a program director for the BYU Malawi International Development
internship that worked with the School of Agriculture for Family
Indepedence (SAFI) in Mtalimanja Village, Malawi.