All IPPS international tours include the selection of a recipient for the International Award of Merit. As with an election, some could turn into a popularity contest. Southern Region's did not and they found their choice was an easy one. There was only one candidate deserving of this, the highest honor in IPPP: Donna Fare.

The 2023 recipient retired as a research horticulturist from the U.S. National Arboretum location in McMinnville, Tennessee. Her research program addressed environmental issues with field and container nursery systems and germplasm evaluation of ornamental trees and shrubs for production and landscape interest. She has done research work on Magnolia, Cornus, Camellia, Acer, Quercus, Hemerocallis, and Cercis. She has also worked on germination testing, liverwort control, spectral light management on growth of trees, entomology studies, and nutrition work. She has had more than 46 publications since 2004.

Donna Fare was the Southern Region President in 2010-2011. Always upbeat, always finding a way to make something better, Donna lights up the room when she enters it. Not at all self-serving, she came on the Southern Region board in 2008 and was an International delegate in 2014-2015. She has received both the Fellows and the Meadows awards from the Southern Region.

In 2018, Donna received the Slater Wight Memorial Award from the Southern Nursery Association. She received the Environmental Leadership Award in 1999 and the Porter Henegar Memorial Award in 2002 also from the Southern Nursery Association. She has been an active participant in the SNA Research Conference since 1983 when she first competed in the graduate student competition.