Stakeholder Advisory Board

Dr. Carlos A. Blanco has worked for 20 years as researcher and regulator of genetically-modified plants and insects. His work at USDA-APHIS involved the evaluation and approval of the GM pink bollworm and GM diamondback moth. Carlos’ current work as senior entomologist in the APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine, is to evaluate and regulate the importation and domestic movement of insects.

Mark Bolda has been the Strawberry and Caneberry Farm Advisor in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties since May, 2002 and is serving as the County Director for Santa Cruz County as of September 1, 2012. Mark graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Agronomy in 1989 and with a Master’s degree in Plant Protection and Pest Management from the University of California in 1995. Prior to entering studies for his Master’s degree, Mark served with the United States Peace Corps in Paraguay as an agricultural extensionist from 1989 to 1992.

Dr. Juliet Carroll is the Fruit IPM Coordinator at Cornell University. She invented Trac Software, a pesticide spray record-keeping program for market traceability and pesticide reporting requirements. Under her leadership, the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA), a weather mesonet providing weather-based pest forecast models, grew from 45 weather stations in NY to over 500 in 12 states. Her current research focus is on SWD.

Jimmy Click is a Research Entomologist at Driscoll’s in Watsonville, California.

Dr. David Epstein is the Senior Entomologist for the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP). The OPMP works with EPA on pesticide registration review issues resulting from implementation of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), responding to national needs related to alien and invasive pest species, pollinator health issues, Endangered Species consultations,  and in providing leadership in the adoption of the National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Dr. Epstein served for 12 years as the IPM Specialist for tree fruit crops for the Michigan State University Integrated Pest Management Program.

TJ Hafner is a lead agronomist for Agricare, focusing on sustainable and profitable blueberry and hazelnut production in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. He is also the co-owner of a small hazelnut farm in Linn County, Oregon.

Bruce Hall is an agronomist for Jasper Wyman and Son in Milbridge, Maine.

Joseph LaForest is the Associate Director for the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health (Bugwood) and leads the Integrated Pest Management and Forest Health programs. He also serves as Co-Director for the Southern IPM Center and coordinates the Facilitation of Innovation Through Technology (FITT) initiative to encourage communication between systems focused on IPM and Plant Biosecurity while also leveraging the capabilities of each system to maximize the benefit to all stakeholders.

Dr. Tracy Leskey is an Entomology Research Leader and the Director of the Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement, and Protection at the USDA-ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, West Virginia. She is also an Adjunct Faculty Member of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the Department of Entomology. Her research focuses on the behavioral and chemical ecology of key insect pests associated with deciduous tree fruit production.

Wayne Mitchem works with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension as the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium Coordinator and with the Weed Management programs in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University. Wayne is also a blackberry grower in North Carolina.

Joseph Minock is a Supervisor at Variety Farms in Hammonton, New Jersey.

Nate Nourse is the Sales Director at Nourse Farms. He has served in leadership roles for the North American Strawberry Growers Association, North American Raspberry and Blackberry Growers Association, New England Vegetable Growers Association, and National Berry Crops Initiative.

Mike Omeg is the Director of Business Operations for Orchard View Inc. and Owner of Omeg Family Orchards.

Dr. Douglas Pfeiffer is a Professor in the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech. His primary research is on fruit IPM and ecological interactions in vineyard, small fruit, and orchard systems. He also teaches courses in Integrated Pest Management to undergraduate and graduate student.

Dean Polk is the Statewide Fruit IPM Agent at Rutgers University’s Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

Dale Ila Riggs is the Owner of  The Berry Patch in Stephentown, New York.

Dr. Alan Schreiber is the Executive Director of the Washington Blueberry Commission.

Dr. Hillary Thomas is the Research and Technical Director at Naturipe Berry Growers Inc. in Salinas, California. Thomas focuses on the development of applied agricultural research programs and technology transfer to growers. She received her doctorate in entomology in 2009 from the University of California Davis and went on to serve as a science and technology fellow in the California state legislature. She also served as the senior manager of the research department at the California Strawberry Commission from 2011-2015, where she is well known for her work on integrated pest management of lygus bug and other pests.

Dave Trinka is the Vice President of Agri-Research and Member Services for MBG Marketing (Michigan Blueberry Growers).

Eric Venturini is the Executive Director at Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine and Owner of Grow Wild Bees.

Brandon Wade is the plant manager at Alma Nursery & Berry Farms in Alma, Georgia.

Albert Wildes is a blueberry grower in Georgia and member of the Georgia Blueberry Commission.