My extension philosophy is rooted in developing a foundation built on trust between myself and the producers I aim to help. I work with local growers and collaborators to find sustainable solutions to pest management in food production systems. The goal of my extension program is to provide tangible solutions to grower challenges, foster critical feedback and have a measurable impact, such as adoption rates or improved economic viability of an enterprise. I am specifically interested in increasing resources and programs to support food production on diversified farms, for urban growers and for production in controlled environments. My research is fully integrated into my Extension program. I am always looking for growers to partner with me for on-farm research and to help guide my program.
In addition to developing new resources for stakeholders, I also think it is my responsibility to help stakeholders identify sources of reliable, science-based information. It is important for growers to understand the regional and site-specific factors that impact the effectiveness of control measures that have worked in the past or in other regions. My role is to advise them on tailoring this information and creating personalized recommendations through active research that is driven by stakeholder concerns. As an entomologist, I contribute recommendations based on research aimed at managing insect pests and insect-vectored diseases, maximizing pollination, and conserving beneficial insects.
As a specialist, it is my job to make research outcomes available to county educators and growers in a timely and accessible manner. This includes using social media, creating videos, interactive websites or apps and email list serves that increase accessibility of local research and experiences. I engage in conversations with my stakeholders by attending regional events such as field days and conferences geared for specialty crops producers like the Indiana Horticulture Conference, the Indiana Small Farm Conference, and the Small Farm Education Field Day. The ultimate goal of my extension program is to increase the viability of specialty crop production and to empower all types of food producers.