Grower Liaisons: Your Resource in the Fight Against HLB

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The Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program’s (CPDPP) goal is to sustain and protect California’s commercial citrus production from the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and the deadly disease it can spread, Huanglongbing (HLB). As part of that effort, CPDPP works in collaboration with a number of industry partners, researchers, scientists and commercial citrus growers to ensure California’s citrus industry is protected for years to come.

Local grower liaisons serve as growers’ main point of contact for information and updates on activities specific to ACP and HLB occurring in your area. As of July 1, the following grower liaisons have been selected by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and will continue to serve as your boots-on-the-ground leaders. CPDPP encourages all growers to interact regularly with their region’s representative(s).

Learn more about your grower liaisons below and request to be added to their email updates for timely information impacting your area!

Curtis Pate

Imperial County – Curtis Pate
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with Imperial County information, please email Curtis at

Currently, Curtis Pate owns the agronomy consulting company, Agtegrity, Inc., where he works with Imperial Valley farmers on soil fertility and pest management. Prior to starting his own business, Curtis spent more than 21 years at Helena Chemical in sales and management. He is an active member of the California Association of Pest Control Advisers and Agronomy Society of America and has concentrated on trees and vines throughout his career. Born and raised in Brawley, Calif., he is well-connected with growers in the desert. Curtis received his education in crop science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Judy Zaninovich

Kern County – Judy Zaninovich
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with Kern County information, please email Judy at

Judy Zaninovich has enjoyed working with citrus growers on pest management issues since becoming a licensed pest control advisor (PCA) in 1984. For the past 10 years, she has coordinated treatments in citrus and grapes for the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS) area-wide management program in Tulare County and Northern Kern County. Judy has helped in the reduction of the GWSS population to a smaller area of each county. She has also worked on a smaller project for the Tulare County Pest Control District to help protect the UC Lindcove Field Station from experiencing tree losses from the Tristeza Virus transmitted by aphids. In addition, she has managed the Consolidated Central Valley Table Grape Pest and Disease Control District since 2006. Judy has worked in close partnership with growers, PCAs, researchers and associated government agencies with the common goal of suppressing and eradicating these pests and their ability to vector devastating diseases. Judy received her bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is a fellow of Class XXV of the California Agricultural Leadership Program.

Tom Mullen

Riverside County – Tom Mullen
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with Riverside County information, contact Tom at

Previously a special education teacher in Arizona, Tom Mullen moved to California to work in the citrus industry. He started his company, Janx Agriculture Services, in 2018 and performs pest management consulting for citrus and avocado groves throughout Southern California. Currently, Tom supports growing operations in San Diego, Imperial, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. He is very excited to join the efforts to control ACP and HLB infestations plaguing the California citrus industry.

Sandra Zwaal

San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura Counties – Sandra Zwaal
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with San Bernardino and Ventura counties information, please email Sandra at

Sandra Zwaal is a licensed pest control advisor and a UCCE Master Gardener educating the public on pest and weed control, plant maintenance, Integrated Pest Management practices and water conservation. She also plans and executes school gardens on a project basis. After spending 15 years as a certified Project Manager Professional in technology, public sector and finance, Sandra went back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in agriculture/plant science from Cal Poly, Pomona. While attending school, she managed a culinary farm where she grew seasonal food for The Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch on campus.

Cressida Silvers

Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties – Cressida Silvers
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo/Ventura counties information, please email Cressida at

Cressida Silvers did her undergraduate studies in plant sciences at Swarthmore College and earned her Master’s of Entomology from University of California Riverside (UCR). She has more than 15 years of experience in agricultural pest management, research, demonstration and outreach in a variety of crops. Cressida spent five years as project coordinator of the United States Department of Agriculture Areawide Pest Management Project for the invasive Melaleuca tree in South Florida, working with public agencies and private landowners to increase awareness of the weed tree and to promote an integrated management approach based on biological control. Much of the remainder of her work experience has been in California agriculture. One of her first jobs was scouting for citrus pests in the Central Valley as an intern for Jim Gorden and Sylvie Robillard at Pest Management Associates. She worked on the Integrated Pest Management program for stone fruit pests at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center and did her graduate studies at UCR on biological control of avocado thrips. Most recently, Cressida worked as watershed coordinator for the Central Coast Agricultural Water Quality Coalition in Santa Barbara County, assisting fruit and vegetable growers with new water quality regulations.

Teri Blaser

Fresno, Madera and Northern Tulare Counties – Teri Blaser
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with Tulare County (Northern) information, please email Teri at

Teri Blaser is a California native. She was born in Santa Barbara and made her way to the Central Valley during the 1980s. Teri currently owns Sespe Creek Insectary, Inc. with her husband, Ralph. The Insectary rears Aphytis melinus, a parasitic wasp that is used to control California red scale in citrus. She has served or currently serves on the board of the Association of Natural Biocontrol Producers, the Association of Applied IPM Ecologists, and the Applied Insect Ecologists Foundation. Teri graduated from California State University, Fresno with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business in 1993. She, her husband, and a multitude of dogs and cats reside in Lemon Cove, Calif.

Jessica Leslie

Southern Tulare County – Jessica Leslie
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with Tulare County (Southern) information, please email Jessica at

Jessica Leslie is the owner of JML Consulting where for the last 10 years she has worked in the agriculture pest management field – specifically working with PCA’s and growers on area-wide treatment programs. An example of one of the area-wide treatment programs Jessica works on is the Tulare County Pest Control District’s Vector Suppression Program in Lindcove, Calif. The program’s goal is to suppress the number of aphids available to transmit the Tristeza Virus in citrus orchards surrounding the UC Lindcove Research Center in order to limit contamination of the center with the virus. Jessica works closely with the surrounding growers, PCAs, and researchers on the station to coordinate treatments twice a year. As an aspiring third generation PCA, the citrus industry has always held a special place in Jessica’s heart and ultimately guided her decision to pursue this career path. She resides in the small, close-knit community of Exeter, Calif. with her husband, two young sons and two rowdy dogs. Jessica is very excited for this opportunity to help local growers, as well as the citrus industry as a whole, on this extremely important program.