Grower Liaisons | Citrus Insider

Grower Liaisons

The battle to save California citrus from the Asian citrus psyllid and Huanglongbing is a collaborative effort that involves local, county, state and federal officials, researchers, scientists and commercial citrus growers. To help facilitate pest management and disease eradication, the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program has identified a program manager and key individuals in each region to be your point of contact.

Regional Grower Liaisons

Statewide Coordinator – Robert Atkins

Robert “Bob” Atkins graduated from the California State University, Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in Entomology and a master’s in Public Administration. Additionally, he is a graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program. He worked for 33 years for the County of Los Angeles, Agricultural Commissioner/Weights & Measures Department, reaching the rank of Chief Deputy prior to accepting the position of Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights & Measures for San Diego County from 2006 through 2011. He also served as President of California Agricultural Commissioners’ and Sealers’ Association (CACASA) from 2010 to 2011. He is an Honorary Life Member of the San Diego Chapter of Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC), a member of the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee, a member of the Specialty Crops Block Grant Technical Review Committee for Plant Health 2012 and 2013, and an administrative hearing officer from 2012 to present. Bob is also a small farmer of cherimoyas, citrus and figs in the Fallbrook-Rainbow area of San Diego County.

Fresno County – Sylvie Robillard
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with Fresno County information, please email Sylvie at fresnoacp@yahoo.com

Sylvie has worked as an independent pest control advisor (PCA) in the citrus industry since 1986, beginning with Jim Stewart and Jim Gorden at Pest Management Associates. During her career, she has been involved in all phases of pest control. She is familiar with all currently established pests and their sampling protocol and management – both chemical and cultural. Currently, Sylvie owns a small company, Tecolote IPM Consulting. She has worked with many farmers who with represent the gamut of the industry – small growers to large farming enterprises, organic to conventional, in Fresno, Tulare and Kern counties. Sylvie is a professional member of the Association of Applied IPM Ecologists, where she previously served as a past board member and conference chair and was named Member of the Year in 2006. For the past several years, she has organized the Citrus Roundtables for AAIE, forums where growers, PCAs and researchers get together to discuss issues in citrus pest control.

Imperial County – Curtis Pate
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with Imperial County information, please email Curtis at curtis@agtegrity.com

Currently Curtis owns the agronomy consulting company, Agtegrity, Inc., where he works with Imperial Valley area 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 CAPCA 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.

Kern County – Judy Zaninovich
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with Kern County information, please email Judy at jsleslie@msn.com

Judy 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 North 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.

Riverside County – Alan Washburn
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with Riverside County information, please email Alan at alan@washburnandsons.com

Alan is the owner of Washburn & Sons, Inc. a citrus pest control and tree trimming operation located in Riverside, Calif. Washburn & Sons, Inc. has been in business for more than 90 years; 40 years of which he managed its daily operations. He is a licensed pest control operator (PCO) and pest control advisor (PCA) with the State of California. In addition, he is actively involved in the University of California Riverside’s (UCR) research pertaining to Huanglongbing (HLB) as UCR looks for ways to prevent HLB from attacking California citrus groves. He has been an alternate board member with the Citrus Research Board since 2000.

San Bernardino and Ventura Counties – Sandra Zwaal
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with San Bernardino and Ventura Counties information, please email Sandra at szwaal2@gmail.com

Sandra 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 (PMP) in technology, public sector and finance, Sandra went back to school to obtain 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.

San Diego County – Jason Schwartze
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with San Diego County information, please email Jason at jasonschwartze@gmail.com

Jason is a skilled inspector biologist with extensive experience working with San Diego County’s local citrus grove owners and farmers for several years. Most recently, he was lead North County Supervisor for the Pesticide Regulation Program with the County Agricultural Commissioner focusing on citrus and avocado production agriculture. Jason’s experience includes compliance inspections and grower outreach, plant and disease identification, invasive species mitigation, pesticide regulation enforcement, and pesticide use reporting and tracking using GIS mapping. Jason has conducted outreach and public education regarding agricultural topics such as invasive pests, pesticide safety, worker health and safety, and statewide laws and regulations, and also maintains several certifications with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Jason lives in Oceanside with his wife, three kids and two dogs. His family runs a small craft beverage business.

Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo/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 cressidasb@gmail.com

Cressida Silvers did her undergraduate studies in plant sciences at Swarthmore College and earned her master’s degree in 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.

Tulare County (Northern) – Teri Blaser
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with Tulare County (Northern) information, please email Teri at tblasersci@ocsnet.net

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, CA.

Tulare County (Southern) – Jessica Leslie
For questions or to receive periodic email updates with Tulare County (Southern) information, please email Jessica at jess.leslie@hotmail.com.

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, CA. This 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, PCA’s, and researchers on the station to coordinate treatments twice a year. As an aspiring 3rd 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, CA 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.