Mar 31, 2021
Eric Hanson Receives NARBA 2021 Distinguished Service Award

Retired Michigan State University professor and Extension specialist Eric Hanson was recently presented the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association’s Distinguished Service Award.

This award was presented during the North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association’s (NARBA) virtual annual meeting on Feb. 24 by NARBA President Jim Jedele (Berry Hill Farm, Dexter, Michigan).

Before his retirement in 2019, Hanson was professor and Extension specialist in the Horticulture Department at Michigan State University. A NARBA member since 1990, he served on the organizing committee for a number of NARBA conferences (and was always involved in the Great Lakes EXPO). He was a speaker at many NARBA conferences and was one of the leaders in the three-year Tunnel Berries project, which conducted research on tunnel production for northern areas, created many grower resources and culminated in a tour of Quebec tunnel production. He was always willing to answer questions and help caneberry growers not only in Michigan but also in other regions.

NARBA sent the award plaque and a NARBA shirt to his wife, Katie, so she could surprise him with them at the end of Jedele’s presentation. Here are Hanson’s comments:

“This is a wonderful honor; it means a whole lot to me. I retired a little while ago, so I have had a chance to think about the things I enjoyed working in Extension and research at the university, and one of the things that comes to the top is working with grower groups like NARBA. I think it is mostly because of the enthusiasm, the leadership, the unselfishness of people in groups like NARBA. I think it’s been really important to me and to other colleagues, as well.

“As you probably know, university folks are pulled in different directions, probably more than ever now. So an important part of NARBA is it pushes folks in the right direction, it provides leadership, it tells us what is important to the industry and it keeps people on track. Your newsletters and your conferences like this one are wonderful opportunities to share Extension information and results of our research; it’s a wonderful partnership that you’ve built. The research that you fund is absolutely critical, not only because of the money you put into research but what that seeds. Very often money that comes from NARBA results in a larger grant obtained from a federal source. Tunnel Berries as a project probably wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without NARBA’s commitment. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with this group over the years and all I can say is keep up the good, hard, important work that you have been doing. It is so critical to advancing this wonderful industry.

  “The last thing I was thinking about is, I don’t know if berries attract good people or the other way around, but some of the very best people that I’ve worked with over the years have been berry growers. berry Extension people and berry research people. There’s just something good about berries.”

NARBA has presented this award since 2010.

See the full list of previous award winners here.

Michigan State University’s Eric Hanson. Photo: Gary Pullano

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