Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2019

Nov 26, 2019
Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2019 to be honored Dec. 10

Fruit Growers News magazine and sponsors will hold an awards ceremony Dec. 10 for the Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2019 – a group of exemplary agriculture professionals nominated by their peers for the impressive accomplishments of their young careers.

The Class of 2019 will be honored at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10 during the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO in Grand Rapids, Mich. The awards ceremony will take place in the Grand Gallery room of the DeVos Place Convention Center, 303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

After a time for social mixing, a Great American Media Services CEO and Publisher Matt McCallum will present a short ceremony honoring the award winners. A cash bar will be available.

Register to attend the free event at The event will also be streamed live from the facebook account of Fruit Growers News.

Launched last year, the 40 Under 40 Awards represent a broad spectrum of agriculture industry professionals, from growers and farm market operators, to Extension agents and industry suppliers. These young professionals are making substantial strides for their individual businesses and the industry as a whole.

“Our Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2019 represents the future of our industry, and it’s clearly in good hands,” McCallum said. “In their young careers, these honorees are already making a positive impact while also demonstrating exceptional leadership, motivation and innovation.”

The 2019 honorees are:
1. Chris Alpers, Farmer/Sales Representative, Red Path Orchards
2. Amaya Atucha, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
3. Julie Bolyard, CFO & Food Safety Plan Administrator, Appalachian Orchard Company
4. Jocelyn Bridson, Director of Environmental Science and Resources, Rio Farms
5. William Bristol, Sales Representative, Nutrien Ag Solutions
6. Jeremy Coventry, Production Manager/Owner, Curtis Orchard
7. Henry Deblouw, Past President, Mike Pirrone Produce, Inc.
8. Alex Duffy, National Specialty Crop Manager, TIMAC AGRO USA
9. Andy Ferguson, Co-Owner, Ferguson’s Orchards
10. Colleen Forestieri, Conservation Technician, Van Buren Conservation District
11. Christopher Grant, Secretary/Treasurer, New England Vegetable & Berry Growers Association
12. Matt Haak, Orchard Manager, Price Cold Storage LLC
13. Tom Heeman, President , North American Strawberry Growers Association
14. Dr. Ricardo Hernandez, Senior Scientist/Assistant Professor, Grafted Growers/North Carolina State University
15. Gerrit Herrygers, Grower/Technical Sales Rep, Herryger Farms and Wilbur Ellis
16. Cain Hickey, Assistant Professor and Extension Viticulture Specialist, University of Georgia
17. Kristin Kubiszak, Grower/Farm Market Manager, Brookside Farm
18. Erin Lizotte, Integrated Pest Management Educator, Michigan State University Extension
19. Sarah Lott Zost, Manager, Bonnie Brae Fruit Farms Inc.
20. Amanda McWhirt, Assistant Professor of Horticulture, Extension Specialist – Horticulture Production, University of Arkansas
21. Stephen Meyers, Assistant Extension/Research Professor, Mississippi State University
22. Jake Milarch, Owner, Truly Michigan Vines
23. Stacey Mullen, Orchard Owner and Agricultural Sales/Consultant, The Berry Farm & Orchard/ Timac Agro
24. Jenna Oesch, Global Marketing and Customer Experience Lead, A Bayer Crop Science, Vegetable Seeds, Bayer Crop Science
25. Kristin Oomen, Sales, Product Development Manager, Bejo Seeds, Inc.
26. Justin Oomen, Vegetable Grower, Oomen Farms LTD
27. Nancie Oxley, Winemaker/Vice President, St. Julian Winery
28. Jason Ruhlig, Owner/Manager, Ruhlig Farms
29. Jayesh Samtani, Assistant Professor and Small Fruit Extension Specialist, Virginia Tech, Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center
30. James Stahl, Partner/Farm Manager, Harvest Lane Farm Market
31. Ann Swanson, Hendrick House Farm Director, Hendrick House
32. Hillary Thomas, Research and Technical Director, Naturipe Berry Growers
33. Charlie Thompson, Vice President & Director of Research, Illinois Foundation Seeds, Inc.
34. Brandon Wade, President, Georgia Blueberry Growers Association
35. Nicole Ward, Owner/Cidermaker, Forgotten Ciders
36. Ben Werling, MSU Extension Educator, Michigan State University
37. Pat Whitwood, Director of Research, Seneca Vegetable Research, Inc.
38. Nathan Wilson, Farm Manager, Williams Orchards
39. Dale Woolf, Co-owner, Woolf Farms
40. Isaiah Wunsch, Owner/Managing Partner, Wunsch Farms

The 2019 Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Awards are sponsored by Corteva Agriscience, Enza Zaden, Stokes Seeds, FMC, Proptek and Marrone Bio Innovations. For more information about each member of the Class of 2019, visit or Nominations for the Class of 2020 will be available online, at and, beginning in December with a nomination deadline of March 15, 2020.

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