Jan 17, 2019
NA Raspberry & Blackberry Association honors Gina Fernandez

At its annual meeting jan. 10 at the 2019 North American Raspberry & Blackberry Conference, held in Savannah, Georgia, the North American Raspberry Association (NARBA) gave its 2019 Distinguished Service Award to Gina Fernandez, Small Fruits Extension Specialist at North Carolina State University (NCSU).

Fernandez  was the coordinator of NARBA’s North America Bramble Growers Research Foundation  1999-2016, sending out the Request for Proposals, gathering proposals, and leading the review process. In 2016, she turned her responsibilities over to co-coordinators Patrick Byers, University of Missouri, and Jeff Chandler, NCSU.

She has helped plan the program for multiple NARBA annual conferences, including this one,  as well as the blackberry/raspberry programs that NARBA has coordinated at the Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference Savannah since 2006. She has been a speaker at most, if not all, of these Southeastern meetings, as well as many of NARBA conferences in other regions. This year, she gave several presentations and helped lead a Fundamentals of Caneberry Production workshop.

Fernandez was convener for the International Society of Horticultural Science’s Eleventh International Rubus and Ribes Symposium, held in western North Carolina in 2015. This was an enormous effort over two years that brought in scientists from around the world and particularly showed them the rapidly expanding Southeastern blackberry industry which she has helped to build.

A professor at NC State University since 1996, Fernandez is currently the NCSU breeder and Extension specialist for both caneberries and strawberries. Building off the caneberry work at NCSU by now-retired Jim Ballington, she has released two caneberry varieties: the blackberry ’Von’ and red raspberry ‘Nantahala’. Her “TeamRubus” blog is widely read, and growers in Virginia, Georgia and other states besides North Carolina also turn to her for extension advice.

“Dr. Fernandez  is a true friend and supporter of NARBA and our industry and has been instrumental in helping us grow here on the East Coast to where we are today,”  NARBA president Pierson Geyer of Agriberry Farm in Virginia said in presenting the award.

The North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association is a non-profit membership organization of growers, researchers and others in the caneberry industry from 37 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, and seven other countries.

Its mission includes providing education and support to growers, promoting caneberries to the public, and supporting research (through its allied North American Bramble Growers Research Foundation). Its next North American Raspberry & Blackberry Conference will be in St. Louis, Missouri March 3-6, 2020. For more information, visit http://www.raspberryblackberry.com or email [email protected].

Photo: The 2019 Distinguished Service Award is presented to Gina Fernandez by NARBA President Pierson Geyer. Photo: NARBA

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