WSU hiring Extension educator for Yakima
The university hopes to have a person in place by the fall.
Washington State University is in the process of hiring a new Extension agent for Yakima County. The position has been vacant since Dr. Jim Olmstead left last summer to take a position as blueberry breeder at the University of Florida.
Dr. Dan Bernardo, dean of the College of Agriculture, Human, and Natural Resources Sciences, said that the university felt it important to fill the Extension position, despite serious budget constraints. “We consider this a very critical position in serving the tree fruit industry.”
WSU is facing reductions in state funding and has been directed by the state to reduce its total hiring, Bernardo said. But this is a high profile and important Extension position that plays a leadership role in the university’s tree fruit education program.
The application period closed on May 31 and a selection committee is reviewing the five applications received. The university is seeking a horticulturist with at least a master’s degree, but preferably a doctorate, who can provide education programs relating to the sustainability and profitability of tree fruit orchards. “This person has to be somebody who can bring great value to the commercial producers in the Yakima Valley,” Bernardo said.
Yakima County has two Extension positions. Mike Bush, who holds the other position, is an entomologist who focuses mainly on urban horticulture and the Master Gardener program.
“One of the things we’re really trying to do here is to hire a subject matter specialist who can serve the commercial tree fruit sector in the southern part of the state,” Bernardo said.
He expects the new person to work closely with other members of the tree fruit Extension team, such as Karen Lewis, educator for Grant and Adams Counties; Tim Smith, educator for Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan Counties; and Gwen Hoheisel, educator for Benton and Franklin Counties, as well as Extension specialists and researchers at the Prosser and Wenatchee centers.
Serving on the selection committee are: Dr. Jay Brunner, director of the Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee; Chris Jackson, director of Yakima County Extension; Kevin Bouchey, Yakima County commissioner; Sergio Marquez, orchardist; Jim Doornink, orchardist; and Hoheisel.
Bernardo said WSU hopes that the new person will be able to start work this fall.