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The International Fruit Tree Association is seeking a new executive director to succeed Dr. Susan Pheasant when she leaves in September.

Pheasant was appointed to the half-time position on a contract basis in 2004 after the retirement of Dr. Bruce Barritt, who served as education director, and Charlie and Paulette Ax, the association’s business managers. She has been responsible for both the education and business aspects of the organization.

After leaving the IFTA, she plans to focus on building her own consulting business, Pheasant Projects, which is based in Wenatchee, Washington, she announced in April. In particular, she plans to organize and lead educational tours for fruit and vegetable growers.

IFTA President Larry Lutz of Nova Scotia, Canada, said the association would start recruiting a new executive director immediately with the aim of having a successor in place by the fall.

The job will remain the same, but he said the association would consider appointing an entity to do the work rather than one person. "We’re really open to different arrangements," he said.

The IFTA’s summer tour to Nova Scotia, August 2–5, will go ahead as planned, but the association will not sponsor a study tour to Chile and Argentina that had been tentatively planned to coincide with the International Society of Horticultural Science’s cherry symposium in November. Pheasant said she hopes to organize a similar tour in conjunction with horticulturists in Chile.

The IFTA’s 2010 annual conference will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in February, and a summer tour will be held in New York. The 2011 conference will be in Washington State. Lutz said the association plans to hold the 2012 conference in Europe. Although the association has no current plans for additional study tours, Lutz said the association would look at the possibilities after the new executive director is in place.

Lutz new president

Lutz, who is vice president of agricultural services for the Scotian Gold Cooperative Limited, was elected president of IFTA at the annual meeting

in Germany in February. He is a fifth-generation orchardist with 50 acres of high-density apples and peaches and a nursery tree operation.

Maurice "Mo" Tougas of Northborough, Massachusetts, was elected vice president. He and his family grow more than 20 varieties of apples, along with peaches, blueberries, brambles, pumpkins, plums, and cherries, and operate the Tougas Family Farm Kitchen and Bakery. Tougas is a director of the Massachusetts Fruit Growers Association.

Dr. Terence Robinson, a fruit physiologist at Cornell University, New York, was elected to the board for a three-year term. Re-elected to the board for three-year terms were Neal Manly of Washington; Bill Stevenson of Quebec, Canada; Trever Meachum of Michigan; and Sam DiMaria of British Columbia, Canada.

Also serving on the board are Howard Albano of California; Bob Black of Maryland; Dan Boyer of Pennsylvania; Tim Dahle of Oregon; Garry Langford of Tasmania, Australia; Paul Simmons of Ohio; Michael Weber of Langenargen, Germany; and Ed Wittenbach of Michigan.