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ABOUT

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Biographies of Founding Members

LOUIS RUDD

Louis pioneered the multi-disciplinary approach to farm consulting. In addition to pest management, his service eventually included soils, plant nutrition, and irrigation scheduling. Louis strived to grow the profession by taking advantage of new technology. He used plant growth analysis of boll and flower counts to estimate cotton yields. Aerial infrared photography served him as a diagnostic tool for soil and irrigation advice. Louis believed in a holistic approach to plant health and pest management.

In the early 1960s, Louis and John Nickelsen were driving to Riverside every January to talk about integrated pest management with Everett Dietrick and Jack Blehm, who had set up their first insectary. Louis and John were among their best customers for beneficial insects. In 1966-67 Louis began pushing for an IPM organization. He adapted some bylaws taken from the San Joaquin Valley Entomology Association and proposed the name Association of Applied Insect Ecologists. Louis came up with the concept of “applied entomology” in conversations with Ken Hagen, to distinguish his profession from “academic entomology”. AAIE was incorporated in November 1967, with Louis Ruud as President and Jim Gorden as Secretary.

JIM GORDEN

Gorden graduated from Fresno State, then taught for three years at Fowler Junior High before moving to Exeter to work for Rincon Vitova insectary. In 1968, Jim Gorden formed a partnership with Jim Stewart, continuing the IPM work started at Rincon Vitova insectary. Pest Management Associates developed its whole business philosophy using and developing IPM strategies for their clients. Many of their clients have been with them for more than 25 years and represent a diverse set of growers from the very small five-acre family orchard to large corporate farms. Gorden has had close working relationships with some of the pioneers in the development of IPM such as Dr. Van der Bosh, Dr. Huffaker, and Dr. Smith. He is a founding member of the Association of Applied insect Ecologists.

OUR TEAM

Current List Of Board Members

GREG MONTEZ
President

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I am Greg Montez, and I am very pleased to be named to be the President of AAIE for the 2024 – 2025 term.  
I started off in agriculture at Fresno State with a major in Plant Science and earned my undergraduate degree in 1987.  As soon as I had graduated, I took a job in the San Luis Valley of Colorado as a pest control advisor working in potatoes and small grains. When I returned to California in 1991 to start my graduate degree (again at Fresno State), I signed on with the University of California at the Kearney Agricultural Research Center as Staff Research Associate. Over the next twenty years, I was able to work in just about every crop that is grown in California, but my specialty was in citrus insect pest management.  In 2012 I was recruited by Eurofins Agroscience which does field and laboratory trials for companies to register new agricultural chemicals.  I worked at Eurofins as entomologist and project specialist until I was picked up by Trécé Inc which makes insect pheromone traps and lures. In Fall of 2019, I was hired by Suterrawhere I had a technical position doing field trials, marketing support and educational outreach. I spent some time at Verdesian Life Sciences as Northern California Account Manager where I learned a lot of plant nutrition and agronomy before joining Albaugh LLC in May 2023 as Technical Manager, Western US.  I first became a member of AAIE when I was introduced to them in 1991 by Dr. Mark Mayse and Dr. Peter Goodell, and I have many close friends and colleagues who are long-term members.

CELESTE GILBERT
Past President

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A member of AAIE since 2009 Celeste was first introduced to the association by winning a scholarship and presenting a poster at the annual conference held in Modesto.  It was at this first meeting Celeste established key contacts and friendships within the agriculture community that have endured.  In 2017 Celeste served as Conference Chair and Since 2020 She has served on the board. During her time as President, the association has undergone many changes but she hopes as she hands over the gavel to the next president this November the association is more resilient and stronger than before.

CARLA YOUNGBLOOD
Treasurer

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Carla Youngblood grew up in the Central Valley of California. She is an independent consultant who specializes in nut crops. She owns C&D Agriculture Consulting, based in Madera, Ca. She began working on a small farm in agriculture but spent most of her life on a working cattle ranch. She received a Horticulture degree from Merced College. She then graduated from Fresno State. She was first introduced to AAIE by her former employer Gary Weinberger, who was a big advocate for education and research.  Gary was an expert in the pistachios industry and Carla began her career working under him. She was introduced to nut crops where she found her passion for working with almonds, walnut, and pistachios. She spends the majority of her time working in the nut industry. Carla joined AAIE as a member in 2014 and has been a board member since 2018.  AAIE is an excellent place to establish key contacts and friends throughout the agriculture communities.  AAIE has been a great source of research and data on the latest crops.

MICHAEL
DEVENCENZI

Advisory to Board

  • Independent Agricultural Consultant, licensed in 1973, both PCA & QAL.

  • Married for 47 years to wife Rita this September, have 2 children and one grandchild.

  • Owns Devencenzi Agricultural Pest Management & Research, based in Lodi, Ca.

  • Concentrates on fruit and nut crops, mainly Walnut, Cherry, and Apples.

  • Also advises on almonds, grains, and alfalfa. Have performed contract research for over 20 years.

  • Have been a member of AAIE for decades, held positions of President, Vice President,

  • Board member, advisor. Received recognition from AAIE for Member of the Year and Life Time Achievement.

  • Has moderated the deciduous fruit and nut roundtables for decades at the AAIE Conferences and has worked on the AAIE Foundation Auction. Still at it.

TERI BLASER
Board Member

Teri was first introduced to agriculture through her father, who worked on cattle ranches in his youth, and Lemon/Avocado ranches later in life.  Her educational trajectory began with animal husbandry and veterinary medicine and took a turn to an Ag Business Degree in 1993.  She began to work at Sespe Creek Insectary, Inc. in 1994.  Per her boss Reed Finrock’s request, Teri obtained her Pest Control Advisor and Qualified Applicator licenses in 1995.  In 2011 Teri and her husband Ralph bought Sespe Creek Insectary, Inc. from Reed and Jan Finfrock.  She has enjoyed the last 29 years providing quality parasitic wasps to citrus growers and will continue to do so for a few more years before passing the torch to her employees.  In 1995, she became a member of AAIE. She was the  2014 and 2019  AAIE president, the Conference  Chair in 2012,  and the 2012  Member of the Year.  She has served on the  AAIE board of directors from 2009 to 2015 and from 2017 to the present.  Teri is the 2023 Conference Chair.  She is passionate about being part of an organization that changed how pesticides were used in California agriculture.

JEANNINE LOWRIMORE
Board Member

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Jeannine Lowrimore joined AAIE in 2015 and has been a board member since 2018.  She is the Northern CA technical rep for Pacific Biocontrol Corporation and does a small amount of walnut consulting in Linden.  The Lodi area is her home base where she spends the majority of her time working with nut crops, tree fruit and vineyards in pheromone mating disruption programs.  AAIE has been an excellent organization for networking with colleagues and consultants while staying current on issues facing agriculture.  It’s been rewarding to assist in the restructuring of the organization this last year she looks forward to the positive changes and growth ahead!

JON HOLMQUIST
Board Member

Jon Holmquist - Vietnam-era US Navy veteran. Attended Modesto JC, 1972 & 73, awarded AS degree in Biology. Attended San Diego State University. Awarded BS degree in Biology, with an emphasis in Ecology. 40-semester units in Entomology & Acarology. Emphasis in Biocontrol. Maintain California Ag Pest Advisor & Qualified Applicator licenses.  Work experience. Bowles Farming WH Mott. Co. 1977-83. Self-Employed 1983-90. Heublein Winery/Canandaigua Wine Co./Constellation Brands, 1990-2018. Retired. Holmquist Ag Services 2018- present. Past President AAIE Feb. 2000- Feb. 2001 AAIE Program Chair and Board Member - many years! One of many authors CAWG/Wine Institute Sustainable Winegrowers Handbook. Use of Biological Control Organisms in Vineyard & Almond Pest Management.

RON BRITT
Board Member

Ron Britt has been in business for over 35 years, offering agricultural consulting services for tree fruit and hops.  These services include monitoring insect populations by trapping and orchard observations made while walking the orchard blocks.  Recommendations are made to optimize timing for control of the target problem with insecticides, miticides, fungicides, plant growth regulators, and herbicides.  Ron Britt and Associates also consults on plant fertility.  Our goal is to produce the highest quality fruit with minimal use of toxic chemicals by establishing low input and sound IPM management practices.

JOE BAIRD
Board Member

  • Grew up on a dairy farm south of Merced, CA. U.S. Navy 1970-74, Electrician’s Mate.1974-77 Maintenance Electrician for Kaiser Aluminum in Mountain View, CA.  

  • Returned to work as a dairyman on my Stepdad’s farm until 1993.  

  • Attended Merced College 1989-1993 while working full-time. Associate of Science in Landscape Horticulture.

  • 1993-1996 attended Cal-Poly SLO, Bachelor of Science in Ornamental Horticulture with a Minor in Ag Business.

  • Interned for Jim Gordon at Pest Management Associates in Exeter, Ca, March-August 1995.  

  • Field Scout for Chris Morgner at Agri-Valley Consulting in Merced, Ca the summer of 1996.  Started full-time work for Agri-Valley Consulting in December 1996 and am currently employed there.

  • Obtained my PCA in March 1997. Obtained my CCA in 2007.

  • Joined AAIE in 1996,  previously served on the Board for 8 years then onto the Foundation board for 8 years.

  • Have been on the AAIE Board again for the past 2 years.

SAUL ALBA 
Board Member

Saul began his agriculture work in vineyard and winery operations on the Central California coast.  After deciding to focus his career on crop protection he moved north where he managed IPM programs at Monterey Mushroom Company and Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo.  This work led to a position as IPM Manager at Harborside Farms where he directed their bio-intensive greenhouse cannabis IPM program.  Saul now works as an IPM Specialist for Beneficial Insectary.

Christopher Ball
Board Member

Christopher Ball was introduced into the world of biological controls in late 2017 by Ron Whitehurst and Jan Dietrich while working at Rincon-Vitova serving as a cannabis consultant and insect production assistant. In 2019 he started working for Integrated Growers Services as an IPM specialist inspecting and servicing mostly avocado and citrus orchards. 


Chris has a background in conservation ecology with a BS in environmental science from Drexel University in Philadelphia. His early years in entomology mostly involved museum work for the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and The Insectarium, a small pest control business gone educational that had an extensive live collection

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