MCKENZIE BRIDGE, Oregon (STPNS) -- VIDA: To become the NGS Grower of the Year one must not only be a leader in their hazelnut production endeavors, but must also exhibit commitment to and involvement in the hazelnut industry organizations.
This year the recipient, John Sullivan, hails from Oregon’s own McKenzie River. When John and his wife Carol came back to Oregon from their successful journey in the world of finance on the East coast, they took residence in a home along the river. It lies in the midst of a wonderful orchard that had been in the family for a very long time. “Filacres” is a landmark for folks heading over the McKenzie Pass.
John being the quick study that he is, figured out very fast that his best move would be to take advantage of the knowledge of his neighbors and family to determine both how to care for their orchard and how to get the most benefit from the hazelnut industry organizations. He also became involved in numerous other community boards and commissions.
John is a past President of the Nut Growers Society, has served on the Oregon Hazelnut Commission since 2008 - as treasurer for most of that time - a member of the Hazelnut Marketing Board Promotion Committee, a member of the Industry Proration Committee and an active participant on the Commodity Commission Advisory Committee.
When John attends a meeting he does so at the 10,000 foot level. He sits back and listens closely to incredibly complicated issues. He then brilliantly sifts through the latticework of an issue and ends up with a short list of things that need to be done.
John joins other Growers of the Year in having made a lasting impact on the organizations in which they have been involved. Generally the Grower of the Year recipient has done something within the industry organizations in the past year that sets him apart from the rest of the growers. For John this is no exception. Last year as we saw the Oregon Department of Agriculture Commodity Commission expenses escalate. John provided guidance for the Commission as well as input into the State committee that oversees the program. He opened doors for the industry to get extra food safety research done that would not have happened otherwise.
Also on the Commission side, a great deal of effort by several individuals was spent on designing a system for establishing royalties for the new hazelnut variety releases from the OSU breeding program. Countless meetings and versions of an agreement were poured over by commissioners. Ultimately however, in each meeting, John was able to hone in on the important couple of items that needed attention.
John is a supportive advocate of both the industry Sustainability Program and the Food Safety Initiative. He provided encouragement for growers to have their farm plans in order during Summer Tour 2011.
Rarely is John positioned in the limelight but as a gatekeeper of grower dollars he ensures that decisions have to be made that are in sync with grower and handler wishes. He distills down the issues and provides solution oriented direction. This has been so important to the success of working relationships within and outside industry entities.
Another achievement last year was a partnership with the Eugene Water and Electric Board to do Integrated Pest Management re-search along the river. This appears to have become a multi-year project that the industry could not have achieved independently.
On the promotion side, John and Carol were a part of a half hour radio broadcast about the hazelnut industry not long ago. Following the airing; I thanked the producer for such a great segment. She replied, she did nothing, she had very articulate people to work with and it was a pleasure.
Finally, John is always looking down the road. Right now he is helping to put the industry on track to be prepared for the expanding acreage, growing crop size and changing needs in the industry office.
John is a gentleman and a hazelnut grower most deserving as a recipient of the 2012 Nut Grower’s Society Grower of the Year.
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