Perhaps no one is more surprised than Lisa Jenereaux that she’s the new president of the International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA), the first female to hold the role. When she became orchard manager for Spurr Bros back in 2000, her memories of the family farm near Melvern Square, Nova Scotia were of “picking up the drops” and removing brush.
“I’ve had a lot of support from the tree fruit community,” says Jenereaux, recalling her first IFTA meeting in 2003. “My grandfather used to go to these meetings.”
Apple farming was not her intended career path. She started out in the travel and tourism business, before being lured back to the home farm in 2000. The unexpected opportunity was to fulfill the role of orchard manager. She describes the first three years as a steep learning curve, but welcomed the many educational opportunities at conferences and workshops.
IFTA, a 300-member organization, has played a large role in professional development, both in agronomics and leadership. Jenereaux, who was elected at the February 24-28, 2019 annual meeting in Rochester, New York, has been on the board for the last six years. One of her priorities is to maintain a superior level of education with the best speakers and presentations possible. Another goal is to encourage the next generation of apple growers.
“If you look around a meeting room, there’s a gap between the 50-year-olds and the 30-year-olds,” says Jenereaux. “We will have a hard time bridging that gap and it’s a real challenge for the industry in the years to come. We will be encouraging this younger generation to take on leadership roles earlier.”
Jenereaux leads a 12-member board of directors with two others from Canada: Chris Hedges from Ontario and Hank Markgraf from British Columbia. She will be attending the IFTA summer study tour to be held in Ontario’s Norfolk County and Georgian Bay areas from July 21-24.