New MSU Extension field crops educator in southwest Michigan

Nicolle Ritchie has a strong background in integrated pest management and is passionate about managing pest resistance and improving soil health.

Nicolle Ritchie stands in a field smiling.
New educator Nicolle Ritchie scouting a potato field. Photo by Nicolle Ritchie, MSU Extension.

Nicolle Ritchie is the new Michigan State University Extension field crops educator. She will be covering Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties and is based out of St. Joseph County. With a strong background in integrated pest management, she hopes to help growers diversify pest management techniques while taking a whole-system approach to resistance management and focus on improving nutrient use efficiency and sustainability in practical and approachable ways. She loves thinking outside the box to synthesize creative solutions and tie scientific principles into what she’s seeing in the fields.

Ritchie grew up in southwest Michigan. As a child, she always enjoyed being outside and interacting with the natural world, but her strong interest in agriculture developed after spending several summers at her grandparents’ dairy farm in southeast Idaho. As a teenager, she remembers her dad asking her and her siblings what type of corn (commercial or seed) they were passing as they would drive to church and how to tell the differences between each. After high school, she began scouting corn, soybeans, potatoes and cucumbers for a local co-op and thoroughly enjoyed being outside and finding and diagnosing problems in the field.

Ritchie served the people of central Argentina as a missionary before attending Utah State University, where she majored in plant science and minored in Spanish. Her love of learning led her to seek out a variety of experiences and jobs. She has worked in consumer horticulture and floriculture, tree crops and several field crops. One of her favorite experiences was working with almonds and pistachios in southern California, where she tested water quality, tracked navel orangeworm flights with pheromone traps and helped run an orchard sanitation crew. She returned to southwest Michigan and worked with a potato farm agronomy team for three years as a crop scout and agronomy assistant, specializing in insect management. One of her favorite parts of crop scouting was watching the sun rise from the field.

Ritchie enjoys music and, when she’s not outside, plays French horn in a local symphony. She also loves to read and draw. She enjoys serving in her community—especially the Latinx community—wherever she is, and of course, she loves working with plants in any capacity.

She is excited to be the new Michigan State University Extension field crops educator for southwest Michigan and looks forward to meeting and working with local growers and agribusinesses. Feel free to text, email or call her with questions or to set up a meeting.

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