Three from CANR named Distinguished Academic Staffers

Philip Schwallier, George Silva and Lois Wolfson were given the Distinguished Academic Staff Award in 2018.

Agriculture Hall

An invaluable resource and mentor to numerous Michigan State University (MSU) Extension professionals, Philip G. Schwallier is a leader in commercial tree fruit production. In Michigan and the Great Lakes region, he is considered the resident expert in apple thinning and specifically in the use of apple growth regulators. He has been involved with work related to apple maturity, postharvest storage, marketing and integrated pest management. His educational projects include several guidebooks for fruit producers. Mr. Schwallier worked to bring cutting-edge technology to producers. Even before the university used formal websites, he built one to share the latest information on apple growing. He was one of the first MSU Cooperative Extension agents with a mobile phone, brought the first weather monitoring stations to the Ridge and works with today’s EnviroWeather system. He has worked with industry groups and specialists to bring new ideas to the apple industry including research and programming with the Michigan State Horticultural Society, the Michigan Apple Committee, the Northeast Plant Growth Regulator group and the International Fruit Tree Association. Currently, he is working on the mechanization of apple production systems, such as harvest and in-field sorting platforms. He recently collaborated with a colleague to establish the MSU Ridge Apple Lab and to obtain a computerized line to improve the production and quality of Michigan apples. For his dedication to apples in Michigan and beyond in addition to his ongoing commitment to agricultural education, Philip G. Schwallier is most deserving of the MSU Distinguished Academic Staff Award.

George SIlva is a nationally recognized Michigan State University (MSU) senior Extension educator in plant nutrient management and unmanned aerial systems technology. He is the first MSU Extension educator to pass the Federal Aviation Agency knowledge test to become a licensed pilot-in-command to operate drones for Extension programming. His annual crop and pest management workshop delivers current, research-based MSU Extension insect, weed, disease and fertilizer recommendations to company professionals, service providers and the farming community. Mr. Silva is dedicated to promoting sustainable approaches to farming to enhance the biological productivity of the soil and maintain the safety of air and water resources. In keeping up with changes in local and global markets, he has embraced the paradigm shift facing U.S. farmers, from a commodity-based production system to a market-oriented, customer-focused production system and is dedicated to helping it become more sustainable and profitable. He has published extensively including bulletins, news articles and a series on the challenges to feeding 50 billion people in 2050. He has developed three web pages. He is also the current webmaster of the field crops team, which provides the field crop industry with up-to-date information. For his enduring commitment to promoting environmentally, economically and socially sustainable agricultural practices and his support of farmers and the agriculture industry, George Silva is a most worthy recipient of the MSU Distinguished Academic Staff Award.

Throughout her remarkable career, Lois G. Wolfson has advanced understanding of water resource protection and management, and supported connections with colleagues and peers to help them succeed. She builds and maintains networks among water resource stewards in Michigan and nationwide while contributing her own expertise and enthusiasm. She developed and delivered long-term outreach and extension programs, including the “Michigan Lake and Stream Leaders Institute,” a leadership training program, and “Introduction to Lakes,” an award-winning online course. For 26 years, she has organized the Great Lakes Conference at Michigan State University. She has served as a mentor to countless students and peers, offering support, insight and humor. She immediately responded to the Flint Water Crisis in 2016 by co-authoring an MSU Extension bulletin for homeowners, “A Guide to Home Water Treatment,” along with several news articles on lead in home water supplies. She served on the program development team for “Water School: Essential Resources for Local Officials,” which delivered relevant, science-based information about water science and the management of Michigan’s water resources to encourage sound decision making by local officials in the management, protection and stewardship of Michigan’s water resources. She provided critical expertise throughout the curriculum’s development and specifically helped develop and present the “Water Quality” unit. For her record of outreach, teaching, research and service and commitment to the management, protection and preservation of Michigan’s waters, Lois Wolfson is a most deserving recipient of this award.


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