How We Grow

2020 July/Aug How We Grow

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ALMOND COMMUNITY 17 Heintz Remembered for Leadership on Almond Production, Honey Bee Research Christi Heintz, director of Production Research and Environmental Affairs for the Almond Board of California (ABC) from 1996 to 2005, is being remembered by colleagues for her visionary leadership on almond production and environmental issues following her tragic death on May 11, 2020. Heintz was hiking on Black Mountain near Las Vegas when she was apparently stung by a bee and suffered a fatal allergic reaction. Tributes to Heintz poured in from former Almond Board staff and almond industry members who worked with Heintz when she managed research in the areas of pest and disease management, irrigation and nutrition, orchard management, varietal development and pollination. Oversight of environmental issues was added to Heintz's portfolio in 2001, when the Board created the Environmental Committee. During her tenure, the almond industry became actively involved in issues related to air and water quality, crop protection and the Endangered Species Act. President and CEO of the Almond Board Richard Waycott said, "I worked closely with Chris from the first day I joined ABC in 2002 through her departure in 2006, and beyond that as a consultant to ABC on apiary issues and as the founder and director of Project Apis m. (PAm.). She was my tutor on all things production and environmental as I climbed my learning curve in the almond industry. I am so grateful for those years working with Chris as a professional and friend. I send her family my most sincere condolences and wish them joy as they celebrate her life." Julie Adams, ABC's vice president in Global Technical & Regulatory Affairs, noted, "She was with the Board at a pivotal point, when it was a small staff and everyone had multiple responsibilities. Many of her activities led to bigger things – expanding into environmental issues, nutrition, bees, etc. She brought in a consultant, Gabriele Ludwig, to help with pesticide issues and later asked her to deal with that 'sustainability' area, which has grown from a small issue to a dominant issue." At the Almond Board, Heintz helped create the Honey Bee Task Force, which focused on honey bee health and pollination issues. In 2006, after leaving ABC, Heintz was instrumental in founding PAm., which has become the largest non-profit organization funding honey bee research projects in the United States and Canada. She served as PAm.'s executive director for 10 years before retiring in 2016. Chairman Emeritus of PAm. Dan Cummings worked with Heintz for more than 20 years at both ABC and PAm. He pointed out that, "Chris's contributions have been recognized by many distinguished service awards from various beekeeping organizations. Chris was an amazing compliment of vision and inspiration and always cheerful, a real pleasure to work with. Her contributions to the almond and walnut industries are incalculable. What a tragic loss for all of us." Gabriele Ludwig, Ph.D., ABC's director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, said she considers Heintz to be the "godmother or seed setter or initiator" of the Almond Board's sustainability program. "She sensed more than 15 years ago that this was going to be a key topic for In 2014, Heintz, Curtis and Ludwig (shown left to right) attended a Pollinator Partnership meeting in Washington, D.C.

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