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Bob Mungari

NYS Ag and Market's Robert J. Mungari receives Excellence in IPM Award

by Mary Woodsen

During the week, Robert J. Mungari directs the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Division of Plant Industry -- a division he has worked in for thirty years. For nearly as long, he has suited up in a striped shirt and whistle to referee weekend high school football games. On the turf, he's honed his abilities to understand complex rules, use sound judgment, and deliver decisions diplomatically. Those skills have also served him well in the world of New York State agriculture, and that is why he was honored with an "Excellence in IPM Award" from the New York State Integrated Pest Management (NYS IPM) Program at Cornell University on December 7, 2007 at a meeting in Geneva, NY.

NYS Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Pat Hooker, Bob Mungari, and Jim Tette

From left to right: NYS Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Pat Hooker, Bob Mungari, and Jim Tette (former IPM director).

Mungari has been a strong supporter of NYS IPM since the very start, helping to write the legislation that established the program in the 1980s. And he's a steadfast friend, preaching the gospel of IPM to each new governor and his administration.

"Bob has consistently been a champion for the NYS IPM program," says Michael Hoffmann, who directs the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station. "He believes in the mission of the program and fully appreciates all that the program contributes to the wellbeing of the environment, the state, and its 19 million citizens. Regardless of changes in the administration in Albany over the years, Bob has always been there to provide a consistent message about IPM."

Mungari doesn't have an easy job. He must meet and balance the needs of many stakeholders including growers, scientists, and bureaucrats. He's known for developing policies that use sound scientific protocol and up-to-date research but also are practical and economically viable for growers.

"Bob truly believes in IPM," says Curtis Petzoldt, NYS IPM Assistant Director. "He has a commitment to making IPM happen in New York and seeing the benefits that can come to agricultural producers from implementing IPM practices."

The fact that he is able to remain well-liked while he has to do difficult things, such as declare quarantines to control invasive pests, is a testament to his fairness and good nature. (And IPM is always part of his plan to handle invasive pests.) Mungari also directs the New York State Apiary Program, helping beekeepers detect and manage bee diseases.

Mungari began working Agriculture and Markets in 1978. Before becoming director, he served as horticulture inspector, agricultural entomologist, assistant director, and acting director. He earned Bachelors and Masters degrees from State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Mungari has been a long-standing member of the NYS IPM Operating Committee and is also a member of the Community IPM Coordinating Council.

"Bob has devoted his entire career to working quietly behind the scenes to protect our food supply, which we Americans often take for granted," says Patrick Hooker, commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. "All New Yorkers, not just those of us fortunate enough to be part of our great agricultural family, owe a great deal to Bob Mungari."

NYS IPM brings together a wide range of pest management options to help people chose the lowest-risk method that works in their situation.