Thomas, a crop consultant since 1982, works with commercial apple growers in Wayne County whose farms range from 15 - 600 acres. One of her greatest contributions to the field of IPM has been interpreting and putting to use the information provided by Cornell. Specifically, she has encouraged growers to manage apple scab by relying on rainfall data, rather than by applying calendar sprays. "We've fine-tuned the process," says Thomas. "I care about how much pesticide is out there."
Thomas also cares about growers' interests and is able to provide what she calls a "bird's-eye view" of what works and what doesn't. In previous years, by advocating a "soft program" that is less detrimental to beneficial organisms in the orchard and by pinpointing the timing of pesticide applications, Thomas was able to save her growers money. Today she thinks everyone has to work harder to ensure that new, softer pesticides are economically viable. Thomas advocates the use of predatory mites and sometimes sees growers shift perspective, changing their tolerance for damage, or becoming more willing to try biological control.
Sixteen years of experience has enabled Thomas to become well respected by growers and Cornell University staff and faculty. After earning a B.S. from Cornell University in 1981, she was hired by Seneca Foods to be their pest management supervisor for fruit orchards. In later years, she teamed up with consultant Jeff Alicandro of AgrAssistance and still cooperates closely with him.
Thomas is on the board of directors of NEWA (the Northeast Weather Association), regularly attends conferences and trade shows, and is active in her local Parent Teacher Association. She is the mother of five children.