Posted: Thursday, May 03, 2012 11:00 AM
Matthew Weaver/Capital Press
Washington State University weed ecologist Ian Burke shows off the prickly lettuce being grown for weed research in a greenhouse on the university's campus in Pullman, Wash., the afternoon of April 24. Burke has been maintaining the WSU Extension weed scientist program in Eastern Washington since November 2011, but growers will have a chance to meet candidates for the position in mid-May.
Leaders want 'a lot of growers to participate'
By MATTHEW WEAVER
PULLMAN, Wash. -- Ian Burke misses having another weed scientist to work with.
"Not having another weed scientist here to discuss problems or brainstorm solutions, I detect a hole there where I don't have enough interaction with another weed scientist," he said.
A weed ecologist at Washington State University since 2006, Burke has been maintaining the WSU Extension weed science program throughout Eastern Washington since former WSU Endowed Chair in Small Grains and Extension Weed Science Joe Yenish left in November 2010 to find a job in the private sector.
Rich Koenig, chair of WSU's Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, is seeking final approval to bring in two candidates mid-May to meet with growers.
"We're trying to target the lull when people get everything planted before they get to be doing much additional field work," Koenig said. "We're going to try to bring the candidates in at a time when we can hopefully get a lot of growers to participate in this process."
Koenig declined to name the candidates, but said they are "clearly outstanding individuals." One person comes from within the U.S., and the other from outside the country, he said. Several other candidates are in reserve.
Burke is the first to admit that the program isn't at the same level it was under Yenish. Yenish made more than 60 weed science extension presentations a year, while Burke has made seven.
"I'm trying to keep the information flowing, being strategic in my extension output, trying to get as much contact with growers as I can," Burke said.