Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, received the 2019 Key Partner Award from Michigan State University Extension during its annual conference Oct. 29 in Traverse City.
The award acknowledges those who have made significant contributions to support and promote MSU Extension programs.
Smith is completing her 23rd year of working on behalf of the Michigan Apple Committee, which is based in Lansing, and continues to support the success of the industry. MSU Extension staff who serve tree fruit growers across the state nominated Smith for the award, thanks to her ongoing leadership and commitment to Michigan’s bountiful apple industry.
“The Michigan Apple Committee represents growers, who basically kind of taxed themselves and use that fund for research and marketing, and that's all overseen by Diane,” says Amy Irish-Brown, MSU Extension tree fruit educator. “She's also very instrumental in being involved at a national level. She sits on the [U.S. Apple] Export Council and has served in leadership roles in that way. If there's anything that needs to have the thumbprint of the Michigan apple industry on it, Diane's the person who oversees that or makes sure it gets taken care of.”
As executive director, Smith works to foster and continue strong relationships with various partners in Michigan, including MSU. She has worked with various centers of excellence and MSU on research that is vital to the apple industry.
“Apples are grown statewide, and with that, we work with Extension services all over the state,” Smith says. “We have many different microclimates across Michigan, so each MSU Extension educator has a different kind of dynamic that they're working with growers on — different soil types, different weather. It's amazing everything that they can do and solve problem-wise.”
Smith also has worked with Cornell University to allow for written contributions from MSU specialists and Extension educators to be included in the "Fruit Quarterly" publication that is sent to Michigan and New York growers. This partnership has allowed MSU faculty to extend their research to other production areas in the U.S.
Smith’s ongoing collaboration with MSU also includes her service as a member of the review panel for MSU’s Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs). In addition, she is one of the commodity leaders behind the development of the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission and oversees the accounting for the organization.
Respected by peers and a member of various organizations, Smith’s efforts often enhance the success of apple growers, not only in Michigan but also across the U.S.
Smith serves in numerous national and international roles that benefit the entire U.S. apple industry while simultaneously strengthening the Michigan specialty crop industry in a global marketplace setting.
Smith received the Key Partner Award alongside four other outstanding MSU Extension partners. Partnerships are critical to MSU Extension’s efforts to help people across the state improve their lives by bringing the vast knowledge and resources of MSU directly to individuals, communities and businesses. To learn more, visit extension.msu.edu.