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Honoring those who protect California's bounty

Good guys who do it right can finish first.

Galen Hiett of Fresno, Calif., has done it right for almost 50 years and finished with a roomful of peers who sent him into retirement recently with accolades as a mentor and a pioneer in the business of crop consulting on the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley.

Hiett was a (PCA) pest control adviser before California had licensed PCAs. He started his career in 1959 with chemical suppliers. While working for then retailer FMC, Galen convinced his boss that a man could make money for the company consulting without selling chemicals.

Galen later became one of the first independent PCAs in the valley, creating a path many have followed.

His passion for his profession and California agriculture are unsurpassed. His observation skills are without equal.

Galen has always been a profession leader, never hesitating to look at something new. He worked with UC Extension and commercial companies alike in testing new chemistry or other pest control techniques. However, before he would recommend a new product for use on his grower/client fields, he had to see it in action on one of his fields. Galen's test plots are legendary. They made applicators cringe. An applicator was overheard by a grower once complaining about Galen's test plots. Galen's client told the applicators to quit complaining and do what Galen wanted.

Jeremy Hughes, who now farms with his dad in the valley, spent his summers away from college checking fields for Galen. “You have no idea how much Galen hates to spray a field,” recalled Jeremy. “He hates to spend money needlessly.”

Galen was legendary about asking his summer field checkers to repeatedly “double check” insect numbers or disease pressure in a field. He often did the same for fields he personally checked. What he hates worse than spraying is seeing economic crop damage.

As a packed meeting room of his peers at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center honored Galen upon his retirement, Galen, humble to a fault, recognized the agricultural professionals in the room as deserving as much recognition and credit as he was getting.

He was right. Scanning the room, it was impossible to calculate the millions of acres of food and fiber those in the room had protected from pests over the years. Literally millions were fed and clothed from the fruits of the labor of the agricultural consultants, the California PCAs, in that room.

I honor Galen Hiett and his peers for putting inexpensive food on my family's table and economical clothes on my family for decades.

The San Joaquin Valley is one of the most fertile agricultural valleys in the world. Its climate also makes it one of the most ideal places in the world for agricultural pests to thrive. It has been the Galen Hietts who over the years have kept those pests from robbing food from the world's tables.

Thanks Galen and friends.

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