UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Rob Crassweller, professor of horticulture and extension tree-fruit specialist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, has received the 2018 American Society for Horticultural Science Outstanding Extension Educator Award.
The award recognizes an educator who has had a distinguished and outstanding career as an extension educator in horticultural science for a period of 10 years or more.
"Thanks to Dr. Crassweller's leadership, the Pennsylvania fruit industry is successfully transitioning to intensive orchards with high-value cultivars, and the industry supports Penn State Extension," wrote Richard Marini, professor of horticulture, in nominating Crassweller for the honor. "For his many contributions and efforts, he is deserving of this award."
Crassweller joined the Department of Plant Science in 1983. Since that time, he has been a leader in Penn State Extension's tree-fruit program and currently serves as co-chair of extension's tree fruit and grape team. In addition to teaching a tree fruit science course, he conducts in-service training for county-based extension educators working with tree fruit and participates in field days and orchard tours. He also gives presentations at meetings around the state on related topics.
During his career, Crassweller has melded his applied research and extension activities by participating in several multistate initiatives, including helping to lead a project evaluating apple cultivars that received a research award. In addition, he developed an innovative computer-aided system for apple thinning, and his studies have led to fertilizer recommendations for tree-fruit and grape growers based on leaf or leaf-petiole analyses.
In 2013, Crassweller obtained funding to join the Network for Environment and Weather Applications developed by Cornell University. The information provided by weather monitoring stations in the program helps growers determine the proper time to apply chemical apple thinners.
His extension activities also include an international aspect. He has participated in 16 international assignments on three continents, working with fruit growers to implement production practices to improve their operations.
Crassweller has helped coordinate updates to the Penn State Tree Fruit Production Guide, is editor of Pennsylvania Fruit News, and is a contributing writer for Penn State Extension's Fruit Times newsletter.
He chairs the tree fruit program for the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference and coordinates the annual Mid-Atlantic Cider Competition.