More local agriculture pioneers have been inducted into the Kent Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Ron Pitblado is one of the four latest inductees this year.
“I know Ron would be honoured,” said Ron’s wife, Diane Pitblado. “He took great pride in his work which makes this recognition of his efforts all the more meaningful.”
In 1973, Dr. Clay Switzer, former Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College in Ridgetown, recommended Dr. Pitblado for a position at the Ridgetown Campus.
Dr. Pitblado researched vegetable pest management and taught thousands of students at the Ridgetown Campus, sharing his excitement for developing insect and disease strategies for horticultural crops.
Born on September 26, 1946, in St. Catherines, son of Jack and Mabel (Foster) Pitblado, Ron graduated from the University of Guelph.
Pitblado’s excitement for developing insect and disease strategies for horticultural crops eventually led him to teach thousands of students and travel the globe investigating opportunities and sharing his knowledge.
He considered his greatest achievement to be the opportunity to provide agricultural producers and agriculture diploma students with meaningful straight answers to their farming questions.
He often said he found it rewarding to first meet students in the classroom and, later, to work with them as Ontario producers.
Pitblado also developed BeetCast to assist sugar beet production, TomCast for tomato production, and helped develop the Ontario Weather Network.
During his research career, his special interest was fungal and bacterial diseases of tomatoes, Cercospora leaf spot and Rhizoctonia crown rot in sugar beets, cabbage and pepper insects and diseases, sweet corn rust, European corn borer, and potato insects.
His research addressed the pest management research, teaching and extension concerns of the processing vegetable and sugar beet industries, particularly in the areas of plant pathology and entomology. He also developed pest control strategies for greenhouse vegetable plug plants.
In addition, Dr. Pitblado held several leadership positions, including horticulture section head, associate director of academics and acting campus director while at the Ridgetown Campus.
According to Dr. Art Schaafsma, who was a colleague and campus director, Ron’s distinguished 34-year career with Ridgetown Campus is unparalleled.
“Ron’s unstoppable passion for investigating new possibilities for agriculture, particularly of Ontario’s fruit and vegetable industry, defined his extensive teaching, research, and extension career,” said Schaafsma.
Dr. Pitblado retired in 2007 and died in Chatham on November 11, 2009.
The Kent Agricultural Hall of Fame has inducted 197 members since its inception in 1989. The Hall has also supported another 17 Chatham-Kent agriculturalists into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame.
“With the respect he is being shown today, he is truly wonderful to know he didn’t only make a difference in the lives of his family, he made a difference in the lives of so many others as well,” said Diane.
The mission of the Hall is to recognize people who have demonstrated unselfish achievement in agriculture and/or service to the rural community of Chatham-Kent and/or beyond.
“I think all of today’s inductions have certainly done that. Thank you again so much for honoring my husband in this way.”
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