Agriculture Forum: Success flows from loving what you do | Business

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know it when you find it.”

— Steve Jobs


As we kick off 2022 and my 18th season working with Michigan fruit growers, I cannot agree more with this statement.

I began my career at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center (NWMHRC) in September 2004, and my heart told me I was in the right place — pretty much right off the bat. I resonated with the principle that the NWMHRC was a research facility that was built by growers for growers.

The station’s founders and donors had a vision for a long-term commitment to the grower community, to Michigan agriculture, and to the unique region that we all cherish. I knew early on that this work and this place would be one I would come to love only more with time.

However, the only thing better than doing what you love is to be recognized for it by your peers. I was fortunate to be acknowledged by our growers at the Northwest Michigan Orchard and Vineyard Show this January.

This grower-led nod cited my service and leadership to the Michigan cherry industry, and it was quite a surprise to be mentioned. I come from a long line of leaders and service-oriented people who have been committed to the growers of northern Michigan.

We have seen many changes in fruit production here in the region over the 40-plus years since the station was built, but our purpose has been and will be to regularly communicate with growers to identify and prioritize needs and to develop doable solutions that address them .

We also have had our challenges in recent years — invasive insects, foreign imports, climate change — just to name a few, and we have worked hand-in-hand with growers to address those ongoing issues.

We have hustled after grants to support research efforts, and we have at least 30 ongoing research trials underway annually throughout northwest Michigan.

We are also fortunate to have a great team of Michigan State University researchers and Extension educators who partner with us to develop innovative research solutions.

We also have a small team locally at the NWMHRC that is tremendously dedicated to the well-being of our regional farms and farm families.

Despite the pandemic and remote learning, we have tried to continue to produce educational programs that provide growers with relevant and timely information to make quality, daily decisions for management on their farms. Our goal is for growers to produce a high-quality fruit crop annually.

I feel lucky to be able to do what I do and with people I like to do it with. I have a great local team and incredible support throughout Michigan.

So thank you to all our growers who gave me a shout-out for our work — it means the world to me!

I look forward to a successful growing season in 2022 and to working with all of you for many years to come.

Nikki Rothwell is a Michigan State University Extension district horticulturalist and coordinator of the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station.


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