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Bonanno named extension director

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at NC State University has a new director.

Dr. A. Richard Bonanno of Methuen, Mass., joined extension on Feb. 1. To the position of director and associate dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Bonanno brings strong experience in and commitment to agriculture, extension education and leadership, according to CALS Dean Richard Linton.

Before coming to NC State, Bonanno owned and operated a farm just north of Boston specializing in fresh market vegetables, bedding plants and vegetable transplants. In addition, he had been an adjunct professor and extension educator with the University of Massachusetts since 1989.

With UMass, Bonanno’s focus was on vegetable and small fruit weed management for the six New England states. He also provided leadership for New England in training efforts related to fresh produce food safety.

Bonanno also has significant administrative and leadership experience, having served for six years as president of the 6,000-member Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation. In that volunteer position, his work focused on local, state and national regulatory and legislative issues affecting agriculture. He has also served on the American Farm Bureau Federation board of directors.

While Bonanno has spent much of his life in Massachusetts, he is not a stranger to North Carolina. In fact, after earning his Ph.D. in plant physiology and horticultural crops from Oregon State University in 1982, he joined the faculty at NC State, serving as a Cooperative Extension weed specialist and CALS researcher for vegetable crops from 1983 to 1989.

Bonanno succeeds Dr. Travis Burke, who has held the interim position since July 2015, following the retirement of Dr. Joseph Zublena.

N.C. Cooperative Extension is the university’s largest outreach program, with centers serving every county and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. Programs focus on agriculture, food and 4-H youth development.

– Dee Shore