The Midwest Apple Improvement Association (MAIA) is strengthening the support it provides to its more than 1,000 members by adding two industry veterans to its team.
With his deep background in horticulture, Bill Pitts joins as horticultural consultant and will work with growers as they increase MAIA-licensed apple production in their orchards. Karen Burkhart, with her extensive production and marketing experience, is senior VP, Atlantic operation and will promote MAIA’s apples to distributors and retailers and support grower marketing programs. Both will also be heavily involved in helping identify and market MAIA’s future varieties.
“We are incredibly excited to bring such strong talent onto the MAIA team, especially at such an important time for our association,” said Bill Dodd. “We’re past 1,000 members and growing. Our flagship EverCrisp is gaining widespread appreciation at farm stands and retail. And we’re bringing newer brands like LudaCrisp and Rosalee to a wider audience. Karen and Bill are great additions to help us reach our goals.”
Left to right: Bill Pitts, Karen Burkhart
Prior to MAIA, Pitts had been with Wafler Nursery in Wolcott, NY since 1979, when he joined the apple producer while still in high school. Over his 42 years with Wafler, Pitts worked in all aspects of the orchard and nursery, including production, tree sales, shipping, evaluating new varieties and root stocks, efficiency and quality control. He retired from Wafler this past spring. He resides in Sterling, NY.
Burkhart has a B.S. in agriculture from The Ohio State University, majoring in pomology. She started her career at Hilltop Nurseries in fruit tree sales where she stayed for two years. She then joined Knouse Foods Cooperative where, for 24 years, she served as the pesticide and raw fruit coordinator, reviewing grower spray records for all incoming raw fruit and coordinating grower maturity and storage studies for fruit quality. Burkhart lives in Martinsburg, WV.