The LMCA presented Dr. Mary Grodner with the Hathaway Ritter Distinguished Achievement Award at the Spring Workshop in Alexandria. A reception was held on Wednesday evening in honor of Mary and her contributions to the LMCA. Matt Yates welcomed everyone and gave a historical perspective of Mary's service.
Her formal education began at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia where she received an A.B. Degree in Biology in 1955. She then took a Grad. Teaching Assistantship at LSU from 1955-58 receiving her MS in Zoology. This led her to taking her two sons until 1966 when she returned to Baton Rouge to work for the USDA-ARS. In 1969 she returned to LSU as a Grad Research Assistant, became an Instructor in 1971 and received her PhD in Entomology in 1973. She worked as an Asst. Professor of Zoology at LSU until 1979. She was then hired as the Associate Specialist of Pesticide Safety for the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service in 1980, which marked the beginning of her long association and service with LMCA. In 1985 she was elevated to Pesticide Safety Specialist for the extension service until her retirement in 2009.
She served on the Board of Directors and numerous committees for approximately 25 years, serving as President in 1990 and also ion 2000 upon the untimely passing of Dr. Lamar Meek. Mary's passion revolved around training and played an integral part in the development of the Annual Spring Workshop. She had a stubborn persistence in getting the message out to all in the industry, the importance of pesticide safety. If you were attending an LMCA workshop you knew Mary was going to be there to cover pesticide safety with lots of energy, talent and a broad knowledge base of factual information. This gave her the unique ability to teach and entertain those who attended her presentations. She kept a balanced perspective of pesticide toxicity, human health, regulations and current pesticide issues. Over the years her expertise was called upon by our association to defend and support mosquito control in Louisiana, which she did on many occasions in her unselfish style of a true advocate for our industry.
Mary also played a big role in developing the Louisiana Mosquito Abatement Plan after the West Nile virus outbreak in 2002. The LMAP is a planning tool that parishes without mosquito control programs can use to develop a control program designed to meet their specific needs. It's also a great resource for people in the mosquito control profession and for those outside the profession to learn about the elements which make up a quality mosquito control program.
The LMCA was most fortunate to have someone like Mary help shape our training program, making it one of the models in the industry. Her contributions will be felt for many years to come. We wish her a long and happy retirement!
"she was our teacher, mentor and friend".