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Mr. Wilfred R. 'Bill' Jester - Curriculum Vitae

Current Position:

Extension Associate and Horticulturist.  I am part of the NC Specialty Crops Program Management Team and serve as the program coordinator. My program revolves around extension and applied research of vegetable crops, especially lettuce, melons, leguminous crops, sweetpotatoes. My appointment is 100% extension. My work often involves problem solving and collaboration with other departments and universities to solve these problems.

Professional Experience

Area Specialized Agent –Commercial Vegetables and Fruit, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, Raleigh, NC, 1988–2001, Extension work  in a five county area in Eastern NC. Primary responsibilities were to encourage diversification in a primary tobacco region and provide educational support to growers. Conducted educational programs and applied research in vegetable crops and several small fruit crops.  Facilitated tobacco farmers in diversifying into vegetable and fruit crops resulting in over 20 million dollars of produce processing and cooling facilities being built from 1986 to 2001.  Left to accept extension associate position after being offered a specialist position at Virginia Tech University

County Extension Director – Pender Co, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, Raleigh, NC 1985-1989.  Responsibilities included administration, horticultural crops and peanuts. Left position to become Area Specialized Agent.

County Extension Director –Perquimans Co, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, Raleigh, NC 1979-1985, Conducted educational programs in Field and Horticultural crops and community and rural development. As County Extension Director, I was res­ponsible for the administrative duties of the county office, and for providing leadership and direction to the staff and office.

County Extension Agent- Tyrrell Co, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, Raleigh, NC 1978-1979, Conducted educational programs in Field and Horticultural crops. Reason for leaving: Promoted to County Extension Director.

Agricultural Supervisor& Field Man – Fruitland, Maryland,  Green Giant Company, 1974-1978, Responsible for contracting pea and snap bean acres with farmers. Supervised the scheduling, planting and harvesting of each crop. I furnished growers with the latest information on cultural practices and pest control.  Prepared annual competitive crops analysis utilized in determining company's raw product price. Purchased and inspected New York State snap beans for shipment to our plant. Reason for leaving: The processing plant was closing and I accepted a job with N.C. Extension Service


  • 1969: B.S. in Botany and Plant Physiology, University of Maryland, College Park, Md.
  • 1969: Graduated University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado School of Social Action.
  • 1973: MS in Plant Science / Plant Pathology, University of Delaware, Newark, Del.
  • 1973: Iowa State University, Dept of Botany and Plant Pathology PhD program.  Did not complete the program.

Additional Misc. education: Irrigation Design and Management, Investment Analysis, Land Appraisal, Risk Management, IPM Theory and Strategies, Water Resource Management, Sustainable Cropping Systems and many others.

Job Accomplishments

I have hands-on expertise with many crops including corn, cotton, peanut, soybean, tobacco, many vegetables and fruit crops.  The vegetable crops include tomato, pepper, eggplant, cucurbits, Irish potato, bean, sweet potato, greens and those grown in the greenhouse.  During the last fifteen years I have helped many tobacco farmers diversify into vegetable crops.

I can work with and organize people.  I have led efforts which resulted in the organization of two area IPM cooperative (1980 and 1985), the Carolina Strawberry Cooperative (1991) and the Southeastern Growers Association (1997).  The Southeast Growers Association is a cooperative made up of 25 growers which sold over 6 million dollars worth of produce (2006).

In 1990, I organized a committee to facilitate crop diversification by tobacco farmers in Eastern North Carolina.  This committee, composed of representatives from nine eastern North Carolina counties, has helped raised more than $1.45 million to help this cause.  With the committee’s help, a proposal was developed aimed at locating an Export and Alternative Crop Market Development Center in Eastern NC.  From 1997 to the present I have coordinated the extension efforts of the North Carolina State University’s Specialty Crop Program.  From 1997 to the present I have served as a technical advisor to the Southeast Growers Association, a cooperative with members in six counties that also evolved out of the work of crop diversification committee.

Collaborative research and extension work on micropropagated-virus indexed sweetpotato conducted with Dr Charles Averre led to the adoption of micropropagated-virus indexed clones into the Foundation Seed Program and the development of numerous industries related the production of clean seed stock or planting material.  I have assisted growers in setting up greenhouses for the multiplication of virus-indexed micropropagated sweet potato plants. I was involved with the Micropropagation Unit at NCSU and cooperating growers in a project to produce disease-free strawberry nursery stock in North Carolina and revive the strawberry nursery industry.

I have conducted and participated in more than 250 research tests and demonstrations in my 30 year career.   Results of trials have been published in scientific journals and reported at local, state and national meetings.  Cooperative research and demonstration projects have been conducted with various companies, growers associations and others.

In 1995 and 1997, I conducted a six-week Greenhouse management course, which graduated 58 rural people.  Seventeen of these graduates successfully started and operate greenhouse enterprises since graduating from the short course.  Many agents and growers in North Carolina use as a resource the Greenhouse Management Handbook that was developed for this course and co-edited by me. From 1985, I gave leadership

I have hosted tours for growers and university vegetable personnel from the United States (Alabama, California, Florida, Maryland, Louisiana, New York, Virginia) and internationally (Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, New Zealand).  I have led and participated in vegetable tours of California, Canada, Florida, France, Great Britain, Maryland, Mexico, Michigan, New Jersey, Louisiana and New Mexico. I have attended and participated in the National Pepper Conference, the National Onion Conference, the National Cucurbitaceae, the Sweet Potato Collaborators and the Southern Horticultural Society Meetings. Through these contacts I have come to know key produce people on both coasts.

I was selected to participate in a North Carolina State University project in Costa Rica in 1993 (North Carolina in the World). I have been a technical adviser and consultant to concerns in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. 

Funding 2006-2007

  • Received $18,000 from the NC Ag Foundation to work on cultural practices in Lettuce.
  • Received a grant from the National Watermelon Association to study the influence of cultural regimes and fungicides on the incidence of Phytophthora fruit rot and vine necrosis in watermelon ($16,700).
  • Received a grant from the North Carolina Vegetable Growers Association to evaluate Lettuce production on-farm ($1200).
  • Received $2000 from BASF Corporation (through) UAP) to examine the effects of Headliner fungicide on Beauregard sweet potato post harvest quality.
  • Received support for the melon evaluation trials. Harris Moran ($2000), Sakata Co.($3000), Seminis Seeds ($2000), Syngenta ($5,000), Nunhems ($890), Zeraim Gedera ($600).
  • Was awarded a Golden Leaf Grant to identify adapted varieties and scheduling across the state for $150,000 which began in January 2007 and involves colleagues Holmes, Monks and NC A&T professor Carl Niedzela.

Honors and Awards

  • SRASHS Henry Covington Award for Extension Excellence-2007
  • NC Vegetable Growers Association – Educator of the Year -2006
  • NC Vegetable Growers Association - Support to the NC Vegetable Industry -2004
  • NC Vegetable Growers Association- Educator of the Year -1997
  • NC Vegetable Growers Association-Contributions to the NC Vegetable Industry-1993
  • NC in the World-1993
  • Perquimans Co Commissioners Service to the County Award-1985
  • Director’s Extension Service Leadership Award- 1985
  • Epsilon Sigma Phi Excellence Award - Best County Extension Program-NE District (1982)
  • Sigma Xi (National Research Honor Society) – 1973

Membership in Professional Organizations

  • American Society of Horticultural Science, 1990-present.
  • ASHS Southeast Region,
  • American Phytopathological Society
  • NC Phytopathological Society


  • 2006: Departmental Seminar Committee
  • 2002-2005: Departmental Awards Committee
  • 2000-2003: Global TransPark Regional Ag Committee
  • 2002 to the present: Horticultural Advisor to the NC Vegetable Growers Association
  • 1997 to 2003: NC Micropropagation Unit Advisory Committee
  • 1997 to the present: a technical advisor to the Southeast Growers Association, a cooperative with members in six Eastern NC counties.
  • 1997 to the present: Coordinator of Extension Efforts for the North Carolina State University’s Specialty Crop Program.
  • 1999: Task Force to improve departmental participation in the CEMP’s (Major Program Efforts).
  • 1998-99: Adviser to the research committee of the NC Strawberry Growers Association
  • 1995-96: Agent liaison to the board of directors of the North Carolina Vegetable Growers Association.
  • 1995:  State Major Program Co-chair for the Production and Marketing of Alternative Agricultural Enterprises:
  • 1993: NCSU Change Budget Committee.
  • 1992: Federal Task Force on Area Agents