ESD’s Ernie Lugo receives AZDA’s Employee of the Year Award.
By: Jack Peterson, ESD Associate Director
On December 2nd, during the Annual Arizona Agribusiness Roundtable, Arizona Department of Agriculture’s Director Mark Killian and Gilbert Davidson who was attending on Governor Doug Ducey’s behalf, gave ESD Inspector Ernie Lugo the AZDA’s Employee of the Year award.
Director Killian told those in attendance about Ernie’s accomplishments at the department. He explained how Ernie started the ESD’s Newsletter of which three editions have been published. Our newsletter, “The ESD Review”, said Dir. Killian, provides useful information to our regulated community.
He also spoke about Ernie’s involvement in the implementation of ESD’s Ag in Schools Program at the Somerton Middle School. The purpose of this program is to bring a realistic farming experience to Jr. high school age students by acting as a liaison between a grower and a school. Ernie developed a lesson plan that includes, industrial safety, food safety, soil preparation, seeds and germination, irrigation, harvesting and other important topics.
Another project that Ernie was involved with was the development and production of a pesticide safety video that was filmed in Arizona so that AZ Ag Workers can relate to it during the training. Ernie was a member of a committee that made this video and obtained federal approval from the Environmental Protection Agency so that it can be used by certified pesticide safety trainers nationwide.
Ernie isn’t just an inspector, he’s sees agriculture as a whole and wants the department to be part of that, not only in our primary regulatory role, but that of an advocate and educator to help make everyone’s job easier.
Now having said that, Ernie is ESD’s best investigator. His prior law enforcement experience has helped him be able to ask hard questions that you or I may feel uncomfortable doing and yet when he does, those questioned realize it is done with respect and fulfilling the crucial role of an investigator.
Ernie said, “It’s been an awesome 5 years and an honor to have been given the opportunity to serve the Ag industry and the citizens of the great State of Arizona. I hope to be around for many more.”
CONGRATULATIONS, Ernie and keep up the good work!