Beth Gugino (center) and PVGA President Rita Resick (left) and PA Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding (right).

Each year, the Association recognizes an individual who had demonstrated a noteworthy record of service and dedication to either the state’s vegetable, potato or berry growers and/or the Association over their career. It is the Association’s highest honor. The year’s award winner, Beth Gugino, Penn State Extension Vegetable Pathologist and Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies, has an outstanding record of service to the Pennsylvania vegetable industry and its growers, and to the Association.  The award was presented by PVGA President Rita Resick on January 31, 2023, at the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Banquet at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey.

Gugino earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and master’s and doctoral degrees in plant pathology, all from Penn State.  She was a postdoctoral scholar in plant pathology at Cornell University from 2004 to 2008 before joining the faculty in Penn State’s Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology as an assistant professor.

She achieved the ranks of associate professor in 2014 and full professor in 2019. Gugino also has been director of graduate studies for the department since 2016.  Just last year, she was named the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

Beth has been a thesis or dissertation adviser or co-adviser for 12 graduate students and has served on the graduate committees of more than 30 others. She also has contributed to courses in integrated pest management and has mentored nine undergraduates during independent research or internships.

Her research and extension interests include integrated vegetable disease management, plant pathogen diagnosis, disease monitoring and forecasting, and sustainable crop production. She works with research faculty, extension specialists and county-based educators to develop integrated pest and crop management strategies to address important and emerging diseases of the major vegetable crops grown in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Gugino also has focused on existing and new technologies that can provide growers and other agricultural service providers with research-based information on pathogen biology, epidemiology and vegetable disease management. She has authored or co-authored 37 peer-reviewed journal articles, 80 conference proceedings and scores of extension publications and trade journal articles. In addition, she has given more than 350 extension presentations.

She has served on several college and University committees and is a member of the American Phytopathological Society and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture as well as PVGA. She has been a valued liaison between the University and the Association’s Board of Directors.  She served on the board of directors of Pennsylvania Certified Organic from 2017 to 2021, and she is currently a member of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Pesticide Advisory Board.

Among her numerous awards and honors are the 2019 American Phytopathological Society Excellence in Extension Award, the 2013-14 Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology Excellence in Teaching Award, and the 2011 American Phytopathological Society Northeastern Division Early Career Professional Award. She was inducted into Gamma Sigma Delta – Honor Society of Agriculture and Phi Alpha Xi – Honor Society of Horticulture.

Beth and her husband Jeff have been married 23 years. They have two amazing dogs…Flora and Stone. She loves being outside, playing in nature year-round. She enjoys trail running, mountain biking, cross country skiing, hiking to vistas and climbing waterfalls. On a really nice day, she would choose a long motorcycle ride in search of an out-of-the-way diner, drive-in or dive.

Most important to her is spending time with family and friends. This usually revolves around a wonderful meal, a glass of wine and lots of laughter. She likes the time she gets to spend with her parents who live in the State College area. The end of a perfect day for her would involve sitting on the back patio with friends; Cosmo in hand, watching the dogs play in the yard as the sun set over the Scotia forest.

Fourteen years ago PVGA presented its Annual Award to Gugino’s predecessor as the Penn State Extension Vegetable Plant Pathologist.  She had big shoes to fill but she has traveled countless miles across the state visiting grower farms and speaking at grower meetings besides writing a multitude of articles and updates for growers over the past 13 years.  Besides the honors listed above, she has earned the respect and trust of Pennsylvania’s vegetable growers whom she has served well.  It is for that reason that the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association is pleased to present it’s 2023 Annual Award to Dr. Beth Gugino.