2022 Distinguished Service Awards

Steve Thome

Steve Thome is a fifth generation apple grower, tracing his roots back to 1846 in Alpine Township Michigan. 

 Steve took over day to day management in 1997, blessed to follow in his father Harold footsteps on a well-established progressive farm.  Over the years the farm has grown or raised fruits, vegetables, row crops, dairy, and beef cattle before focusing on Apples.

Steve spent two years after high school at Ferris State College studying Heavy Equipment Service.  Then working for a trucking company as a mechanic for two years, before returning to the farm.

Steve married his high school sweetheart Missy in 1987, and they have 2 children. The oldest Megan works as a Dental Hygienist.  Mitch is working on the farm with his Dad.  Megan is married to Mark, and they have three children, Meredith, Marleigh and Macklyn.

Steve served as President of the Michigan State Horticultural Society. He was also chairman of the Michigan Apple Research Committee. He is currently serving on the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission, Jack Brown Produce board of directors, along with chairing the Alpine Township Planning Commission.

Steve enjoys snowmobiling and touring Michigan in his 1967 Camaro, along with warm destination vacations.  He and Missy have traveled to Italy, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States with IFTA learning about the different growing regions.

The Michigan State Horticultural Society is pleased to present the 2022 Distinguished Service Award to Steve Thome.

Dr. Bill Shane

Bill Shane was born in Watervliet, a small town in southwest Michigan and spent much of his boyhood roaming the orchards and fields with his friends and family.  His father, George, co-owner of a farm supply business, helped him acquire a summer job with a newly formed Michigan State University Tree Fruit IPM project.   This led to an undergraduate degree in Botany and Plant Pathology at MSU with advisor Dr. Ed Klos and mentoring by Dr. Alan Jones.  Bill earned his masters degree in plant pathology at North Carolina State University focusing on tree fruit diseases under the direction of Dr. Turner Sutton. 

In North Carolina Bill met and married Gretchen Anderson, now deceased, and they moved to the University of Minnesota for graduate studies.  At the U of M Bill earned his PhD in plant pathology in 1985, focusing on the epidemiology of plant diseases with Drs Paul Teng and Jim Baumer. Upon graduation Bill and Gretchen took positions with Ohio State University before later moving to Michigan in 1992 where Bill accepted a job with Michigan State University.

Their two children, Janelle and Steven, are electrical engineers, due to the influence of Gretchen’s family.   Janelle specializes in nanoscale optics at Boulder Nonlinear Systems in Lafayette, Colorado, and Steven is a senior nuclear engineer at Cook Nuclear Plant near Bridgman, Michigan. 

In Michigan Bill assumed the role of the MSU District Extension Fruit Production and Marketing Agent stationed at the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center (SWMREC), Benton Harbor.  He is currently a Senior Extension Tree Fruit Specialist with both research and Extension responsibilities.  In 2016 Bill became the interim SWMREC coordinator followed by full appointment in 2018.

Bill directs the MSU peach variety improvement program and has guided the peach breeding program since assuming the role from Dr. Amy Iezzoni in 1994.   Dr. Amy Iezzoni and Bill co-released the peach variety Beaumont, with more selections soon to be named and released.

Throughout his career, Bill’s research and extension work has focused on discovering causes and solutions for disorders affecting crops.  Bill has developed predictive models for disease and fruit maturity, including a predictive disease model for Cercospora leafspot  used for over 30 years by commercial sugarbeet growers and a peach maturity model.  He has identified new insect pests and plant diseases including the first state reports of black stem borer and Asian garden beetle in Michigan tree fruit plantings.  As an Extension specialist he has worked closely with the commercial fruit industry providing help with all aspects of commercial production.  He has mentored one master and one doctoral student and numerous summer interns.  Bill was honored with the International Fruit Tree Association Extension Award in 2020.

The Michigan State Horticultural Society is pleased to present the 2022 Distinguished Service Award to Bill Shane.

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7087 East Napier Ave.
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022

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