Dr. Helmuth Rogg (pictured) has been appointed the new director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture Plant Program Area. He replaces Dan Hilburn, who will retire at the end of October.
Rogg has served as the manager of the ODA’s Insect Pest Prevention and Management Program since 2008, and was an entomologist with ODA for three years prior to that. He holds a doctorate in entomology and biocontrol from the University of Giessen in Germany, and a master of science from the University of Regensburg, also in Germany.
Rogg indicated he would spend some time learning the issues and getting to know people involved with ODA as well as the nursery industry. “I have some big boots to fill that Dan is leaving behind,” he said. “I want to work really closely with our nursery industry and help show people the value of our programs. We want to hear from the industry, as well, what we can do to be of greater service.”
Hilburn has served as Plant Division administrator since 1995. Prior to that he served as an ODA staff entomologist for five years. “I didn’t know anything about the nursery industry when I started, and it’s been a great education,” he said.
During his 19 years in the position, he gained nursery knowledge, as well as a strong respect for the nursery industry. “I think we’ve made it a good balance between our enforcement role and our assisting role,” Hilburn said. “The nursery industry has been a great partner.”
Growers, the OAN and the ODA Plant Division have all worked together to address pest and disease issues, so that Oregon-grown plant material remains clean and suitable for the market. “People continue to look to Oregon for high-quality nursery stock,” Hilburn said, “and that’s what we want.”
OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone said that Hilburn has provided key leadership on the issue of plant pests and diseases. “He has been a tremendous partner and advocate for Oregon’s program to ship clean quality plants to domestic and international markets,” Stone said.
Dr. Prakash Hebbar agreed. Hebbar is the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s national policy manager for Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes sudden oak death. He credited Hilburn with a key role in pushing for a systems approach to plant health, rather than the more traditional endpoint inspections, which cost more and are less effective. “The leadership role Dan Hilburn played was instrumental in building confidence among the stakeholders on the regulatory program implementation in Oregon and spreading the crucial message of the importance of systems approaches for managing pests and diseases,” Hebbar said. “He has set a very high bar indeed.”
But one that Rogg, as Hilburn’s successor, hopes to be able to match.
“The challenges that we are facing are huge, and we can’t solve them alone,” Rogg said.