Extension Agent Karen Blaedow Receives Achievement Award

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Extension Agent Karen Blaedow

Featured Left to Right (Dr. Rich Bonanno-NC State Extension, Karen Blaedow, Dr. Mark Blevins-NC A&T Extension)

N.C. Cooperative Extension of Henderson County Agent Karen Blaedow was recently recognized with an Achievement Award by the North Carolina Association of County Agricultural Agents. Karen has been employed by N.C. Cooperative Extension of Henderson County for almost five years and is the Commercial Vegetable and Small Fruits Agent for the county.

Karen was recognized for the technical assistance she provides local growers in the areas of diagnostics, variety trials, integrated pest management, pesticide safety, and food safety. She serves as a board member of three grower associations: NC Tomato, NC Blackberry and Raspberry, North American Raspberry and Blackberry. Within extension, she serves as co-chair of NC Fruit Extension Team and Executive Committee member of WNC AgOptions. Annually she helps organize four large fruit and vegetable grower education conferences: two state-wide, one regional, and one national. These four events alone impact hundreds of farmers.

In 2020, Karen formed the Henderson County Farmers Market Coalition with market managers, health department leaders, and community non-profits to build a core group dedicated to promoting and improving equal access to locally grown and produced food. Under Karen’s leadership, the group has educated all the markets on food safety requirements, increased SNAP sales by 50%, and assisted with the opening of two new markets in the county, one of which is located in a USDA-identified food desert.

Other initiatives that Mrs. Blaedow was recognized for include her work with county-based research trials that help address timely issues impacting plant diseases, labor, and sustainable crop production in tomatoes, wine grapes, and caneberries, all major crops in her county. Karen is a team player locally as well as state-wide and has either led independent research or collaborated with NCSU Specialists on eight different projects since her arrival in Henderson County. In talking with growers, co-workers, or community members that work with Karen, all have a deep respect for her, feel supported by her, and enjoy working with her.

Congratulations to Karen for her achievement award recognition and accomplishments.