After 10 years as CAPCA’s CEO/President, Terry Stark To Step Down

After 10 years as CAPCA’s CEO/President, Terry Stark To Step Down

November 21, 2014

Terry Stark’s Final Speech to CAPCA Conference Attendees

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

“They wouldn’t give me a walk-around microphone because they were afraid I would preach, so you guys lucked out," noted Terry Stark, the feisty, fun-loving professional CEO and President of the California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA), who led the organization for 10 years.

Stark spoke to CAPCA attendees during the final session of the 40th Annual CAPCA Conference and Agri-Expo in Anaheim, in October.

“And I don’t have a PowerPoint, so you're going to luck out even more,” he said.

“I am going to talk to you briefly about some of the programs going forward, and how you, as CAPCA members, can make a huge contribution. You heard California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger and the other general session speakers talk about investment, involvement and belonging; we need you to step up and do that,’ said Stark.


Tell People What You Do!

“With 3,000 PCAs in CAPCA, we’re the third largest association in the state of California, next to the Farm Bureau and Western Growers Association. Commodity boards or mandated programs; and you come to CAPCA because you want to come—because you’re volunteers—and the future will be how you mentor the future PCA generation."

"How do you do that?" he continued. "You heard two of our speakers say, 'tell somebody what you do, why you do it, and why you love to do it,'" noted Stark.

“The CAPCA Board was very generous in moving $100,000 dollars three months ago to the Stanley W. Stew Education Fund, Inc. to start the first CAPCA Leadership Institute. We have staff that has been challenged to find champions to go out and raise funds; I don’t care if it is one dollar or one million dollars, to develop a leadership program.

“I love this place. The CAPCA Leadership Institute will inspire plant science students to get their PCA license. And how we’re going do that is that? We’re going to have to our chapters, to our members, and when they talk to anyone with a dollar in their pocket, to make the contribution to the Stanley W.  Stew Foundation; its a [501(C)(3)] corporation, its a tax write-off. And Steve Bickley (CAPCA Board NorCal) and I have the project management to develop the protocols on how we’re going to run this,” noted Stark.

“Well, I’m not stupid; we have Shannon Douglas, our coordinator to our Pathway to PCA program, to help out. In fact, we have two dozen-plus PCAs in the room who attended the Leadership Foundation programs up and down the state. We’re going to take that knowledge from the young farmers and ranchers and from the Farm Bureau, we'll take that Ag leadership, and we’ll make a program in which at least one dozen PCAs on an annual business basis will learn how to conduct themselves around legislators, supervisors, and school boards. In other words, how do you tell someone that you are important?” Stark said.


How to Fix Stupid?

Stark noted that his board is asking a critical question of the candidates for my job, “Can you fix stupid? What I mean by that is when I sit down and talk to PCAs, it’s clear who the smartest person in the room is, and it’s not me,” Stark said.

“So, if you get tapped to be a champion to raise money for the CAPCA Leadership Institute, if you say “no,” I will come back from Texas and hound you until you get your wallet out. I truly believe that that’s going to be the program of the future, it will allow us to reinvest in the `Pathway to PCA’ program.

“When the program headed up by Shannon Douglas was to sunset three years ago, our Ag retailers and basic manufacturers stepped up and funded $300,000 to continue the work. And through those efforts, we have about a 50 PCA license-gain over where we were five years ago. It’s an important program so that we make sure young professionals get that crop protection and crop science education to have a career that can go from 35-40 years. It’s very important,” Stark said.

“When I got on the Board of Directors, I was the oldest guy on the Board. You’ve been in business for 40 years and you’ve done certain things the same way for 30 years, and my job was to help point that ship in a direction where you could have another 40 years. And one of the accomplishments, again, is the generations have changed and we’ve got a younger board of directors now. We have the enthusiasm of a younger board now, and through the leadership of Gary Silveria (CAPCA Vision Planning Committee Chairman), we have crop teams on the table now.

“Ok, you’ve heard crop teams talked about by Jeremy Brisco (CAPCA Executive Committee Chairman) yesterday. Not everyone can leave the field, leave their office, drive to Sacramento, sit in a room for an hour and a half, and drive back to San Diego or Desert Valley or up to Chico. So, how do we get our intellectual knowledge moved forward and yet still be recognized by who you are and why you do what you do?” said Stark.

“We’ll start with 8 areas of crop teams, but the ideal is we’re inclusive. We’re going to use Skype and Go to Meeting technology, and you don’t have to drive five hours to get there. This is the educational gap change that the younger guys and women can do so much better than us older guys,” Stark noted.


The Right Champions in Place

“But we recognized that gap, pre-drought, when we had the legislative bore, and there was no money in the budgets, no taxes. You know the University of California is going through the same attrition, and all of a sudden, counties couldn’t send their Ag Commissioners to meetings and Extension people couldn’t travel, or we couldn’t replace their expertise,” Stark noted. "We’ve got 3,000 experts. You will travel, you will provide the leadership and you will succeed. My goal in making this happen for the board of directors is that we have the right people in place. Gary Silveria has put the right champions in place on these crop teams, so if you get asked, `do you want to help with almonds, or do you want to help with strawberries,’ the answer is `Yes, I want to help!’”
“And I guarantee you we will be—CAPCA will be—in 3-5 years—the go-to expert at any of those crop protection incidents that will occur. And you will be standing side-by-side with UC Agricultural and Natural Resources Extension people and the commodity board research folks in fighting the problems. That’s what you will accomplish. That is innovative! I know some of my chapters are going to say, `what are the chapters going to do?’ and I’ll say this, `you have a purpose!’”

“Find that purpose. I’m not going to tell you what your purpose is…. you find your purpose. And you make the crop teams successful. And you make the Pathway to PCA successful. It’s all about being positive; one of our speakers said, `don’t say anything you can’t do.’ Hell, I’ve never said I can’t do anything, said Stark.

Why New CAPCA Categories?

“And many of you of you heard from Jeremy Brisco. Why is CAPCA looking at new categories? Why do you want to have a Soil and Plant Health category? Are you crazy? More regulations? It's stewardship, and it's doing the right thing. I write in the magazine every two months for you. Your whole life is about doing the right thing. And the right thing is you want to be equal or better than what any Water Control Board can throw your way,” Stark.

“And how do you we get you there as CAPCA? We get you there by being able to expand what DPR will allow you to tend at your CE seminars for plant health and nutrition. So, you can then actually spend time learning from experts about how to mitigate any problem you might have with drinking water,” he noted.

“We’ll probably have to pull on the California Department of Food and Agriculture to get them there. And CDFA Secretary Karen Ross may be happy that I’m leaving and I am giving it to you as a gift, you never know,” Stark said with a laugh.

Nutrition Expertise

Stark noted the new category that the board wants to put into place will be a very broad soil and plant health category. He said that this would allow PCAs to address, if required, any new regulations that come out, and to function accordingly. “We have had many board decisions, discussions, and push-back and hee-hawing, but the bottom line is we truly believe in the years to come, fertilizer will face regulatory pressure. That may or may not include labeling, that may or may not include use reporting,” noted Stark.

“I mean, we’ve seen it on the organic side. The organic folks wanted what’s in their bag of tricks to be protected. We need to anticipate that a more liberal legislative body in Sacramento will move in that direction—to protect drinking water. We are going to have new rules, and the rules will come from Food and Agriculture. And DPR will stand up and say, “who is going to pay for the rules? Right or wrong, we’ll probably have some assessments put on fertilizer to raise some general funds,” he noted.

Stark noted that Ag Commissioners at this time have no skin in the game, "If there are bumps; they’re not going to do anything. Crop advisors are a 'credential'. No California agency can tell a crop advisor to do anything in the world. CAPCA has 1,000 PCAs that are Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs). The day is coming when nutrient expertise will be a valuable tool in your tool chest as a PCA. We’re trying to position you so that will fall into place. Four years from now, if they pass regulations and we have not started the regulatory process for a category, you’ll be catching-up from behind. So we’re trying to keep it in a balance going forward because we just don’t know,” he said. 

“You never know what will happen in the legislature in Sacramento. We could introduce this bill in January and have it passed by October 2015. I don’t think that will happen because there’s not a need for the category to occur. Normally it’s a two-year process and then it happens. Like I said, it’s not a bad prospect to put on the books; it positions you at CAPCA as being part of the solution instead of running from the issue that you don’t want to fix: cleaning drinking water,” Stark said.

Stark explained that CAPCA manages the CCA program. He said he wants these valuable CCAs to flourish and grow and add to the value.

“If you are a PCA, we would ask that the nutrient expertise of a crop advisor to be grandfathered into your category. And you wouldn’t have to do a test that DPR puts together,” he said.

“And what happens after the grandfather period goes away? No new PCA can test for the category without a CCA credential. This takes care of the questions—the cost of DPR; it protects the CCA side of the house; and, of course, this will occur only if the regulations come to pass.

If they don’t, CCAs will still be CCAs. What we don’t want to happen is a regulatory scheme coming out of the Water Boards, like the one on the Central Coast, or out of the legislature, that will mandate use-reporting and you don’t have nutrient expertise," Stark explained. “You don’t have protections regarding your Environmental Impact Reports, and all of a sudden, your employer has some liabilities,” he said.

“So people ask… why is CAPCA doing this? Because it’s the right thing for the right purpose, and we all want clean drinking water. So, we have a lot of momentum; the Board of Directors has a lot of momentum,” he said.

So Why Am I leaving?

“Well, first of all, this is the first time I haven’t been fired in 10 years!

Stark said that when he was hired, he said he wanted to work for 10 years and April 2015 is the 10th year.

“It’s really not a bad time to leave,” said Stark. “For those of you who didn’t know about my previous career in California, I had a little stint at Western Growers; I was their vice president of government relations. The chairman of the Board asked me to help get the past chairman nominated by President Reagan to the USDA; his name was John Martin, he was a very large grower. John Martin became Deputy Secretary, and I served for a short time as his chief of staff. When it was announced that he would become Secretary of Agriculture, he asked for a few things from the White House, and they said 'no'. Martin said goodbye, and he moved back to Phoenix, Arizona, and I came to California."

“I later worked in citrus, and I actually ran the Citrus Marketing Order for the states of California and Arizona. Because of citrus prorate, this was a tumultuous time. If you know anything about citrus prorate, you know it was like an open wound. One morning I woke up and learned that USDA Secretary Mike Espy had shut down the marketing orders for all citrus—all on a moment’s notice. I laid off 67 people, closed 4 offices and moved on,” noted Stark.

“I found my happy life as soon as I moved to Fresno, and I went to work for the California Raisin Marketing Board. And if you do not know what oversupply of raisins is with 6,000 raisin growers with a diverse ethic backgrounds. I had 92 directors on my federal board and 32 members on my state board, and we met twice a week, for seven years,” Stark said.

Stark said that he would never work for another mandated program, anywhere. "Then an opportunity came with organization called CAPCA. I had no clue what opportunities and like-minded professionals could bring to the table because CAPCA was kind of…off the shelf. You were doing your jobs, but kind of hiding from the battle. The search committee was pretty easy on me. They hired me, and I guess it worked out for you,” Stark noted.

“The big unknown value that you have is your CAPCA chair leadership. There has been great chair leadership, and maybe they should have spited me once or twice, but they never spited me once,” he said.

“I teamed up with Steve Beckley, and we became good friends. We’ve had a great run bringing the membership cascading seminars where people know who you are, what you do, and why you do it,” noted Stark. “We have dabbled in the nutrient management side of the world—that was unintentional—but right or wrong or indifferent, you do work in that realm. We’ve had great success in and outreach to the nutrient management side of the world. I believe that CAPCA ED will provide you with the exposure and leadership for another 40 years,” he said.

In closing, Stark reached out to his invaluable staff, focusing first on his Marketing and Financing Director, Dee Strowbridge. “She has been so great in moving the CAPCA Conference to the level that it is today,” he said.

Joyce Basan, CAPCA Communications Director has move the CAPCA Adviser magazine to world class status. You all should be very proud of the magazine,” noted Stark.

“My other staff includes Ruthann Dietrich, Ariana Zamora, Lien Banh and Charlotte Carson. All of them have a culture of dedication to serve the CAPCA membership.

“It has been a good ride, and I tell my board that I have the right leadership in place, the right volunteers to go forward, and I think you will see another successful 40 years. I truly do,” he said.