WSU professor wins award for distinction in Extension

On learning that she had won the 2020 Extension Distinction Award from ASEV—the American Society for Enology & Viticulture—WSU associate  professor and Extension specialist, Michelle Moyer was shocked.

Studio headshot of WSU professor, Michelle Moyer.
WSU professor Michelle Moyer wins prestigious award for work in Extension.

“I almost didn’t accept it,” she said. “I thought it should go to someone else. When you look at the list of those who have won this award, it is very humbling.”

The nomination process for the award is completely anonymous.

Awarded by the nation’s preeminent viticulture and enology organization, the Extension Distinction Award is based on an individual’s advancement of the field of viticulture or enology in one of two ways.

According to ASEV’s guidelines, the recipient must have made outstanding contributions of “information in enology or viticulture through his or her extension program” or “the translation of novel research findings into commercially applicable tools for enologists or viticulturists.”

That Moyer has made substantial contributions to the field of viticulture is without question. A professor at WSU since 2011, she has played a vital role in Extension with statewide responsibilities, helping transfer the latest research into the hands of Washington’s growers and the viticulture industry at large. In this capacity, she has developed workshops, educational programs, and taught classes in WSU’s V&E Certificate Program.

And as Project Director of FRAME Network (Fungicide Resistance Assessment Mitigation and Extension), Moyer won a $4.7 million grant for her ongoing work on powdery mildew.

As recipient of the 2020 Extension Distinction Award, Moyer will speak at the ASEV annual conference in June where she will present her talk, “Land Grants and Grapes: Traditional Approaches for Modern Extension Programs.”

“Essentially, I will be talking about how to use modern tools to deliver a more traditional style content,” Moyer said.

Her approach harkens back to our land grant mission.

“We’ve a learned a lot over 150 years,” Moyer added. “So, we tend to think of moving forward, but we don’t often look back.”

Moyer also contends that if we’ve learned a lot about agriculture in the last 150 years, we may have forgotten some too.

“Not everyone in the industry has the same baseline of knowledge,” she pointed out. “We have to remember that industry has new people joining all the time.”

Given this kind of evolving change, Moyer said it’s important to go back to the foundation upon which this baseline of knowledge was built, and check it once in a while.

“You can’t put up walls if you don’t have a solid foundation, and that’s my key message: we need to keep checking our foundation. Even those who have been in the industry for a long time—it’s good for them to check back occasionally, too.”

In her June talk at the ASEV conference, Moyer will address both the old and the new.

“The older generation teases the new generation for not having the knowledge, and the newer generation teases the older one for not having the latest tools. What I want to do is bring those conversations together.”