Farm Intern Erin Hitchner

Hitchner_Erin_IR4_AwardToday, Erin is a Research and Development Field Scientist with Syngenta Crop Protection. How did she find her way to this career?

Though raised on a vegetable farm near Elmer, NJ, Erin knew little about field research when she came to our 305-acre Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center farm (RAREC). She was formerly introduced to field production and research methods while working as a field assistant in the IR-4 Project over the course of three summers. The national IR-4 Project headquartered at Rutgers, facilitates registration of sustainable pest management technology for use on minor and specialty crops. She comments, “I guess the experience ‘stuck’ because I’ve been doing it ever since!”

Erin planted and harvested “everything” – peaches, pumpkins, and garlic, just to name a few. While interning for the minor crop protection program, she learned the difference between plum curculio and stinkbug damage, brown rot and bacterial spot. She eventually became the full time minor crop protection program Field Researcher.

Her experiences on the Research and Extension farm revealed a passion for entomology and lead to a fully funded assistantship to pursue her Ph.D. While in graduate school, the knowledge of applied research and general entomology that she acquired while working at RAREC allowed her to excel both academically and in her field research.

Erin still uses the basic building blocks she learned at RAREC in her field trials as an agricultural Field Research and Development Scientist for Syngenta Crop Protection, part of Syngenta AG, an admired global $10 billion agricultural sciences corporation. Most importantly, the work relationships she developed with the entire RAREC staff over the years taught her the value of positive communication and interpersonal skills. “To be honest, I wouldn’t be where I am today without my RAREC experience.”

Erin still visits our farm regularly, and brings some of her field research projects to Rutgers each year.

Field Of Study: Ph. D. Entomology

Hometown: Elmer, NJ

Intern Experience: Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Position After Graduation: Syngenta Crop Protection – Research & Development Scientist