For Immediate Release
December 22, 2005

For More Information:
Christy Quaresma
(209) 343-3218

Almond Board of California Honors Outgoing Production Research and Environmental Director Chris Heintz

(Modesto, Calif., December 22) - The California almond industry encompassed 428,000 acres producing 507 million pounds of almonds annually when Chris Heintz began her job in 1996 as Director of Production Research at the Almond Board of California. Fast forward to 2005 with acreage nearing 600,000 acres with bin-busting production of over a billion pounds. The numbers may have changed but the challenges and the rewards of the job have not, says Heintz, who is stepping down from a full-time position at the Board as 2005 draws to a close.

“The California almond industry is an industry committed to producing the highest quality tree nut in the world, while being the greatest of environmental and land stewards,” she says. “The Board funds around 50 research projects every year with close to a $1.5 million dollar budget. This industry has constantly shown its leadership in looking for innovative solutions in orchard management, variety development, pests, diseases, irrigation, tree nutrition, pollination and environmental challenges.”

Chris Heintz, right, is presented with a Friendship Quilt by fellow Almond Board of California staff member Sue Olson, as Matt Billings, chairman of the Production Research Committee, looks on.

Heintz was honored for her contributions to the industry at the Board’s recent annual convention held in Modesto. Production Research Committee Chairman Matt Billings lauded Heintz for “her many contributions in assisting growers in their ability to increase production of almonds in an environmentally responsible manner.”

Oversight of environmental issues was added to Heintz’s portfolio in 2001 when the Board created the Environmental Committee.  During her tenure, the almond industry has become actively involved in issues related to air and water quality, crop protection, and the Endangered Species Act. The Board’s leadership in these areas has led to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency twice honoring Heintz specifically and the almond industry with its Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Champion award for exhibiting “an extraordinary level of commitment to protecting human health and the environment.” 

“Those awards mean a lot to me because they recognize the innovative leadership the almond industry has displayed in confronting some very tough environmental challenges,” says Heintz. “Almond growers live where they work and they continually show their concern for the land through their growing practices. That sincerity and dedication to community is what makes working for this industry so rewarding.”

Heintz was also presented at the conference with a Friendship Quilt sewn by fellow staff member Sue Olson, composed of panels bearing well wishes from fellow staff members. “It was a very touching gesture,” she said. “The personal relationships I have formed over the years with the staff and well as our great industry will stay with me forever” as she moves to her new home in Arizona.

“It’s the start of a new chapter in my life and one I am very much looking forward to,” says Heintz. “I think I still have a lot to offer to the almond industry – just in a different role than I have played in the past.”  She will stay involved with the Board in the near future providing strategic leadership on at least two of the most time-consuming and important topics - - bee pollination and environmental stewardship.

The Almond Board of California administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture.  Established in 1950, the Board’s charge is to promote the best quality almonds, California’s largest tree nut crop.  For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit