Janice Whitaker Honored with 2009 Mrs. Peach Award

Randall Weiseman Field Crops, Georgia, Specialty Crops, Vegetables

Janice Whitaker is a true Georgia peach.
Jeff Wainwright, (left) of the GA Peach Council and Larry Yonce (right) representing the SC Peach Council present Janice Whitaker (center) with the 2009 Mrs. Peach Award
In 1986 she began her career working in the peach industry as a corporate secretary for Evans Farms in Fort Valley, GA. Twenty-three years later the industry that she has served so well was able to honor her with the first ever 2009 Mrs. Peach Award. The award, presently known as the Mr. Peach Award, was presented by the South Carolina Peach Council at the 2009 SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah, GA.

“We were so excited to present Janice with the 2009 Mrs. Peach Award,” said Larry Yonce, President of the South Carolina Peach Council. “This is the first year we have honored a woman. Janice was such an obvious choice to be the 2009 recipient it took very little deciding to change the Mr. to Mrs. She has embodied the true spirit of this award through the years.”

After leaving Evans Farms in 1993, Whitaker became an administrative assistant for Dr. Butch Feree, a Georgia Horticultural Peach Specialist in Fort Valley. In this position she coordinated the Southeastern Peach Convention and saw its partnership with the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association to co-sponsor the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference.

According to Charles Hall, Executive Director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, “Working with Janice over the years has been great. She brings a lot to the table and has done much to make the conference better each year. I cannot think of a person more deserving of this award.”

In 1998 Whitaker moved to Byron, GA as administrative assistant for UGA where she also cooperated with USDA lab to handle certain duties there. In this new position she transmitted weather data, maintained GAPEACH website and coordinated the “Fruits of Georgia” exhibit at the Georgia National Fair.

Whitaker began coordinating all Georgia Peach Council activities in 2001 as well as the Southeastern Peach Convention for Georgia and South Carolina Peach Councils. As the Executive Director of the Georgia Peach Council she handled all administrative duties, coordinated meetings and election of officers, handled research proposal requests and crop estimation report.

In 2007 Whitaker was diagnosed with cancer which she is fighting and plans to overcome. She has been slowly handing her duties off to others in the peach industry. However, even through times of treatment she has been the force that keeps the Georgia Peach Council on track.

Yes, Janice Whitaker is a true peach indeed.

For more information, please contact Frank Funderburk, Georgia Peach Council, phone 478-825-6466 or e-mail jff@uga.edu.