Cornell Cooperative Extension Hires Coordinator

Dan Sprague Jr. with a mechanical pruner at Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory. Submitted photo

Cornell Cooperative Extension Chautauqua County’s Lake Erie Regional Grape Program has hired Dan Sprague Jr. as its field coordinator.

Sprague will be responsible for creating and maintaining a research project management system for all current projects; take a lead role in directing and performing general vineyard, farm and laboratory activities to complete team research objectives; oversee building maintenance; and assist with pesticide reporting all while maintaining a safe workplace for staff and visitors as well as protecting the natural environment.

Sprague is a fourth-generation grape grower from Perrysburg, where he grew up working on a dairy and grape farm. He currently lives in Perrysburg with his wife and family and is the sole proprietor of Dan Sprague Jr. Farms, which consists of 45 acres of Welch-contracted Concord grapes.

After graduating high school in 2002, Sprague went on to get his industrial equipment technology certificate from the Manufacturing Technology Institute at Jamestown Community College. He worked 10 years in industrial maintenance at Cliffstar Corporation and then five years as the full-time daily operations manager for Dan Sprague Farms. During this time, Sprague became a partner in his father’s business — Dan Sprague Farms Custom Grape Harvesting — as well as the owner/operator of his own farm.

Sprague said he is looking forward to working with the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program and being “hands-on” and at the forefront of the new developments in technology emerging in the grape industry. His work in relation to the USDA/NIFA specialty crop research initiative “efficient vineyard” grant will include leading teams to validate sensors used in the project, as well as maintaining the vineyards as required by the study. Sprague said he is excited about working with the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program team in the variety of activities and looks forward to using his education and experience with technology to help move projects forward and to be a crucial part of the team.