The Texas Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, ISAT, has honored David Appel, Ph.D., with its Presidential Award of Merit.
A professor and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist with the Texas A&M Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Appel specializes in forest and shade tree pathology, wine grape diseases and plant disease control.
ISAT is dedicated to continuing education for arborists, tree care research and service for tree care consumers. Appel was recognized for his service to the Texas chapter and promotion of professional arboriculture and urban forestry in Texas.
Appel has served the ISAT for over 40 years, and in his long-standing relationship with the Texas chapter, he helped establish the Texas Oak Wilt Qualification and Assessment course, TOWQ, and leads the training workshops. He also helped create and, in conjunction with the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, TPDDL, continues to implement the annual Tree Diagnosis Workshop for arborists.
Ensuring continuing education during the COVID-19 pandemic
Appel helped the ISAT meet their education and training challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and Winter Storm Uri by producing virtual trainings and webinars.
“Because of Dr. Appel’s expertise and generosity with his time, ISAT members earned continuing education units to maintain their credentials during a time when many ISA chapters couldn’t,” said Gene Gehring, education program manager for the society’s Texas chapter. “He deserves this recognition for his ongoing dedication to educating the tree care community when the rest of the world shut down.”
Appel helped ISAT serve its members with innovation and quick response, including:
— Presenting one of the Texas ISAT chapter’s first live webinars, Ask the Expert.
— Showing flexibility in scheduling and presenting the TOWQ workshops and adding a virtual option.
— When the 2020 ISAT Tree Conference went totally virtual, Appel and Sheila McBride, program specialist and diagnostician with TPDDL, presented a six-hour virtual academy over two days. They followed up the academy a few months later with another webinar, What’s Up Doc, Tree Diagnosis Quiz Review.
— When Winter Storm Uri struck Texas, Appel helped ISAT develop a webinar in five days to inform arborists around the state about what to expect. More than 140 arborists attended the live presentation and many more viewed the session on-demand.
“The ISAT is made up of the premier arborists and urban foresters in Texas, and I am grateful for their recognition of our efforts,” Appel said.
Outstanding career in research, education and leadership
Appel earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in plant pathology from West Virginia University and his doctorate in plant pathology from Virginia Tech.
Throughout his career, his research program has made Texas A&M a leading source of information on plant diseases and invasive species in Texas. He has taught plant pathology to thousands of undergraduate and graduate students and, as an AgriLife Extension specialist, has led homeowner meetings, workshops, Master Gardener trainings and county programs. His educational outreach has benefited homeowners, professional arborists, landscape specialists and Texas wine grape growers.
Appel served the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology as interim department head, associate department head for academics and associate department head and program leader for AgriLife Extension. He also served as interim department head for Forest Science, which is now the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology.
Appel was also presented the Outstanding Plant Pathologist award from the Southern Division of the American Phytopathological Society earlier this year. And he was previously recognized by the Texas Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture as the Outstanding Professional of the Year.