The Rubber Chicken Award

An enduring tradition of informality is the nomination, voting, and awarding of the Rubber Chicken to one of the presenter during the closing business meeting. The Rubber Chicken may be awarded for a variety of reasons, but egregious behavior in some aspect of presenting a scientific talk is the underlying theme: too long, too short, poor organization, illegible slides, and over-spinning research results are frequently cited.deluxe_rubber_chicken

Notables who have received the award include:

  • Clancy Davis, Berkeley, California for his quiet, sober, professional demeanor on all occasions.
  • Stan Hoyt, Wenatchee, Washington for failing to enliven methods of presentation of papers.
  • Don Berry, Medford, Oregon for never having made a single comment over 20 years.
  • Pete Westigard, Medford, Oregon for returning from a sabbatical with 400 color slides (all failures) and a new child (a success).

Winners’ in the Modern Era (following about a 15 year hiatus, the award was revived during the 75th anniversary meeting):

  • Rachel Elkins (2001), University of California, Clear Lake, for using an overhead projector in a digital age.
  • Jay Brunner (2002), Washington State University, Wenatchee, for giving one of the looooongest talks in the history of the WOPDMC (Seriously. His 10-minute talk was an hour).
  • Doug Light (2003), USDA, Albany, California, for showing incomprehensible data slides again and again and again. (Chemists….)
  • Stephen Welter (2004), University of California, Berkeley, for inappropriate behavior by leaving the meeting prior to giving his presentation.
  • Bob Van Steenwyk (2005), University of California, Berkeley, Bob suffered at the hands of technology and he could have been forgiven for these technical glitches; however the membership was in a surly mood after the prolonged business meeting. Bob graciously accepted the award.
  • Alan Knight (2006), USDA-ARS, Wapato, Washington, for not submitting a talk.
  • Andy Kahn (2007), Wenatchee, Washington, for giving a much too long presentation and refusing to yield the podium – Andy subsequently decapitated our alopeciate friend.
  • Jim Miller (2008), Michigan State University, for attempting to coerce the entire membership into his cult of the pheromone, and for admitting to having intimate relations with codling moths; Jim was responsible for the demise of yet another unfeathered friend.
  • Peter Shearer (2009), Oregon State University, Hood River, for forgetting, like Dorothy, that he was not in Rutgers anymore (For those of you not present, he gave his talk as the new director of the Hood River Station MACAREC, using the Rutgers template).
  • Harvey Reissig (2010), Cornell University, Geneva, New York, for his presentation that introduced a new web-based IPM decision support system for NY apple growers that was actually a chemical spray calendar disguised as an IPM program (well played, Harvey, well played…).
  • John Dunley (2011), Wilbur-Ellis, Cashmere, Washington, for not being present each morning to turn on the lights, the projector, and the laptop computer before the meeting began. He also assumed that at least one of the many well-educated members of the Conference (ahem, Broc Zoller), most of whom were lugging their own laptops, would be able to find the correct button to turn on the conference laptop, and that labels on the two (!) cords would make the connections between the laptop and projector clear. He was proven to be incorrect.
  • Larry Gut (2012), Michigan State University, for now conducting research on pheromone puffers (and finding them effective) after ‘pooh-poohing’ them for many years.
  • Don Thomson (2013), DJS Consulting Services, for delivering the keynote speaker’s address in his introduction of Camille before she had a chance to deliver her own presentation. Also, Don temporarily lost the rubber chicken in the foyer, but he did later recover it.
  • Doug Light (2014), USDA ARS, Albany, California, for blatantly promoting his own product during his presentation.
  • Brad Higbee (2015), Paramount Farms, CA, for delivering an extended talk under false pretenses, breaking the new OPDMC computer, and bragging about his 40 acre research plots.
  • Betsy Beers (2016), Washington State University, Wenatchee, for the incompatibility of the slideshows presented by herself and her students despite the fact that she keeps the meeting computer.
  • Lisa Neven (2017), USDA-ARS, Wapato, Washington, for submitting her talk late, two times, and including incorrect information on Okanagan Co. in her presentation.
  • Lucia Varela (2018), University of California Cooperative Extension, Santa Rosa and Napa, for claiming that she had not seen the slides prior to the presentation; however, she was second author on the presentation; for making personal statements without supporting data; for claiming to have visited every backyard in Chile to see that all had grapevines; and she requested to the audience – “shoot me”.