Hard work, passionate, dedicated, innovative and resilient. Glenn Hirakata said those words come to mind when people think of the 2016 Ag Award winner - Mike Bartolo. Bartolo received the honor Monday during the La Junta Chamber of Commerce annual banquet.

Hard work, passionate, dedicated, innovative and resilient.

Glenn Hirakata said those words come to mind when people think of the 2016 Ag Award winner - Mike Bartolo. Bartolo received the honor Monday during the La Junta Chamber of Commerce annual banquet. The award is sponsored by the chamber and the Ag Journal.

For the past 25 years Mike has been the vegetable crop specialist and since 2004 the manager of the CSU Arkansas Valley Research Center, Hirakata said, adding that since 1888, it is Colorado's oldest continuously operated agriculture experiment station outside of Fort Collins.

Bartolo was born and raised on a farm east of Pueblo. After graduating from Pueblo County High School, he attended Colorado State University where he received his undergraduate degree in bio ag science and master’s degree in horticulture. From there, he went on to the University of Minnesota where he received his doctorate in plant physiology in 1990.

Just a few of his many contributions to the ag industry are his extensive breeding and development of various chile varieties which include the Mosco Chile and the Pueblo Popper.

“Also, he is known for his innovative techniques working with drip irrigation, plastic mulches, soil fertility and pest management,” Hirakata said.

Bartolo was also instrumental in the formation of the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and the Rocky Ford Growers Association. Both groups used his technical expertise.

Bartolo said he appreciates the honor. He thanked the community and said there are many people who work behind the scenes to help maintain the local agriculture industry. He also thanked the farming families, including the Hirakatas, who “are absolutely brilliant farmers” and have taught the community about being resilient.