Homegrown talent uses GIS to help grape growers
Rhiann Jakubowski, Class of 2012
Environmental Sciences major
Rhiann Jakubowski, a native of western New York, took only three years to graduate
Summa Cum Laude from SUNY Fredonia in 2012 with a degree in Environmental Sciences
and a minor in GIS. While a student at SUNY Fredonia, Jakubowski completed an internship
with the Cornell’s Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory (CLEREL) in Portland, New York. As an intern, Jakubowski used aerial orthoimagery
to map Lake Erie vineyards in New York and Pennsylvania.
The grape industry on the Erie Lake Plain is a significant part of western New York's
heritage. With approximately 30,000 acres of vineyards on 840 farms, the Lake Erie region is the largest grape
growing region outside California. The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program at CLEREL
is dedicated to supporting local grape farmers. Jakubowski stayed on at CLEREL following
graudation as a full-time Program Assistant focusing on GIS to support the Program's
efforts. Currently, she provides National Grape Cooperative members with maps of their acreage. A sample of one of her maps is shown on the right.
In addition to acreage, she also provides growers with elevation and soils data so
they can better manage spray and fertilizer application. Additionally, her efforts
incorporate the work of researcher Dr. James Taylor on using high resolution canopy sensors to collect data on leaf vigor.
Jakubowski found the GIS minor to be a good choice because it gave her an advantage
in the work force. All she had to say was, “I have experience with GIS,” and the job
was hers. Of course, her outstanding work as an intern had something to do with her
being asked to continue with CLEREL in a full-time capacity! Jakubowski has found
that the addition of GIS to her résumé helped her stand out from the many other applicants.
Jakubowski's work has proved invaluable to local farmers, and her trouble-shooting
skills, ability to locate data, and strong work ethic have shown her to be a valuable
asset to the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program.