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Presidents of the International Palm Society


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1956-1957 Dent Smith, Florida

1957-1960 Dr. Walter Hodge, Florida

1960-1962 Eugene Kitzke, Florida

1962-1964 David Barry Jr., California

1964-1966 Nat J. DeLeon, Florida

1966-1968 Otto Martens, California

1968-1970 Dr. Jerome P. Keuper, Florida

1970-1972 Dr. John Popenoe, Florida

1972-1974 Kenneth (Ken) C. Foster, California

1974-1976 Dr. U.A. Young, Florida

1976-1978 Myron Kimnach, California

1978-1980 Donn Carlsmith, Hawaii

1980-1982 Paul A. Drummond, Florida

1982-1984 Richard Douglas, California

1984-1986 Allan Bredeson, California

1986-1988 Edward McGehee

1988-1992 Jules Gervais, Florida

1992-1996 Jim Cain, Texas

1996-2000 Phil Bergman, California

2000-2004 Horace Hobbs, Texas

2004-2008 Paul Craft, Florida

2008-2012 Bo-Göran Lundkvist, Hawaii

2012-2014 Leland Lai, California

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Leilani Estates, 25 mls/40 km south of Hilo, Big Island of Hawai'i. Elevation 880 ft/270 m. Average rainfall 140 inches/3550 mm


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  • 8 years later...
17 hours ago, NorCalWill said:

There hasn't been a president since 2014?

Ray Hernandez ( @SubTropicRay ) is the current president. 

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Lakeland, FL

USDA Zone (2012): 9b | Sunset Zone: 26 | Record Low: 20F/-6.67C (1985, 1962) | Record Low USDA Zone: 9a | 30-Year Avg. Low: 30F | 30-year Min: 24F

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Here is the current slate of IPS Officers:

OFFICE                                                                  DIRECTOR                            TERM

PRESIDENT:                                                  Robert Blenker                 2020-2024

VICE-PRESIDENT:                                         Jeff Brusseau                     2020-2024

VICE-PRESIDENT:                                         David Tanswell                  2018-2022

CORRESPONDING SECRETARY:                  Ray Hernandez                 2018-2022

ADMINISTRATIVE SECRETARY:                   Larry Noblick                      2020-2024


TREASURER:                                                  Tom Jackson                      2020-2024

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Maybe things have changed? It used to be 2-year terms, with the ability to serve 2 consecutive terms.

Kim Cyr

Between the beach and the bays, Point Loma, San Diego, California USA
and on a 300 year-old lava flow, Pahoa, Hawaii, 1/4 mile from the 2018 flow
All characters  in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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  • 7 months later...

Here is an updated list of IPS Presidents:

1956–1957 Dent Smith, Florida

1957–1960 Dr. Walter Hodge, Florida

1960–1962 Eugene Kitzke, Wisconsin

1962–1964 David Barry Jr., California

1964–1966 Nat J. DeLeon, Florida

1966–1968 Otto Martens, California

1968–1970 Dr. Jerome P. Keuper, Florida

1970–1972 Dr. John Popenoe, Florida

1972–1974 Kenneth Foster, California

1974–1976 Dr. U. A. Young, Florida

1976–1978 Myron Kimnach, California

1978– 1980 Don Carlsmith, Hawaii

1980–1982 Paul Drummond, Florida

1982–1984 Richard Douglas, California

1984–1986 Allan Bredeson, California

1986–1988 Edward McGehee, Florida

1988–1992 Jules Gervais, Hawaii

1992–1996 Jim Cain, Texas

1996–2000 Phil Bergman, California

2000–2004 Horace Hobbs, Texas

2004–2008 Paul Craft, Florida

2008–2012 Bo-Göran Lundkvist, Hawaii

2012–2016 Leland Lai, California

2016–2021 Ray Hernandez, Florida

2021-2025 Robert Blenker, Florida

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And an interview with our newest President Robert Blenker

Congratulations Robert, let’s start with the obvious question, why palms?

Palms occur in many of the world's most threatened ecosystems.  They are a "charismatic indicator species" around which entire habitats evolve.  Just as the magnificent tiger or elephant represent their environments, so do the Tahina of Madagascar, the Sabinaria of the Darién or the Ceroxylon of the northern Andes.  To conserve them, you must conserve their habitats and in so doing, you secure the future for a myriad of other species that also depend on those habitats such as various species of lemurs or the spectacled bear.  Stately or unique palms put a face on what to some might otherwise be obscure walls of green.  Furthermore, the conservation of palms help to preserve diverse societies, given their cultural and economic significance of products derived from palms.

What goals do you hope to accomplish during her tenure as our president?

My agenda for this term is perhaps too broad.  However, as the world's premier and largest palm society, I would like to focus the IPS on a few key issues:
1. Growing the endowment to further conservation and research.  The grants we make each year are crucial for driving seminal and original research into a broad range cutting-edge topics. Our grants enable grantees to conduct critical field work, to acquire advanced genetic testing and perform other lab-based analysis that advance our understanding of palms, their genetics, their phylogeny and their dispersal throughout the world.
2. Strengthening ties to affiliates around the world:  An organization like the International Palm Society is only as good as its members.  We seek to strengthen and, in some cases, re-establish close and meaningful ties with our affiliate organizations.  To do this, we are focused on direct outreach, as well as enhanced content of IPS services and materials that will create value and promote learning throughout the palm community.  We hope to continue the webinar series which was very popular during lockdowns, as well as enhance PalmTalk, access to online resources and provide affiliates to share their stories to a broader audience.
3.  Streamlining the Biennial Process:  As perhaps one of the most valuable assets of the IPS, we hope to streamline the biennial process, ensuring an uninterrupted series of once-in-a-lifetime events, while at the same time, expanding our mid-term meetings to make them more inclusive.
4. Advancing the Conservation Agenda:  Specifically, our Save the Species campaign has targeted the Sabinaria magnifica in the Darien region of Colombia.  The IPS is working to mobilize sufficient resources to ensure an area large enough to protect a genetically viable population of Sabinaria is preserved in perpetuity in habitat.  I encourage all to visit www.palms.org to learn more about this important conservation initiative.

Please tell us  your favorite biennial  memory.

Perhaps my favorite biennial was the Singapore/Sarawak/Borneo biennial.  It was truly a phenomenal experience as much for the environment and culture as for the company. Led by some of our members with decades of experience in the region, we were able to enjoy an intimate visit to some of the most unique and threatened habitats in the world. Changes in the environment as witnessed over the span of 40 years or more became real as our hosts shared histories of individual palms.   Local conservationists were able to share their challenges in protecting habitat, and we left with a feeling of hope for on-going conservation efforts and some tangible ways in which to assist.

I find that the biennials are one of the most compelling reasons to be a member of IPS.  During a biennial I am able to spend quality field time with a vast array of members - from some of the world's foremost palm experts from KEW, Montgomery and Fairchild Gardens, to members who have spent their lives cultivating and commercializing palms to people like me who are simply enthusiastic about this magnificent genre.  The richness of experience demonstrated by our members is humbling.

And now for the most dreaded question of them all, please name your favorite palm (and don’t use the “I can’t pick my favorite child excuse”). 

I have two.  Firstly, the palms in my collection all have some significance.  They have either been cultivated from seed I have collected on trips or represent palms I have seen or interacted with on trips where collection was not permitted.  So, my two favorites are the GruGru (Acrocomia aculeata) and the Thatch Palm (Attalea cohune).   My relationship with the Grugru is somewhat one of love/hate.  I enjoyed the fruit while traveling and working in the Caribbean.  And the seed comes from the sustainable agriculture farm of a friend.  So, every time I look at the palm I am transported to the hills of Grenada.  However, if you know the Acrocomia, you are familiar with its wicked thorns that sometimes impale birds or the odd unwary squirrel.  Its thorns, running the entire length of the trunk, as well as along the rakis, are not to be trifled with.

My second favorite palm is the Attalea cohune, or as they called it in Guanacaste, the "Palma de techo" as it was the preferred palm from whose fronds most roofs were thatched.  And, it is the palm often used to make "coyol" - the sometimes viscous fermented palm wine popular during the dry months.  I lived several years below a roof thatched with Attalea fronds.  And I spent many hours on porches, or in a rocker under the shade of a mango tree enjoying coyol with friends and neighbors.  It brings back fond memories of time in Central and South America.

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Very nice goals and agenda to put into motion for the improvement of the IPS.

Looking forward to my first biennial in Hawaii and getting to meet the people of the IPS!

Thank you for sharing.


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