NOGALES, Ariz. — The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas’ 50th Annual Produce Convention honored Rosie Cornelius with the Pillar of the FPAA Award Nov. 2 at the group’s Gala celebration.
Cornelius, with Nogales-based MAS Melons & Grapes, was presented with the award by Scott Vandervoet, chairman of the FPAA and with Rio Rico, Ariz.-based Vandervoet and Associates.
The Pillar of the FPAA Award is given to members of the association that have contributed greatly to the evolution and sustainability of the U.S. industry importing fresh produce from Mexico. Cornelius was honored for her commitment to the community, industry and the FPAA.
“Rosie truly is one of our industry’s most respected individuals. She is an example of dignity and diligence, as it was created by her work ethic,” Vandervoet said, noting that Cornelius began working in the industry shortly after high school. Splitting her career between Arizona and California, Cornelius never forgot her roots and eventually established herself in Nogales, he said.
She played a crucial role in organizing the convention for many years and has been responsible for the recognition that the fall industry event has received throughout North America, he said.
“Rosie began getting involved in the fall convention in the 1970s and continued to the 1980s,” he said. “At that time for the fall conventions were tended to be organized in produce warehouses, and the November date was established as the kickoff for the Nogales shipping season.”
“The memories created by this event here in its 50th anniversary or reflection of the passion and intensity of the industry and its members,” he said. “There’s much diversity in this room this evening, many personalities and a wide variety of experience, but without a doubt there is one individual that stands out as exemplary to us all.”
She thanked the association for the honor and credited several industry mentors and family members for her career spanning more than four decades.
“I have really grown up in this industry, from a young girl that was shy and whenever she made a mistake or (when) somebody would raise their voice,” she said.
“I have so much to be thankful for and blessed for all the people that have given me a hand up and I hope to reciprocate and do the same thing,” she said. “I love this industry - every one of you — and I love all those people that have helped me along the way.”
Next year’s convention is scheduled for Nov. 7-9. The FPAA will be celebrating 75 years as an association next year.