Thursday, February 23, 2017

Get to Know Willet Hossfeld, New ESA Certification Programs Manager

In mid-February, the Entomological Society of America welcomed its newest staff member, Willet Hossfeld, certifications program manager. Willet will play a lead role in the facilitation and growth of the ESA Board Certified Entomologist and Associate Certified Entomologist programs, so he’s a person that current and future BCEs and ACEs should get to know. Learn more about Willet in the Q&A below.

Where are you coming to ESA from?

Prior to joining ESA, I was with the National Association of Home Builders, where I worked on growing the federation’s membership, before which I was with the Consumer Technology Association, where I oversaw the SmartHome and Vehicle Technology divisions and worked on educational and promotional campaigns. I’ve worked in the nonprofit and association sector for about four years now and have grown to appreciate all the effort and resources that volunteers put back into their industries.

How will your association management background serve the ACE and BCE programs?

While at the Consumer Technology Association, I oversaw the Mobile Electronics Certified Professionals (MECP) Program, and I have experience in overseeing maintenance-of-certification programs with medical specialty societies. Through this work, I gained an appreciation for the importance of certification: both to differentiate oneself from the competition and peers, as well as demonstrate to clients a dedication to providing the best service possible. I look forward to taking these previous experiences and working to build on the success of both programs. I am very excited about the potential for ACE’s and BCE’s growth.

What is your experience with certification in your own life?

I grew up in a very much DIY house—the thought being that you could trust your own work better than that of someone who wasn’t inherently invested in the job. When my wife and I bought our house, though, there were a number of jobs that needed to be addressed before we could move in that were well outside of the scope of my capabilities. We wanted to ensure that things were done right. Since I had worked with a voluntary certification program (MECP), I knew that people who seek those certifications do so to gain a deeper knowledge of their field and understand the root cause of an issue, rather than just the surface. The contractors that we used for HVAC repair, mold remediation, and more all had additional certifications in their field, something that I sought out. They all took the time not just to tell me what was going to be fixed and how much it would cost but also to explain what was causing the issue, how to prevent it from reoccurring in the future, and why they chose the course of action that they did. Giving me that extra information allowed me to investigate and understand better. The extra step that these contractors provided gave me peace of mind that they were indeed invested in providing the best service possible.  

How will you begin to learn about entomology, pest management, and related science?

I got to tour the Smithsonian’s entomology collection on my second day on the job, and I learned so much from that. I have also been reading back-issues of the various entomology journals and Googling everything I can to learn more about insects and their role in our environment. When it comes to pest management, I am trying to organize a ride along with one our ACE certified PMPs to understand the day-to-day of the job. I think this will be a great opportunity to get a strong understanding of how being an ACE helps PMPs do their job better. 

What did you think of the Smithsonian tour?

This was probably the coolest ‘second day on the job’ activity I have ever gotten to experience. The tour at the Smithsonian was amazing. Seeing all of the work that goes into maintaining their collection of 35 million verified specimens and getting to see some of them up-close definitely sparked an interest in me, and I am eager to learn more about the field of entomology and learn more about what our members do.

What’s one more interesting or unique thing about you that you want to share?

I always have a hard time with these kinds of questions; I always feel a little uncomfortable talking about myself. I’ve travelled extensively throughout South America and am relatively fluent in Spanish, and I can speak a little bit of Brazilian Portuguese. In 2007, I co-organized a nonprofit to educate people on alternative fuel vehicles. A few friends and I converted a 1959 Mercedes Diesel to run on waste vegetable oil and competed in La Carrera Pan Americana, a vintage car race through Mexico. Our plan had been to collect waste oil from local restaurants and hotels to fuel the car and compete (very slowly) in the race. Unfortunately, our support truck broke down and we were not able to finish. One day, we hope to return and complete the race, proving the viability of waste oil as a fuel. When I’m not at work, I enjoy cooking, sailing, and spending as much time outside as possible.


Please join us in welcoming Willet to ESA, and feel free to contact him at or 240-696-3769.