Jim Stark, who has worked for the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District for 30 years — as executive director since 2006 — plans to take a similar job in Florida starting in January.
Stark has signed a letter of intent to become the executive director of the Collier Mosquito Control District based in Naples, Fla. That will not be final until a contract is signed, but he plans to submit his resignation in November, he said.
At 60, Stark said he is ready for a new challenge and it’s a good time to relocate his family because his daughter will be in college next year. He said he will miss the metro district. He has lived in Minnesota for 30 years and “this has been my life for those 30 years,” Stark said. “I love this organization.”
Stark began working for the district during the summers when he was in college and in 1978 was hired as a seasonal inspector. He also served as a field supervisor and public affairs coordinator for the agency before becoming executive director.
Because mosquitoes thrive where there is water, there will be plenty of mosquitoes to work on in Florida, Stark said. The Collier County district targets mature, flying mosquitoes by spraying them from planes and helicopters. By contrast, Minnesota’s metro district, which serves the seven-county area, targets mosquitoes when they are larvae by dropping pellets in their breeding grounds.
Providing as much mosquito control as possible within budget constraints will continue to be a challenge for the agency, as will climate change, which is causing new breeds of mosquitoes to move here, he said.