Monday, October 29, 2018

Leaving a Lasting Impression on Laureates

Surrounded by the beauty of the University of California-Davis's campus, CAST board members and staff convened for the organization's annual meeting on October 23, and for three days they met in work groups, toured various facilities, and discussed ways that CAST could be most effective in performing its mission. Although attendees came from scattered locations and varied fields of expertise, they reminisced on a successful year and exchanged ideas about how to best communicate credible science and agricultural information to policymakers and the public.

Attendees toured several locations on campus, the Robert Mondavi Institute, and a Syngenta R&D center. The official business meetings and work group sessions took place at the California Farm Bureau Federation building. One of the highlights of the meeting was the attendance of three Borlaug CAST Communication Award laureates. Carl Winter and Alison Van Eenennaam addressed the gathering on Tuesday, sharing the impact this award recognition has had on their careers and efforts in science communication.

Carl started off the evening saying that he still feels extremely honored to have received the award in 2012. Being connected to Norman Borlaug in such a way inspires him daily. "Throughout the years I have learned that if I stick my neck out when it comes to science communication, I might get a little banged up and times might get tough, but in the end it is important to reflect on why we must continue to bridge the gap. It is refreshing to have CAST there to back us up as we work to share the importance of science communication."

Alison shared that the Borlaug CAST Communication Award has propelled her to national notoriety, which she jokes is often something to be thankful for, but occasionally rather intimidating and challenging. "I think those trying to silence people who are speaking the truth about agriculture is a real concern and I worry young people see that and are drawn to staying in their labs and doing their research instead of standing up to the public sector. But is that not our job--providing evidence-based information to allow people to make the best decisions?" She ended her speech saying that she believes CAST is essential in aligning all the different scientific societies and bringing them together as one agricultural organization.

On Wednesday, Jayson Lusk joined the meeting via video broadcasting to share his experiences with the group. "I still feel very humble to have received the Borlaug CAST Communication Award. I think it is a nice mechanism that CAST has to promote and encourage communication about science and innovation. The platform that CAST has at the World Food Prize is an outstanding medium to hold up people and topics that allow for science communication to come to the forefront." Jayson shared that this award provides visibility and elevates the recipient to newly opened doors and opportunities to engage with a wide range of groups.

It is obvious that receiving the Borlaug CAST Communication Award has helped draw attention to the research these laureates provide and has built a national platform for their science communication efforts. This relationship has been mutually beneficial to CAST as the award recipients help to promote the work CAST does in providing credible, science-based information.

If you know someone who is actively engaged in promoting agriculture through research, teaching, extension, or mass communication; who has made significant contributions to their discipline or field; and who demonstrates a passionate interest in communicating the importance of agriculture to policymakers, the news media, and the public, keep in mind that nomination material for the 2019 Borlaug CAST Communication Award is now available.

Related Material:
Click here to download the nomination packet.
Click here for a link to the email announcement.

By: Kylie Peterson

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Word From CAST's President--Nancy Reichert

Preparing this report has given me the opportunity to reflect on this past year, and I am in awe of everything CAST has accomplished. What quickly became apparent to me is how all our efforts in CAST are truly interconnected, just as depicted in the Strategic Plan circular flow chart. Because of this group effort, we have been incredibly prolific, publication-wise. Six reports, along with accompanying Ag quickCASTs, were published and rolled out in 2018, to date, with an additional report scheduled for release later this year. This productivity could not have been accomplished without our CAST members. The 2018 publication releases include:
Our Spring (April) Board of Director’s meeting was held at the Syngenta America office in Washington, D.C. This gave us the opportunity to visit with a number of organizations and stakeholders located in the D.C. area. We also hosted an event focused around the Borlaug CAST Communication Award (BCCA). Mr. Steve Censky, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, welcomed us.  Dr. Jayson Lusk (2017 BCCA winner) gave an outstanding presentation--“The Politicization of Food Consumption and Communication.” After his talk, I was honored to announce the 2018 BCCA winner, Dr. Marty Matlock. Being a faculty member at Mississippi State University, it was also an honor to make this announcement in the Jamie L. Whitten (USDA) building, named for our State’s long-serving Congressman.

Our BCCA breakfast was held October 17, and this official side event of the World Food Prize was well attended. Dr. Matlock gave a great presentation--“The Promise of Prosperity from the Land in the 21st Century.” CropLife Foundation generously agreed to repartner with CAST for a 3-year commitment to fund this BCCA event. In opening remarks, Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation, reinforced that our event was an integral component of the overall World Food Prize experience. CAST member organizations were also well represented at this and other side events, and in the displays lining the hallways outside meeting rooms. I’m confident we will continue to have a strong presence at the World Food Prize.

We are fortunate to have a number of member organizations committed to CAST’s mission. In efforts to keep them better-informed, we began providing quarterly updates. In addition, I reached out to the presidents of all of our society members to thank them for their continued support and provided them with a timely update. Knowing that attracting additional member organizations is also important, we focused on contacting those not currently members. Being from academia, I tried to attract greater university participation in CAST. A change suggested by the Strategic Plan’s Strong Financial Base Implementation Team, tweaked by the Governance Committee and approved by the Board of Directors, enabled a tiered membership for universities, with membership dues based on overall student enrollment in agriculture-based majors. Therefore, I contacted 62 smaller universities, introducing them to CAST and informing them about this lower membership fee, and I am hopeful that we will have more than one take advantage of this membership opportunity in the near future.

In preparing this report, I’ve also taken time to reflect on my “place” in CAST. The structure of the CAST presidency is akin to a relay race. I’ve had one year to train and stretch, one year to run, and, once I pass the baton to Dr. Gabe Middleton (incoming President), I will have one year for cool-down. Then I will cycle out of CAST, although I will always remain connected through my lifetime membership commitment. Most of our previous CAST Presidents have cycled out of CAST, and in an effort to retain these former “athletes,” I formed the Past President’s Advisory Council. Although under-utilized this past year, my hope is that future CAST Presidents will call on us when needed.

It’s hard to put into words how grateful and honored I am to have served in this role; it has been a great run! This experience was a highlight of my professional career. It took a village called CAST to enable me to serve as President. As such, there are so many individuals, and organization members, I want to thank. First and foremost, sincere thanks go to Kent Schescke and the entire CAST staff. Until you have had the opportunity to serve in this type of position, you don’t realize what an amazing group of talented, dedicated, and awesomely nice people we are fortunate to have in the CAST office. Each member of the Board of Directors has been extremely supportive and I could not have asked for a better group of colleagues to work with. I could always rely on the Board of Trustees to offer strong stewardship. And, although I didn’t get to know each Board of Representatives member, I am thankful for your support and hard work. You are CAST!

One last thing to say – Gabe, get ready to take the baton!

Nancy Reichert

Friday, October 19, 2018

Agriculture in the Spotlight

For the ninth year in a row, the winner of the Borlaug CAST Communication Award was honored at a World Food Prize side event, and this year's recipient—Marty Matlock—gave an insightful keynote address about The Promise of Prosperity from the Land in the 21st Century.

Matlock began by explaining how he was inspired by Dr. Norman Borlaug, and he paid tribute to his legacy by emphasizing the need for interdisciplinary efforts as we work to feed the world. Matlock explained that "prosperity is well-being; social connections are the key."

Following his presentation, Matlock joined a panel of experts to discuss sustainability, land stewardship, and consumer communication. The gathering ended with a Q & A session, giving each speaker an opportunity to provide specifics about what works best for a vibrant and sustainable food system. Dr. Matlock summed it up well by saying, "It's urgent that all sectors need to work together--we need to build trust." 

The CAST morning event during World Food Prize week was a lively mix of food, friendship, and the sharing of ideas. CAST's Executive Vice President Kent Schescke was the person coordinating it all as he welcomed farmers, journalists, scientists, and various special guests to the October 17 Borlaug CAST Communication Award ceremony. He invited Mark Cochran of the University of Arkansas to introduce Marty Matlock, and Schescke then presented him with the bronze award. During a 30-minute slide presentation (video here), Dr. Matlock demonstrated why he won the 2018 BCCA by showing his ability to synthesize interconnected topics and present them to a diverse audience. 

Top row left to right: Kent Schescke, Julie Borlaug Larson with Jeanie Borlaug Laube, and Kenneth Quinn. Panel members: Jan-Henrick Mohr, Jason Weller, Marty Matlock, Chris Novak, and Erin Fitzgerald. Mid right: Mark Cochran and Marty Matlock. Below them: John Bonner (past EVP of CAST and driving force of BCCA presence at the WFP) and his wife Sandee. Below them: audience at the event including members of the Global Farmer's Roundtable. 
Also during the morning event, Schescke thanked attendees and sponsors, and he introduced Jay Vroom--representing the CropLife Foundation--who stressed the importance of communication. As Vroom said, "Tell it to the public."  

Julie Borlaug Larson (INARI Agriculture) added to that by saying, "CAST has stayed true to my grandfather's vision. We can't leave communication out of agriculture." She gave a special shout out to farmers, including those attending from the Global Farmer Roundtable. "They are the reason we are all here." 
Following Matlock's speech, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) and American Society of Agronomy (ASA) organized a presentation and panel discussion--Global Sustainability for a Vibrant Earth.  

Chris Novack (President and CEO of CropLife America) moderated the program. Panelists included Erin Fitzgerald (U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance), Jan-Hendrick Mohr (CLAAS Group), Jason Weller (Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN), and Marty Matlock. They focused on topics about sustainability, land stewardship, and consumer communication. The gathering ended with a Q & A session, giving each speaker an opportunity to provide specifics about what works best for a vibrant and sustainable food system. Dr. Matlock summed it up well by saying, "It's urgent that all sectors work together--we need to build trust." 

The Special Nature of World Food Prize Week--and CAST's Connections   

As CAST President Nancy Reichert said, "Member organizations and universities from CAST were well represented at the World Food Prize, and Ambassador Kenneth Quinn stated that the BCCA event will continue to have a strong presence there." Reichert and CAST's President-Elect, Gabe Middleton, also praised the Global Farmer Roundtable and its participants from 11 countries, ranging from Argentina to Zimbabwe. Middleton was impressed with the respect the farmers showed for one another and the common goals they have--including a desire to look for new production methods and technologies. 

Many CAST members, organizations, and education groups were involved with the week's activities. As Dirk Drost of Syngenta pointed out, "The opportunity to network, listen, learn, and share the mission of CAST with many different people from across the food system was invaluable." He specifically mentioned attending receptions by Corteva, CRISPERcon, CropLife, the Governor, and Purdue University.  

World Food Prize events included the honoring of the laureates, David Nabarro and Lawrence Haddad; the Borlaug Dialogue, Rise to the Challenge; and the World Food Prize State Youth Institutes.  

by dan gogerty (photos by Dwight Tomes, Nancy Reichert, and Dan Gogerty)