New CAST Issue Paper Recommends Agriculturalists Develop Professional Portfolios to Communicate Value of their Work to Society and Others

January 1, 1900

The Professional Portfolio: Beyond the Curriculum Vitae

New CAST Issue Paper Recommends Agriculturalists Develop Professional Portfolios to Communicate Value of their Work to Society and Others

The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) released a paper today that provides recommendations on how agricultural professionals can better communicate the value of their work to the public and their profession. The CAST paper describes the professional portfolio as a tool to demonstrate accountability and meaning to employers, state and federal governments, funding agencies, taxpayers, review boards and society at large.

"A professional portfolio can help individuals answer some of the fundamental questions the public is asking about how agriculture is relevant to them as well as how it impacts the environment," said paper coauthor James R. Fischer of the Agriculture and Forestry Research Department at Clemson University. "It is designed to be a tool to assess, evaluate and communicate."

CAST's paper grew out of Conversations on Change discussions, which CAST sponsored across the country with members of various professional societies. Supporters of the Conversations on Change included the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, the Farm Foundation, the American Phytopathological Society, the Entomological Society of America, the Entomological Foundation and the Weed Science Society of America.

"A professional portfolio goes beyond the standard curriculum vitae. It presents career highlights and how one's accomplishments impact society and other groups," said coauthor David A. Knauft of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "Improved appreciation can lead to increased support and funding. The professional portfolio also provides a way to better recognize the contributions of nontraditional members who teach, conduct extension activities, or apply research knowledge."

The teaching profession has recently embraced the portfolio as a means for self-evaluation, reflection, and improvement, as well as a means to document professional development and effectiveness. Since 1995, more than 500 colleges and universities have adopted the portfolio as an evaluation tool.

CAST's paper recommends that the portfolio be concise and be no more than 10 pages in length. It should be representative not comprehensive. Although the individual content and presentation will vary, the information should be designed to address how the professional is meeting a specific need of society in general or of the professional society to which the author belongs.

The CAST paper recommends the following subjects be included in the portfolio:

  • Skill--evidence of an individual's achievements;
  • Collaboration--explanation of collaborative work and its scope;
  • Impact--report of why work was important;
  • Dynamic growth--documentation of lifelong career growth through training, leadership and more;
  • Goals--identification of immediate and long-term goals and areas that have been targeted for improvement in the service of society, students, constituents and more;
  • Skills and abilities--examples that are easily understood by a broad range of people.
  • Values--a discussion that could include professional, ethical and/or visionary applications;
  • Service--activities that show how personal values impact job, community, family and society in general;
  • Growth--evidence of professional and personal development, such as sabbaticals, promotions and workshops;
  • Achievements--information on activities or recognition that shows value to the general public, a professional society, students or others.

Examples and sources are provided in the CAST paper, The Professional Portfolio: Beyond the Curriculum Vitae, that is available at www.cast-science.org. One may also contact CAST by calling 515-292-2125 or by e-mail at cast@cast-science.org.

CAST is an international consortium of 37 scientific and professional societies representing more than 180,000 member scientists. The mission of CAST is to assemble, interpret, and communicate science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally on food, fiber, agricultural, natural resource, and related societal and environmental issues to stakeholders--legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.