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.
By: Kylie Peterson
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