At the annual meeting on October 28, 2020, outgoing CAST President Juan Tricarico added to the many valuable types of input he has provided during the past years by finishing his portion of the annual meeting with his usual upbeat, thoughtful comments. Incoming President David Baltensperger then began his official responsibilities, but he had already been leading webinars and performing many other crucial roles for CAST.
Dr. Baltensperger was raised on a farm in the Nebraska panhandle, attended Nebraska Wesleyan University for his B.S. degree, the University of Nebraska for his M.S. degree, and completed his Ph.D. at New Mexico State University.
Prior to working at Texas A&M University, he worked for the University of Florida for nine years in plant breeding, with a focus on forage legumes. He also worked at the University of Nebraska for 17 years as a plant breeder focusing on alternative crops until assuming his current role as department head at Texas A&M in 2006. Baltensperger provides leadership and administration for a large comprehensive program of research, teaching, and extension in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M University.
With CAST, Baltensperger represented the Crop Science Society of America from October 2014 through 2017 when he joined the Board of Directors as the Society Liaison. He also served as the Task Force Board Liaison for the recently released issue paper on aquifer depletion. In addition to CAST, he has been active in ASA (Fellow and Editor of Books and Monographs and currently Science Policy), CSSA (President and Fellow and currently Senior Editor for AGE), SSA, CSSP (Board Chair), and AAAS (Fellow), and he currently serves on the NAREEE Board and as chair of the Texas State Seed and Plant Board.
During the 2020 CAST annual meeting, Baltensperger challenged listeners to:
Baltensperger’s vision for CAST: As a member of CAST for many years, and recently as a representative of CSSA and currently on the Board of Directors, I have a significant background in the activities of the organization that helps guide my vision of the future. The current strategic plan outlines things that I feel strongly about and would strive to have as the focus of my leadership. I have a vision of only modest growth as I feel that we have found our niche and work well within it. However, to remain strong we must embrace advances in technology that allow us to better deliver our information in a timely manner. I am committed to a strong focus on the science behind our work and want to continue the strong engagement of our work groups. CAST is undergoing rapid transition in staffing, and we must have plans for a smooth transition as we move to the future with an outstanding staff. We need to continue to focus on the opportunity to leverage our activities with funding through multiple partnerships to continue the mission of CAST. CAST will do this through its network of experts and will assemble, interpret, and communicate credible, balanced, science-based information to policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public—to realize our vision—a world where decision making related to agriculture and natural resources is based on credible information developed through reason, science, and consensus building.
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