A University of Florida professor celebrated for his gift to mentor graduate students was selected for the American Society for Horticultural Science for its Outstanding Volunteer of the Year 2022 Award.
Lorenzo Rossi advanced the American Society for Horticultural Science or ASHS’s mission to serve researchers and graduate students with upgrades to student competition events and increases in students and judges participating from national and international universities.
“I am honored and thankful to the American Society for Horticultural Science for acknowledging my contributions to the Graduate Students Activities Committee, which I loved to chair from 2019 to this past year,” said Rossi.
Rossi said his success was primarily due to his team members at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center, or IRREC.
“Lukas Hallman assisted with four annual conferences held in Las Vegas, Orlando (virtual), Denver, and Chicago,” said Rossi. “Most of the time, Lukas volunteered with me instead of competing to provide a more robust competition event for his peers.”
Rossi led a scientific research poster contest in which, every year, more than 150 students who represented universities nationwide competed. For the first year of Rossi’s appointment as committee chair, 50 students participated in the event. A second competition for the students, called “Scholars Ignite,” involved 3-minute-long presentations for up to 80 students in 2022. For the first year of Rossi’s appointment as committee chair, 50 students participated in the event.
In an announcement made by the American Society for Horticultural Science, conference leaders wrote, “He (Rossi) facilitated pre-conference webinars to provide students with competitive instructions and advice and successfully conducted the competitions at the virtual (2020) and hybrid (2021) conferences. In Chicago (2022), Lorenzo oversaw the largest group of student participants in both competitions and helped with a popular new event, the first annual Trivia Night and Student Awards Ceremony combination.
Rossi said he moved a paper-based judging system onto an electronic platform accessed with a mobile device. He also helped with the establishment of electronic poster presentations. He also wrote an online evaluation questionnaire for students to rate their full competition experience and each event separately. The transition was made before the pandemic era and helped the fully online conference proceed with the rated events. He also wrote an online evaluation questionnaire for students to rate their full competition experience and each event separately.
“We aim to improve the conference yearly with the questionnaires,” said Rossi. He added that 60% of conference participants complete post-event questionnaires, well above a standard 30% return rate for similar digital programs.
Each year Rossi must recruit nationwide judges to evaluate academic participants. He said Dr. Kent Kobayashi at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Dr. Catherine Simpson from Texas Tech University assisted with judging and planning.
“It was a privilege to serve the organization, and I am grateful to those who helped me,” said Rossi.