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UF/IFAS Challenge 2050 students networked at Tampa international seed convention

seed conference

TAMPA, Fla. — Nearly 20 students from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences were treated to an all-expense paid trip to the 54th annual American Seed Trade Association’s 54th annual Vegetable & Flower Seed Conference show in Tampa this week.

Limagrain, an international agricultural co-operative group specializing in field and vegetable seeds, and its subsidiary, HM.CLAUSE, took 18 students to the event at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. The students are enrolled in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Challenge 2050 program, which is looking for innovative ways to feed the world’s expected 9 billion people by the year 2050.

At the ASTA show, buyers learned about new varieties and the latest news about seed development and movement in U.S. and foreign markets. Everyone from Ag Biotech, Inc. to Zhang Ye Ruizhen Seeds Company was represented. Students talked with corporate CEOs and top scientists.

“The Challenge 2050 Project is a cornerstone of HM.CLAUSE’s commitment to developing the next generation of young professionals who will help to lead our world in the coming decades,” said Andres Trillo, HM.CLAUSE vice president of human resources.  “The project’s focus on food security and natural resource conservation in the context of a growing world population aligns with our core values and long-term sustainable business practices.”

UF/IFAS student Kiona Elliot said agricultural leaders were interested in hearing the students’ ideas because they bridge a generational gap that allows corporate innovators to understand what today’s young people are thinking and developing.

“My experience at ASTA in Tampa has been beyond my wildest dreams,” said another UF/IFAS student, Nathan Carson. “The opportunity to interact with seed executives from across the country and the chance to share our projects with visitors from around the world has been both exciting and inspiring. Additionally, the chance to learn about the seed industry and including specific aspects of it, such as research, production, marketing, and sales has been eye opening and motivating.”

UF/IFAS researchers were also on hand at the event.  Horticulture Professor John Scott spoke about Genomic Tools in Vegetable Breeding, while David Clark, founder of UF’s Plant Innovation Program, discussed organic seeds and “Breeding for the Consumer.”

The event ended Monday.

By Kimberly Moore Wilmoth, 352-294-3302, k.moore.wilmoth@ufl.edu

Source:        Sierra Scott, 530-747-3741, sierra.scott@hmclause.com

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