"My earliest memories of ASHS involve discussing research in the hallway at an annual conference and interacting with leaders in my field in a Working Group meeting. Annual conferences have been a significant part of my professional career. I look forward to them. They provide a great opportunity to see friends, gain reaction to my work, and formulate new ideas." — ASHS President Dewayne Ingram
Annual conferences provide opportunities to develop leadership skills through Working Group positions and committee service. We each have stories of how annual conferences supported our professional development and increased our sphere of colleagues.
The recent member survey provided insight into why most of us participate in annual conferences. The vast majority of respondents (82%) indicated that “presenting your scholarly work to peers” and “gaining the latest technical information in your field” were very important or the most important activities at an annual conference. These two reasons for attending annual conferences were followed closely (72%) by “networking and hallway conferencing” and “interacting in Working Groups.” The results of a 2002 member survey were similar.
The call for abstracts, workshops, and colloquia proposals and registration has been made for the 2012 Annual Conference. We will be at the InterContinental Miami on July 31–August 3. The facilities are great, an all-in-one luxury hotel in a horticultural paradise. Horticulture is diverse and plentiful in south Florida and in Miami–Dade County. There will be a lot to see and experience. Did you know that there are more than 30,000 acres of vegetables, 12,000 acres of tropical fruit groves, and about 2,000 acres of ornamental nurseries in Miami–Dade County? The subtropical marine climate allows for year-around production of an unbelievable variety of crops. That range of crops is illustrated by green beans, summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, sweet corn, Cuban sweetpotatoes, avocado, lychee, longan, star fruit, dragon fruit, guava, ornamental foliage plants, palms, tropical trees, orchids, bromeliads, and ferns . . . growing in the same county. Miami–Dade County is ranked as the number-one county in production of green beans and its ornamental industry is ranked number one in Florida and second in the US. According to a 2009 study, Miami–Dade agriculture, horticulture, and related industries generate more than 222,000 jobs (14% of total) in the county and $13.40 billion in revenues. It is quite difficult to believe that this unique agricultural and horticultural production area is located between two national parks, just south of the largest metropolitan area of Florida. The center of horticulture production in the county is within a one-hour drive of the conference hotel.
Oral and poster sessions are the backbone of our annual conferences. Your submitted abstracts are organized into logical, topical oral and poster sessions by the Technical Program Committee in concert with headquarters staff. By the way, that is a huge, behind-the-scenes task performed under time pressure. Thanks in advance to committee co-chairs Dennis Ray and Carl Sams and their committee.
Colloquia add significantly by focusing up to four hours of program time on a specific subject. Not all of the invited speakers in colloquia are ASHS members, and they bring valuable information and perspective to the chosen topic. Three to four colloquia are usually scheduled at each annual conference.
Workshops provide an opportunity for Working Groups to focus on a specific topic of interest and invite individuals, usually ASHS members, to contribute to the discussion. The format is intended to provide new or “hot topic” information on the subject and allow discussion among members. Requests for colloquia and workshops are submitted primarily through Working Groups.
ASHS annual conferences are literally gold mines for students, especially graduate students. Professors, this is your opportunity to introduce them to key leaders in their/your field of study and to introduce them to the value of participating in the premier professional society in horticultural science. The recent membership survey indicated that most of the respondents were members because someone made a personal contact or personally encouraged their participation. Annual conferences provide the opportunity for you to set your students on the right track. Funding cuts at our institutions have limited our ability to support student travel, but it is difficult to put a value on a student’s experience of presenting her/his work at an ASHS annual conference. If the graduate school at your institution supports graduate student travel to professional meetings, ensure that your students meet the application deadline. I have missed those before. A limited number of student travel grants are available through ASHS, so make sure your students apply when submitting their abstracts. Department chairs will be asked to rank each student by Headquarters.
This Reflections column is a call to action in preparing for the 2012 Annual Conference. First, mark July 31–August 3 on your calendar. Below are some of the related deadlines.
March 15 — Abstract submission deadline
March 15 — Workshop and colloquium Deadline
April 4 — All abstracts submissions must be paid in full
April 27 — All scheduled abstracts will be posted to the ASHS website
May 1 — Last date to make any changes to colloquium or workshop proposals
May 15 — All presenting authors must be registered and paid for the conference
May 15 — All presenting authors must have a hotel reservation at the InterContinental
July 6 — Last date to make hotel reservations for all attendees
Share your conference experiences
Please share your favorite memory (and photos) of an annual conference, and we will post some of them.
I look forward to seeing you at the 2012 Annual Conference.
This Reflections column by ASHS President Dewayne Ingram was published in the February 2012 ASHS Newsletter.