Lorenzo Rossi, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) assistant professor, has been selected to train in the American Society for Horticultural Science’s Leadership Academy.
Rossi leads a team of 15 associates who perform research to support high-value crops, including citrus, at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce. He was selected for the training program in a nationwide competitive process.
The Leadership Academy is a program to grow skills for professors and industry professionals to advance the organization’s mission through higher education, funding appropriations and legislation. Rossi and others in the Leadership Academy will visit Washington, D.C., to participate in community outreach for horticultural industries.
Rossi sees opportunities to uplift producers, students and the nation’s economy with the improvement of sustainable horticultural practices through better management of plant root health.
“We must realize that American horticulture can be great and that we must compete with growers in Central and South America,” said Rossi. “Funding is needed for horticultural research because high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables are in demand, and we need to prioritize competitiveness.”
Rossi says highly trained students are needed in the horticultural industry. A Ph.D. student in his laboratory recently placed first in a Florida State Horticultural Society student oral competition. Another of his students recently completed a Ph.D. and is employed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year, a Ph.D. graduate secured a position as a postdoctoral research associate in the Everglades Agricultural Area.
“Dr. Rossi has provided an abundance of opportunities for his students, from working on different research projects, to attending national academic conferences, to presenting at Extension field days,” said current Ph.D. student Lukas Hallman.
“With the leadership training, I expect to develop a vision for initiatives that will move American horticulture in the direction that will benefit global food production,” Rossi said. “On a worldwide scale, we must design educational programs that reach the underserved, not just those who can afford those opportunities.”
Rossi believes high-tech tools for growers must be more widely adopted and employed. Among those tools are soil moisture sensors, drones and mobile phone applications for greenhouse management and irrigation.
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