(We Won’t Back Down … ) Stand Your Ground for Agriculture

What do Wonder Woman, Tom Petty, Dr. Kevin Folta, CCAs (certified crop advisers), and you have in common?

There’s a thrilling fight scene in the movie where Wonder Woman charges into the fray, shield up, drawing the fire so others can charge forward and win the battleground.

And then, the recent death of rock star Tom Petty comes to mind with his lyrics:

“Well, I won’t back down
No, I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down.”

Which leads me to Dr. Kevin Folta and his courageous decision to personally sue the New York Times. The much acknowledged UF/IFAS researcher stands for science and he won’t back down.

And then there’s all the challenges Florida agriculture faces — whether manmade (laws, regulations, public opinion) or natural (hurricanes, pests, and diseases) and what we can do about them.

Well, you don’t have to be a super hero, rock star, or award-winning scientist to help Florida agriculture stand its ground. You can help by supporting professionalism in Florida fields.

While there are many ways to demonstrate professionalism, industry certification is a path to consider. One I support is the CCA program. I’m super proud of the men and women in Florida who have earned this prestigious certification. (Full disclosure — I have the privilege of working for the Florida CCA Board of Directors as program administrator.)

To become a CCA, one must pass two rigorous tests of academic knowledge; document years of hands-on ag experience; commit to ongoing professional development; and swear to abide by a code of ethics. This code includes a requirement to cooperate with others to “encourage the ethical dissemination of technical knowledge.”

Pursuing a professional certification is a worthy endeavor, but don’t stop there.

If I’ve learned one thing in my career as an ag advocate, it’s that technical expertise alone is not enough to win the hearts and minds of the general public. We also must communicate our values if we want to hold our ground as an industry.

And, one of the values I hold dear — and strive to promote — is professionalism in the field. With that in mind, let me share the great news that Armando Campos has been elected Chairman of the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program. Campos, President of Orlando-based Nutrient Technologies LLC and a former Florida CCA Board Chairman, assumes the ICCA leadership role on Jan. 1, 2018. In addition to all of the responsibilities he takes on, one privilege Campos will have is the opportunity to showcase Florida’s ag industries by hosting the ICCA Board meeting next September. Stay tuned.

Congratulations to Armando and to all of Florida’s outstanding ag professionals. Thank You for what you do to help Florida ag grow and stand strong.

To learn more about the CCA program, visit Certifiedcropadviser.org.

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