Operation Student Connection is an outreach program of the American Seed Research Foundation, begun as a part of the “Re-Energyzing ASRF” strategic planning activities of 2000. It was determined at that time that Education should be one of the component activities of ASRF, and Operation Student Connection (OSC) would be the first project within this component. Bill Latham agreed to act as coordinator and bring the project to life at the ASTA convention in San Antonio, June 17-21, 2001. In addition to ASRF’s investment, ASTA agreed to participate by absorbing 2/3 of convention registration. The program is now a standard part of each ASTA Annual Convention with more than 60 past participants.
One of the key functions of ASRF is education in seed related sciences, including basic research in academics. To facilitate this education, ASRF will assist and encourage graduate students majoring in seed biology or seed science and technology to attend and participate in the annual convention of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), thereby sharing valuable insight into the private sector of the seed industry and establishing personal contact with members of the seed trade.
Many of these students complete their formal education without direct association with the industry that produces the subject of their education – the seed. As an addition to traditional funding of research projects, ASRF, in cooperation with ASTA, can contribute a great service to the seed industry and to each individual by acting as a catalyst for this first-hand association with the real-life seed industry.
The need for practical industry experience is obvious for those graduate students who will seek careers in the modern seed industry, but it is equally important for those who seek employment elsewhere. For example, a close understanding of the seed industry and a knowledge of its people and workings is highly beneficial for both the seed industry and the individual in cases where the career path is centered in public research, state or federal regulatory positions, or international seed schemes.
The ASTA convention provides a great wealth of industry contact opportunities and numerous sessions dealing with the important issues of the industry, from the seed lab to industry issues to international seed movement.