As I posted earlier this month, I have been fielding a lot of questions from industry peers asking why Hort Americas continues to support, sponsor and have a booth at the 2nd International Congress on Controlled Environment Agriculture (ICCEA). This event is scheduled for May 17-19, 2017, in Panama City, Panama. I thought the best way to respond was to write a two-part blog. In my first post I focused on my business reasons for participating in ICCEA. In this second post I will focus on my philosophical reasons for my involvement with ICCEA.
Education is the foundation for innovation
I firmly believe in education. I believe that kids who have access to the best educational opportunities have a huge head-start.
I believe those young adults who are fortunate enough to attend and disciplined enough to commit themselves to a college education give themselves the opportunity to develop skills and have experiences that provide them with advantages over their peers. Business people committed to constantly challenging and questioning themselves on what they think they know through continuing education have the opportunity to be the leaders and innovators who reshape their perspective industries.
This is why I am committed to ICCEA. ICCEA is about education. ICCEA is about bringing together the best and brightest minds so that they can share their research and experiences. ICCEA is committed to expanding the knowledge base of its attendees. Each of these attendees will return to their businesses knowing they are armed with the best base of horticultural science information currently available.
For those of you who know me, my commitment to education as the base for a solid personal and professional foundation should not surprise you. For those of you who don’t know me, I ask that you visit the Hort Americas website, read the back issues of Urban Ag News and their blogs. You will quickly realize that my companies and I are not only committed to continuously educating and learning, but also to supporting those committed to horticultural and agricultural extension services.
Networking is an opportunity to explore
Whenever you meet successful business people, they usually have a diverse network of professional associates. This should not be a surprise as part of their success is their vast network of knowledgeable colleagues and friends. These networks allow them to easily navigate the business challenges and obstacles they encounter daily.
Because “good” networking leads to opportunities that create success for both parties these relationships are often long lasting and they (at least in my case) lead to some amazing friendships. This is another reason I firmly believe that networking is not selling.
Networking is listening and learning. Networking provides assistance when opportunities present themselves. In some cases these opportunities lead to sales, but effective networking does not have to lead to a business transaction.
How networking has impacted me
I credit education and networking with putting me where I am today professionally (and personally.) There are many people responsible for making me who I am today. In addition to my family and friends, many of the people I credit with helping me develop as a horticultural professional I met at educational events throughout my career. Three of these industry colleagues (and friends) will be at ICCEA this year:
1. Dr. Don Wilkerson, Texas A&M University horticulture professor and extension specialist emeritus
I met Don when I was a young “professional” more concerned with having a great time over anything else. Unfortunately I cannot share the stories of my younger years, and hopefully Don won’t either. But, that simply shows you how good of an educator Don is.
Unknowingly Don was able to communicate commercial horticultural issues in a way that made it easy for me to understand. More importantly Don inspired me to ask questions that I sought the answers for.
2. Dr. Toyoki Kozai, professor emeritus and chief director, Japan Plant Factory Association Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences at Chiba University
Dr. Kozai graciously opened himself up to an American who had never been to Japan. I had a long list of questions for him and I was eager to learn anything and everything I could about vertical farming. Whether the questions were from me or anyone else I have seen Dr. Kozai interact with, he always takes the time to answer every question, no matter how elementary, with respect and care.
3. Dr. Chieri Kubota, professor, University of Arizona, The School of Plant Sciences, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
A former student of Dr. Kozai, Chieri likely does not know this, but I totally enjoy visiting with her. Not because she is always willing to share new facts and figures based on her research, but because she is so excited about her work that she inspires me to continue to be passionate about our industry.
After reading the two blogs I have prepared on ICCEA it should be obvious why Hort Americas will be attending this industry event in Panama City, Panama, on May 17-19, 2017. During this conference we will be there learning from leading horticulture researchers, networking and creating opportunities with government representatives, existing agricultural/horticultural businesses, entrepreneurs and manufacturers of controlled environment agriculture products.
Look forward to seeing you in Panama.
– Chris Higgins, founder of Urban Ag News