Leaders from 50 of North Carolina’s commodity groups and farm-related organizations recently met with N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to make sure all involved were on the same page for agriculture’s future in the state.

CALS Dean Richard Linton presided at the event which brought together the leaders with CALS administrators and faculty members with a goal of building relationships with the college’s external stakeholders, specifically those who lead the commodity groups, and to thank them for their continued partnerships with and support of the College.

“This is the first meeting of its kind in almost 10 years,” he said. “According to the strategic plan, the ‘student/stakeholder experience’ is at the center of all we do. To ensure we are meeting the needs of our stakeholders and developing future agriculture and life science leaders that will deliver solutions for our commodity groups, a check-in like this is essential.”

“The goals of the meeting were to improve communications with our stakeholders,” said Tom Monaco, CALS Commodity Relations director, “and to bring them up to date on the status of the College’s strategic plan, of the Cooperative Extension vision sessions, of the ways we are attracting students to our College through the ASPIRE program and 2-by-2 agreements with community colleges, and of new research initiatives.”

During the day-long event, participants first heard from Linton, who outlined the process and implementation progress of the strategic plan in his presentation, “Strategically Moving Forward Toward Our Envisioned Future.” Following Linton were updates from associate deans, Joe Zublena, director of N.C. Cooperative Extension; Steve Lommel, director of the N.C. Agricultural Research Service; and Sam Pardue, director of Academic Programs.

After a lunch, the group heard from commodity speakers Deborah Johnson of the N.C. Pork Council, Julie Woodcock of the N.C. Blueberry Council and Sue Langdon of the N.C. Sweetpotato Commission.

During breakout presentations from each of the CALS department heads, attendees were updated on research activities and programs affecting the state’s commodities and its economy.