Industry Insight With John Conroy - Pro Landscaper Magazine USA

Industry Insight With John Conroy

by | Apr 29, 2022 | Nursery, People

Development and research in academic circle with Florida grower John Conroy.

Meaningful research done by universities for the green industry hinges on several key factors:

  • Issues worthy of research are clearly identified and aligned with industry needs
  • Funding is secured
  • Personnel is sourced and/or assigned
  • The effective dissemination of findings

Jack Rechcigl and Jeb Fields are two leaders in the green industry were kind enough to share their thoughts with us on these important issues which impact the industry and many of us directly.

Where do research topics come from?

Jack: Most of the time, research topics that faculty work on come directly from our growers. Our faculty try to work on relevant issues facing the agricultural industry.  It is important for our research faculty to work cooperatively with the people who have real world issues and targeted concerns.  The process is best served by our faculty making site visits and keeping lines of communication open with growers and others is the industry. We also partner with various agricultural organizations to stay informed on critical issues they are facing. We also have advisory committees made up of leaders from the various agricultural commodity groups as well as government officials that help ensure we are working on relevant research issues facing the growers. 

Jeb: I’m an extension specialist for the nursery industry so I get most of my ideas from growers. I like to keep my finger on the pulse, so I go visit them and attend their meetings and listen. I try to keep a balance between what I really want to do and how it can help the industry. If it’s not helping the growers and is not helping to better the industry, then what’s the point of being here, especially being in extension. I must keep that passion for what I do so I think finding a good balance of what I like and that which is impactful and helps the industry is important.

Where does research funding typically come from?

Jack:  Funding for research comes from a variety of sources. There are federal and state level monies as well as private and nonprofit organizational funding. Industry stakeholders will often set aside money to fund critical research as well. For instance, FNGLA awards up to $5,000 for each committee approved project proposal to supplement and extend current research projects. This format allows for FNGLA to pick and choose which proposals will most benefit its members and meet the priorities it has set for the year. All funding is very competitive, and faculty researchers must compete with others across the state and the nation to secure the monies. Many of the grants have very specific criteria attached and grant writers must get ‘creative’ to meet the requirements of the grant as well as craft it to meet the needs of the problem being researched. It is important for organizations to be very active in lobbying to have funding earmarked for specific research. Without governmental funding, research is often very limited. 

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