IFT Programs Communicate to Varied Audiences
In this month's President's Page, I’d like to update you about several programs designed to engage IFT in communication with its volunteer leaders, Congress, educators, and the general public.

• Leadership Conference. Each year, IFT invites IFT Division and Section leaders to join IFT presidents, leadership, and staff in a two-day interactive meeting focusing on IFT programs and services and how to become more effective in leading and contributing to those initiatives. The Leadership Conference has traditionally been held in Chicago in fall, but this year, responding to recent survey feedback from our Division and Section officers, IFT offered new dates and a new location for this year’s meeting: Washington, D.C.

More than 50 IFT member leaders gathered in the nation’s capital on May 10–12, to attend the conference. Attendees participated in roundtable discussions and two interactive sessions that addressed the effectiveness of individual leadership styles and emphasized communication and collaboration within the IFT community.

The casual format of the meeting enabled members to form new relationships and obtain valuable resources and allowed them to learn about and better understand the comprehensive community of IFT. What we witnessed was continuing excitement about IFT and the programs and services available to our members, and an ongoing passion for, and investment in, the food science profession itself.

This year’s conference received rave reviews from attendees across the country, more than any other IFT leadership conference to date.

"The IFT Leadership Conference was a great opportunity to meet with fellow IFT leaders of the respective Sections and Divisions," said Conrad Rebello, Chair-Elect of the IFT Philadelphia Section. "Overall the sessions were great, but what made it even more worthwhile were the special relationships that were forged over these three days."

"I really enjoyed the entire conference—the speakers, interaction with other Section and Division leaders and the opportunity to meet IFT staff," said E.B. Russell, Chair-Elect of the St. Louis Section.

"What a wonderful leadership conference the IFT office organized," noted Clark J. Brekke, representative of the IFT Volunteer Section. "I got out of it much more than I expected, and the opportunity for professional and informal interaction with other IFT leaders was immeasurable."

• Congressional Support for Science Awards. A major highlight of the leadership conference was a reception in the U.S. Senate honoring Congressional Support for Science Award winners Senator Christopher (Kit) Bond of Missouri and Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota.

In accepting his award, Senator Bond said, "Thank you for this recognition. It is imperative that people be reminded of the role technology plays in improving the human condition around the world. As we look at the challenges and the opportunities ahead of us in this new century, we must initiate a new commitment to research and development. With your support and the joint effort of our food producers and technology providers, we will increase our nation's investment in food and agricultural research necessary to improve public health, environmental protection, and economic opportunity."

Representative Peterson also enthusiastically accepted his award and noted, "I appreciate IFT for recognizing the importance of sound, science-based public policy that improves public confidence in our nation's food supply, and I am honored to receive this award."

• New Career Guidance Program. The IFT Foundation Board also met in Washington, D.C., and voted to fund a new career guidance program with Discovery Education, a leader in digital media and multimedia-based learning. Furthering the work of IFT's Career Guidance Committee, this program will increase the visibility of IFT and food science by continuing to provide timely and pertinent educational and career materials to teachers, guidance counselors, parents, and students across the country. Educational kits which easily identify the National Science Education Standards will be offered in a contemporary and exciting format and distributed to both teachers and guidance counselors nationwide.

This program, to be launched in January 2006, will reach an estimated 18,000 public high schools across the country and can educate millions of people about the field of food science and the importance of choosing food science and food technology as a lifelong career.

As part of this project, IFT is partnering with Discovery to produce a 30-minute food science video that will reach an estimated 90 million households in the United States next year. Look for Discovery on the exhibit floor at this year’s IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo®, capturing our industry professionals at work.

I look forward to providing you with future updates on this exciting new program.

IFT President, 2004–05
President, Tragon Corp.
Redwood City, Calif.
[email protected]