Looking Back at a Decade of Changes

As the world says farewell to 2019, we can celebrate the fact that we survived a decade that included planking, Gangnam style, and Pokemon Go. For better or worse, we now know what the fox says, how dangerous selfies are, and why TikTok is no longer the sound a clock makes.

The past ten years produced many changes, including significant challenges and advancements in the realm of agriculture and science. At CAST, we look back at the successes of the closing decade, assured that even though some things evolve, one thing remains constant: the organization stays focused on its mission–communicating credible, science-based information to the public and policymakers.

CAST Gets Social
In 2010, the first iPad came out, Twitter was a youngster, and Facebook was going through adolescent growing pains. CAST had relied on print media since its inception in 1972, but the past decade has meant a growing digital awareness and calculated use of social media. With a new website format and an active presence on social media platforms, CAST material is easily available in various digital forms. From print to video to online, CAST will continue to use varied methods to deliver information.

Recognizing Outstanding Science Communicators
Also in 2010, the first Borlaug CAST Communication Award winner was Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, a globally renowned proponent of agriculture, and a man who went on to receive many awards including the 2017 World Food Prize. Nine other well-respected ag/science communicators have been selected for the annual award, with Dr. Frank Mitloehner currently holding the honor. All ten recipients use their expertise to advance science and inform the public about the realities of food production.

Staying Connected to Research
CAST has always been involved with universities, and the organization takes pride in working with educators and researchers in an effort to fulfill its mission statement. During the past decade, CAST’s Education Program has grown to include 18 exceptional universities and the many secondary agriculture students who fall under the educational umbrella of the National Association of Agricultural Educators. This is a two-way street: CAST provides ag/science information (and a new scholarship program), while CAST readers learn about exciting programs and insightful students at these schools.

During the past decade, CAST has maintained the key process in its mission to inform—the publication of credible, science-based papers. The legacy that began with an essay from Norman Borlaug in 1973 continues in a form that is detailed, time-consuming, and increasingly important in an era of “tweet news,” slanted headlines, and controversial research results. CAST relies on experts who think through the science, peer review the content, and edit until the publications are ready for the public and policymakers alike. The Ag quickCAST versions of the papers provide one-page summaries, and the material is now more easily accessed online, but the credibility of CAST’s publications still harkens back to the legacy of Dr. Borlaug and his mission to communicate sound science.

As with any organization, CAST has experienced personnel changes, technological challenges, and a dynamic broadening of the content it covers. But through it all, CAST holds on to the goals first developed decades ago—a mission to communicate credible science and promote global efforts to feed the world.

Image modified from pfc.ca

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