UF/CALS Challenge 2050 Project Earns Top Honors at National Conference

Randall Weiseman Florida

Challenge 2050 team

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – When family, youth and community sciences senior Madeline Black began volunteering with the University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Challenge 2050 Project, she had no idea the impact this experience would have on her future career plans.

“Because of my involvement with Challenge 2050, I’ll be applying to the agricultural education and communication master’s program this year,” Black said. “Long-term, I hope to go into leadership education.”

The Challenge 2050 Project is an academic and student development program at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences that addresses issues related to a growing population. Most recently, it earned the Outstanding Program Award at the 2017 annual Association of Leadership Educators (ALE) conference in Charleston, South Carolina.

“It is both humbling and amazing to share the hard work of our students and faculty,” said Tony Andenoro, UF/IFAS assistant professor and director of the Challenge 2050 Project. “This is the culmination of five years of really hard work that has made Challenge 2050 a reality, and has created real opportunities for our students to impact the world. That’s the ultimate reward. No other university has a program like this that includes undergraduates like we do.”

The project incorporates real-world applications by encouraging students to develop solutions and recognize cultural, political and social forces impacting global communities. Through the Challenge 2050 Project, students have worked with faculty on at least three patents that are currently pending. Partnerships with industries provide resources that students are able to use for creative solutions to mitigate problems associated with a growing population.

“One of the most rewarding experiences of Challenge 2050 has been the executive in-residence program,” Black said. “I enjoy hearing the stories from industry partners of how they are working to solve problems around the world. It’s a great source of knowledge for college students.”

Leslie Pedigo, ALE awards director, said the awards judges thought very highly of the Challenge 2050 Project proposal. One judge said, “This particular application does an incredible job of showing they intertwine curriculum and creating space for students to be adaptive leaders creating their own solutions to global issues. The depth and breadth of the program and the students, communities and issues it supports left me feeling like it should be a model for other programs to strive for.”

Additional awards won by faculty and students in the UF/IFAS department of agricultural education and communication at the conference are:

  • Distinguished Innovative Practice Poster Awards:
    • Nicole Stedman and Tony Andenoro
    • Matt Sowcik, Jera Niewoehner-Green and Matt Benge
    • Natalie Coers
  • Distinguished Leadership and Service Award: Nicole Stedman
  • Distinguished Educator Workshop Award: Caitlin Bletscher
  • Founding Mother’s Scholarship: Sarah Ann Bush

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