AEC’s Maggie Elliot expands academic horizons to advanced bioeconomy track
By: Norman Martin
Maggie Elliot, a master's graduate student with Texas Tech University's Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, has been named a Consortium for Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Education student delegate. CABLE, for short, is a nationwide organization of 20 universities led by Ohio State University and supported by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The Prosser, Washington native is among 20 student delegates, aided by faculty mentors, participating in the year-long program focusing on leadership development within the bioeconomy. The program provides access to current executives and industry leaders, along with feedback on career preparation, academic training, and internship opportunities.
"Serving as a CABLE delegate has afforded a network of peers and mentors, immersing me in a community who has realized the magnitude of potential harnessed in plant matter and believes this discipline can propel our society towards a more sustainable existence," Elliot said. "The CABLE program has empowered me to explore the abundance of innovations stemming from the bioeconomy industry, prompting a challenge of finding creative methods of translating the pragmatic applications of the sciences to different public audiences."
CABLE was created to develop bioeconomy industry leaders who will be ready to fill bioeconomy careers, said Program Director Dennis Hall. Those future careers typically include chemists, engineers and scientists. "The advanced bioeconomy is critical to a more sustainable future for society, but it's largely invisible to all but few college students," Hall said. "The ultimate goal is to equip more students with the knowledge and leadership skills necessary for successful biobased enterprises."
"It is important for agricultural communicators to be involved in opportunities like CABLE because as agricultural production evolves and becomes more complex, consumers may have more questions about the process and products," said Courtney Meyers, an associate professor and graduate studies coordinator with Tech's Department of Agricultural Education and Communications. "Trained communicators such as Maggie can provide those answers in an understandable way and improve the communication efforts along every step of a biobased product's development and distribution."
Asked what a biobased product is, officials with the Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center at Ohio State University explained that it's the application of plant-derived resources as an alternative to non-renewable matter. In other words, a sustainable approach that considers the entire product life cycle from its agricultural origin to its overall renewability.
Some common bioproducts include household cleaners; paints and stains; personal care items; plastic bottles and containers; packaging materials; office supplies; and soaps and detergents. Today, plant derived resources for bioproducts tend to come from soybeans and corn, but other resources include sunflowers, canola, switchgrass, algae, sugarcane, flax, potatoes and wheat.
Recently Elliot and Venugopal Mendu, an assistant professor with Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science and Elliot's faculty mentor, participated in the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference in San Francisco. The national meeting focused on issues related to the bioeconomy. Students took part in information sessions and industry panels that featured representatives from Aemetis, LanzaTech, Sierra Energy, POET, and Impossible Foods.
CONTACT: Steven Fraze, Chairman, Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2816 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Editor: Norman Martin
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