Last week the University of Arkansas Horticulture Club traveled to San Antonio, TX for the annual meeting of the Southern Region American Society for Horticulture Science. Here we compete against other university clubs in several competitions including woody/herbaceous ID, fruit, nut and vegetable judging, as well as overall club activity over the past year. It is also a great opportunity to participate in a professional conference. It is always a treat to see our professors interacting with their colleagues. A few of us were also able to present on our own research projects.
This is the third year I’ve attended this conference and I have to say this trumps them all. The first time I traveled to ASHS we were a small club and had little to show. The clubs we are up against are extremely active and well-supported by their department and this can be intimidating for a smaller organization like us. Each year we’ve grown and had more to show for it and I was extremely proud to present on what we’ve accomplished over the past year. Two plant sales, community garden projects, guest speakers, a club merger, and multiple university events just to name a few of the events we’ve hosted since last winter.
But it’s not all just about competition between clubs. The first day of the conference we spent presenting on our clubs then traveling to a local botanical garden. Sure we compete, but it’s more about getting to know like-minded people from other universities who will likely be our peers in the industry for the rest of our lives. We bounce ideas off each other and learn how we can improve our clubs and get inspiration for our professional careers. It is these relationships we build that I cherish the most by the end of the conference.
I am happy to report that our club team won 2nd and 3rd place in fruit and vegetable judging and Preston Smith won 2nd place individual for his fruit judging skills. At our next meeting be sure to congratulate Kenneth Buck, Mallory Martin, Preston Smith, and Blake Hawkins for a job well done!