Before joining Purdue University in April 2013, Bo Beaulieu served as director of the Southern Rural Development Center and professor of rural sociology at Mississippi State University for nearly 16 years. He previously served as faculty at the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences for 20 years.
Beaulieu, who serves as the PIE Center advisory board chairman, will join fellow board members in Gainesville on October 1 and 2 for the board’s annual meeting. Check piecenter.com next week for news and information about the meeting.
By Bo Beaulieu, PhD
Director, Purdue Center for Regional Development
Assistant Director, Purdue Extension Community Development Program
As the new chair of the PIE Center Advisory Board, I am pleased to share a few words about the Center and the critical role it is playing in engaging Floridians in a much needed conservation and dialogue on the challenges issues facing agriculture, natural resources and other topics vital to the mission of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
As a former member of the faculty in IFAS – a 20 year period that I will cherish forever – I developed a good understanding of the important discovery, learning and engagement efforts being undertaken in IFAS. I realized that despite the value and importance of the research and innovations being undertaken in IFAS, the public voice was not always systematically invited to weigh in on some of the efforts that IFAS was seeking to undertake. The creation of the PIE Center was a conscientious effort on the part of the leadership of IFAS to ensure that the voices of Floridians would be heard and be used to guide the tripartite mission of IFAS.
Unlike in the past where university researchers and Extension faculty were labeled the “experts”, we have come to realize that local people have expertise as well – the expertise of life experiences, an understanding of the challenges they face in every day life, and the hopes and aspirations they have for the future of their families and communities. What the PIE Center has done — and will continue to do — is serve a a critical conduit for ensuring that IFAS and Floridians can co–learn and co-create a future that will advance the sustainability of of the agricultural sector and the broader community of which it is a part.
I hope you will join me in helping expand the valuable work of the PIE Center in the years ahead.