Welcome Letter from the Southeastern Branch President

Southeastern Branch of the ESA:

I am excited to welcome you to our upcoming annual meetingBuilding upon a Tradition of Innovation, Collaboration, and Adaption” in Little Rock, Arkansas from March 13-15, 2023. Nicole Benda, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services-Division of Plant Industry and Cory Penca, USDA-APHIS-PPQ, are planning an excellent program and welcome your symposium submissions! For 2023, we have two outstanding plenary speakers: Ron Smith, Auburn University; and Tom Kuhar, Virginia Tech University. Both of our plenary speakers have a breadth of knowledge in crop-based entomology research and student mentoring. I look forward to learning from our esteemed colleagues as we consider the past and future needs for collaborative opportunities in the Southeastern Branch.

The Southeastern Branch has always been adaptable, flexible, and an outstanding venue for our graduate and undergraduate students to present their research. How many former Southeastern Branch students are still connected to ESA through the hospitality received at our regional meeting? I remember my first Southeastern Branch meeting as an undergraduate student traveling from the University of Georgia to Biloxi, Mississippi in a van with graduate students and professors during the year 1996. I have since attended most of the Southeastern Branch meetings.

Graduate and undergraduate student support and mentoring has been the lifeblood of the Southeastern Branch for decades. For this reason, I am pleased to introduce you to a new registration scholarship opportunity that seeks to support first-time and underrepresented student attendees at our conference. 

Five full student registration scholarships will be awarded for the 2023 meeting and application information is available online

My deepest thanks to Southeastern Branch Governing Board Representative and Executive Committee Member Karla Addesso of Tennessee State University for her leadership in developing the guidelines for the scholarship. Other Southeastern Branch Executive Committee also provided extensive feedback for the guidelines: Michelle Samuel-Foo, USDA-NIFA, Past-President; Kevin Chase, Bartlett Tree Experts, President-Elect; Brett Blaauw, University of Georgia, Secretary-Treasurer; JC Chong, Clemson University, Member-at-Large; Kaushalya Amarasekare, Tennessee State University, Member-at-Large; Chuck Klein, BASF.

I am also extremely grateful to Ben Thrash, USDA-ARS, for leading our local arrangements efforts and the Little Rock, Arkansas, area has so much to offer. More details will be forthcoming, but opportunities are planned for a fly-fishing excursion. Further to this optional registration option, several hiking opportunities are nearby, and the Clinton Presidential Library is always a well-received educational visit.

The Southeastern Branch is dependent upon a strong network of volunteers. I have only mentioned some of the many and very important, critical leaders and volunteers for the upcoming meeting. More of our volunteers will be mentioned and recognized at our conference. The service and commitment that you provide to the Southeastern Branch is important. We are a family-style network and community, and everyone is important. 

I am humbled and honored to serve as your 2022-2023 President and community leader/facilitator as we return to our second in-person meeting, and our first mainland in-person post-pandemic conference. I understand the professional and personal challenges that many of you have encountered over the last two years. I look forward to continuing to rebuild a robust southeastern regional network of research, teaching, and extension connections with you. Please feel free to reach out to me with any Southeastern Branch questions. See you in Little Rock, Arkansas!

Amanda Hodges
SEB-ESA President, 2022-2023
University of Florida, DPM Director

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