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SEPC Announces 2016's Twelve Industry Members Selected for STEP-UPP and STARS Scholarship Winners

SEPC Announces 2016's Twelve Industry Members Selected for STEP-UPP and STARS Scholarship Winners

MILLEN, GA – The Southeast Produce Council has announced the 12 applicants that have been accepted to its Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals (STEP-UPP), as well as the winners of its Southeast Top Agricultural Recruits Scholarship (STARS) classes.

STEP-UPP, which continues to speak to the council’s key pillars of networking, education, and community, is going into its sixth year of continuing the education of select entry-to-mid-level produce industry members. According to a press release, the 12 chosen were selected based on their leadership experience, interest in the fresh produce industry, as well as having an active membership in the SEPC.

2016 SEPC STEP-UPP Class Members

Congratulations to the sixth STEP-UPP class:

  • Josh Rector, HARPS
  • Clark Roper, Piggly Wiggly
  • Eddie Riviera, Fresh Point
  • Robert Sabo, Florida Food Science
  • Lorena Lemus, MDI
  • Patrick Eisinger, Lowe’s Foods
  • James Coleman, Rouses
  • Ryan Ellison, Food City
  • Sean Hart, Kroger
  • Paul Williams, Associated Wholesale Grocers
  • Jill Marshall, Walmart
  • Matthew Forbes, Southeastern Grocers

SEPC added that the class will meet four times during the year to encourage discussion and shared education on several topics, including:

  • Strategic planning
  • Partnerships
  • Leadership
  • Networking
  • Field experience

The class will have their first onsite tour in April, visiting Southern Georgia SEPC member farms like Shuman Produce, Bland Farms, the Vidalia Onion Committee, L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms and more. The class will have its final meeting and graduation at the Southern Innovations Symposium in Williamsburg, VA this Sept 29 – Oct 1.

Additionally, the council’s STARS program recipients, which seeks to help upperclassmen in ag-related fields complete their degree and be better prepared for careers in the produce industry, have also been announced.

This year’s STARS scholarship recipients (two each from universities that partner with SEPC) will receive a $2,500 scholarship.

Congratulations to the following 2016 STARS scholarship recipients:

  • Courtney Jackson, Agricultural Communications at University of Georgia
  • Madison Hickey, Agricultural Communications at University of Georgia
  • Will Dezern, Plant Science at University of Florida
  • Eric J. Zunica, Plant Science at University of Florida
  • Jacob Barnes, Agricultural Education at Clemson University
  • McCauley Frierson, Agricultural Business at Clemson University
  • Daisy Anne Alberson, Plant Biology at North Carolina State
  • Mitchell Austin Wrenn, Agricultural Business at North Carolina State
  • Bayleigh Roussel, Plant and Soil Systems at Louisiana State University
  • Andrew Barocco, Environmental Horticulture at Louisiana State University

The scholarship recipients will attend the SEPC’s Southern Exposure Conference and Expo, in Hollywood, FL March 3-5, escorted by volunteer members of the SEPC to meet produce industry growers, shippers, retailers, and foodservice distributors. The event will also kick off the STEP-UPP 2016 semester.


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Southeast Produce Council

The Southeast Produce Council (SEPC) is a member-driven, non-profit association of more than 2,500 leaders from all facets...