Despite having to cancel SOSS in 2020 and 2021, and all of the challenges this past year has thrown at all of us personally and professionally, we’ve been excited about the new community building and knowledge sharing opportunities that have grown out of our shift to online everything.

We launched several recurring member events including a book club, career exploration group, and monthly happy hour. The SOSP book club meets bi-weekly on Mondays at 6:30pm ET and our first book was Data Feminism, which details “a new way of thinking about data science and data ethics that is informed by the ideas of intersectional feminism.” We had several engaging discussions about this book and how we can work to apply its lessons on using data and science to promote justice and equity to our own work with seed and plant breeding. Our next book will be: The Color of Creatorship: Intellectual Property, Race, and the Making of Americans by Anjali Vats.

One of the challenges that we have heard over the past decade of SOSS is the need to both provide mentorship and create career opportunities in organic seed and plant breeding. Our career exploration group, started this past fall, is for members interested in developing knowledge, skills, relationships, and experiences needed to successfully transition to their next career stage by working with each other and mentors. We have had three meetings of the group thus far and have heard about several different career paths in academia, the seed industry, and non-profit sectors. The career explorations working group will continue to meet on the second Friday of each month at 12pm ET. We are always welcome to new members, whether you are looking for your next career move or able to provide mentorship.

In conjunction with NOFA-NY in January, we hosted our first of many monthly happy hours – thank you to all who joined! We hope that you can join us to meet new faces in the organic seed community and connect with old friends. Please consider joining us for future happy hours on the third Thursday of each month at 8pm ET.

Finally, in addition to our recurring member events, we are also hosting monthly open events to connect with, grow, and diversify the SOSP network in 2021. Our upcoming events include webinars, a ‘seed hack’ forum, and a graduate student research talk competition. We’re constantly adding to our list of programming, so please check the Events calendar.

While we missed seeing you all in person in 2020 (and will again in 2021), we are eager to plan for our 2022 SOSS gathering in West Virginia. We are excited to announce that we received an OREI Conference Grant which will enable us to offer nearly $25,000 in SOSS 2022 travel scholarships, diversify our presentation and engagement formats, and hire an administrative coordinator to help with organizing SOSS as well as SOSP management and relations with our fiscal sponsor, the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA). In particular, we are planning to focus on 1) Promoting networking among graduate students, and academic and industry professionals within the organic seed sector to facilitate post-graduation job opportunities for graduate students in the organic seed sector; 2) Communicating the latest organic plant breeding research and seed-based initiatives to SOSS participants and the broader organic seed community; 3) Initiating science-based discussions to identify organic breeding priorities and evaluate techniques; 4) Connecting organic seed and plant breeding research to broader scientific communities.

We truly hope that you join us for some or all of our upcoming events and if you have ideas for additional programming, please let us know!