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Education

The More You Learn, The More You Grow

We’ve put together a variety of educational programs and scholarships to help advance your career and nurture the next generation of produce luminaries. Whether you’re brushing up on the fundamentals or keeping up with the latest innovations in the industry, your SEPC membership offers plenty of opportunity to enrich your knowledge.

SEPC Links
SEPC Produce Inspection Training
SEPC University
SEPC Stars
SEPC STEP UPP

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

Short for “Learning, Interacting and Networking with Key players in the Supply chain,” LINKS is an educational leadership program where exceptional Southeastern growers and shippers can connect with Retail/Foodservice providers in the region in a non-competitive environment. By enhancing each side’s understanding of the retail supply chain, we can facilitate our mutual goals to better service consumers and drive Southeastern produce consumption. The SEPC will provide a meeting space at both Southern Exposure and Southern Innovations to participating Retail/Foodservice members who facilitate the program with invited Growers and Shippers.


LINKS Reservation Options for SEPC Retail/Foodservice members*

  • LINKS Meeting Platform Options
    • Onsite LINKS Meeting
    • Virtual LINKS Meeting within the SEPC Virtual Garden (available upon request)
  • LINKS Meeting Description Options
    • LINKS Meeting(s) with Grower/Shipper Companies
    • Internal Company Meeting
  • A La Carte Menu
    • A/V options
      • Projector/Screen
      • PA System
    • Food & Beverage Service (at reserving company's expense) 


REQUEST LINKS MEETING @ SOUTHERN EXPOSURE 2022

 

*LINKS Meeting Reservations must be submitted/approved through SEPC. If you would like to request a LINKS meeting within the SEPC Virtual Garden, outside of Southern Exposure or Southern Innovations, contact Anna Burch (anna@seproducecouncil.com).

 

A two-day course intended for quality control personnel, produce buyers, produce inventory control personnel, and other company associates involved in the receiving, handling, buying, and shipping of fresh produce. Mr. Paul Manol of International Produce Training will conduct the training sessions for the course. In order to receive your certificate of completion, you must complete both the spring and fall sessions.


Spring Session

  • May 12, 2021 within the SEPC Virtual Garden
  • To cover: Peppers, Stone Fruit Combo, Blueberries, Strawberries, Potatoes, Sweet Corn, Table Grapes, Mangos, Squash

Fall Session

  • October 6, 2021 within the SEPC Virtual Garden
  • To cover: Apples, Pears, Cucumbers, Cauliflower, Tomatoes, Oranges, Grapefruit, Lettuce and Romaine, Cantaloupe, Onions

REGISTER SOON 


“I would like to thank the SEPC for organizing the recent produce training seminar in Tampa. It was a very productive and informative experience and, even though I’ve been in the produce business for a long time, I still come away learning new ways to grade and execute quality checks.”

Keith Vigue, US Foods

REGISTRATION FOR THE 2022 SPRING SESSION WILL OPEN APRIL 4, 2022.
 

Personalized Training Sessions

Southeast Produce Council and International Produce Training have partnered to offer onsite produce inspection training. This class is a personalized training at your facility for your associates. This will be a specialized training that will adapt to your company’s grade standards and go further into depth with grading and standard definitions. The classes can be tailored to a one-, two-, or three-day session depending on your preference.


  • Pricing for SEPC Members*
    • One-Day Session – $5,500.00
    • Two-Day Session – $7,250.00
    • Three-Day Session – $9,400.00

*Pricing includes hotel/airfare/meals for trainer.


If interested please contact us at (877)720-SEPC or info@seproducecouncil.com.

Curated annually and offered throughout the year (including at our Southern Exposure and Southern Innovations conferences), SEPC University offers a variety of sessions to keep members abreast of the latest trends in the produce industry. Scholarships are also provided to further the education of current and future produce professionals.

 

Southern Exposure 2021: Session Videos

 

Southern Innovations 2021: Session Videos



 

STEP-UPP gives Retail and Foodservice produce professionals a greater understanding of the industry through an emphasis on strategic orientation, personal leadership, and hands-on field experience. Twelve (12) individuals are selected through an application and interview process based on leadership experience and interest in developing a career in fresh produce. Potential candidates must be active members of SEPC.

PROGRAM GOALS


Strategic Orientation

This program will broaden the participants’ strategic view of the fresh produce industry through supply chain overviews, collaborative business planning, category development, and key performance indicator discussions.


Personal Leadership & Networking

This program focuses on personal development and relationship building. The program may include leadership styles, managing for performance, and negotiation strategy. Each program segment will also include opportunities to meet and network with other SEPC industry members.


Field Experience

Here we put theory to the test by taking participants into the field and on plant tours to gain hands-on experience in how to partner with growers more effectively. A short course in produce inspection will also be included.


APPLY NOW 

STEP-UPP CLASS TESTIMONIALS


“The word that pops into my head that best describes the overall experience is family. We seemed to all instantly hit it off.”

            ~ Lee Butram, AWG, STEP-UPP Class of 2018

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have been a member with STEP-UPP. I gained invaluable experience by touring farms, talking to suppliers and networking with industry leaders and experts. Years later, I still use what I learned to make better buying decisions for my company.”

             ~ Leslie Gallegos, Fresh Point Tampa, STEP-UPP Class of 2012


THE STEP-UPP CLASS OF 2021



2021 STEP-UPP Class Schedule

  • Spring 2021
    • April 28: Virtual Classroom within the SEPC Virtual Garden
      • 9:00am to 9:10am Welcome/Overview of the day

        9:10am to 9:30am Shenandoah (video/live recap)

        9:30am to 9:50am Shuman Farms (video/live recap)

        9:50am to 10:10am Southern Valley (video/live recap)

        10:10am to 10:20am Break (remaining live with countdown timer)

        10:20am to 10:40am Fowler Packing (video/live recap)

        10:40am to 11:00am Giumarra (video/live recap)

        11:00am to 11:20am Chelan (video/live recap)

        11:20am to 12:30pm Live Q&A

        12:30pm to 1:30pm Lunch

        1:30pm to 2:15pm Farmers P&L w/ Adam Lytch

        2:15pm to 3:00pm Test Period

        3:00pm to 3:30pm Test Results and Closing Remarks

  • Summer 2021 [schedule TBD]
  • Fall 2021 
    • Class graduation ceremony during Southern Innovations 2021


2019 STEP-UPP Team Building Activity

 

SEPC Stars

Our STARS (Southeast Top Agricultural Recruits Scholarship) program is available to outstanding students majoring in agriculture at Southeast-based land grant universities. Our goal is to recruit top students for job opportunities in the Southeast produce industry.

 

Ideal candidates are rising seniors in undergraduate majors related to the growing and marketing of produce and related products who also hold a minimum 3.2 GPA or higher. Additionally, it is preferred that students have demonstrated an interest in growing and/or marketing of produce. Scholarship recipients will be expected to attend the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure conference & expo. The Southeast Produce Council will cover hotel and travel expenses to this event. The scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to meet with hundreds of produce industry grower/shipper members as well as the nation’s leading retailers and foodservice distributors.

STARS Class of 2021

Katie Shadell, Auburn University

Katie Shadell

Bio

Resume

Auburn University logo
Zach Morgan, Auburn University

Zach Morgan

Bio

Resume

Auburn University logo
Grace Hassell, Clemson University

Grace Hassell

Bio

Resume

Clemson University logo
Ross Good, Clemson University

Ross Good

Bio

Resume

Clemson University logo
Dean Jolly, Louisiana State University

Dean Jolly

Bio

Resume

Louisiana State University logo
Wyatt Hodge, Louisiana State University

Wyatt Hodge

Bio

Resume

Louisiana State University logo
Lindsey Stallings, North Carolina State University

Lindsey Stallings

North Carolina State University logo
Renea Austin, North Carolina State University

Renea Austin

Resume

North Carolina State University logo
Cameron Stake, University of Florida

Cameron Stake

Bio

Resume

University of Florida logo
Carson Ostrum, University of Florida

Carson Ostrum

Bio

Resume

University of Florida logo
Kaitlyn Hart, University of Georgia

Kaitlyn Hart

Bio

Resume

University of Georgia logo
Kendall Busher, University of Georgia

Kendall Busher

Bio

Resume

University of Georgia logo
Gordon Brockington, Virginia Tech

Gordon Brockington

Bio

Resume

Virginia Tech logo
Grace Monger, Virginia Tech

Grace Monger

Bio

Resume

Virginia Tech logo

Southern Exposure Networking Highlights

 

STARS & STEP-UPP Dinner

Mix and mingle with some of SEPC’s top produce professionals

STARS Breakfast

Join fellow STARS students for breakfast with an informative guest speaker from the industry

STARS Cocktails & Careers

Interview with SEPC member companies seeking fresh employees

Testimonials

“This past weekend at Southern Exposure was one of the highlights of my college career. It was really enjoyable to meet and connect with so many industry professionals.”

~ Maxwell Cavassa, Auburn University, STARS Class of 2020

 

“Being able to attend Southern Exposure 2019 definitely opened my eyes to the endless career opportunities in the industry sector, and the overall STARS experience has had a positive impact in my career as a food microbiologist.”

~ Erika Estrada, Virginia Tech, STARS Class of 2019

Participating Universities

Please get in touch with the respective contact at any of the below universities for more information on the STARS program.

Auburn University logo

Jordan Moseley

Development Officer

 

College of Agriculture
Auburn University
100 Corner Hall
Auburn, AL 36849
(334) 844-3472

Clemson University logo

Margaret Owens

Senior Director of Development

 

College of Agriculture, Forestry & Life Sciences
Clemson University
101 Barre Hall
Clemson, SC 29634-0202
(864) 276-7245

Louisiana State University logo

Amanda L. Martin

Assistant Dean Recruitment & Student Development

 

College of Agriculture
Louisiana State University
146 Martin D. Woodin Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70830
(225) 578-2266

North Carolina State University logo

Robin Clements

Student Services Specialist

 

CALS Academic Programs Office
North Carolina State University
Campus Box 7642
111 Patterson Hall
Raleigh, NC 27695-7642

University of Florida logo

 Taylor Wood

Assistant Director of Development

 

UF/IFAS Advancement
University of Florida
Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences
1001 McCarty Hall
PO Box 110170
Gainesville, FL 32611-0170
(706) 542-1611

University of Georgia logo

Dana Nash

Administrative Manager

 

UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences
University of Georgia
Office of Academic Affairs
102 Conner Hall
Athens, GA 30602
(706) 542-1611

Virginia Tech logo

Cynthia Beatty

Fiscal Administrator, Academic Programs

 

Virginia Tech
Office of Academic Programs
175 West Campus Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061
(540) 231-9671

SCHOLARSHIPS

SEPC Member Scholarship

SEPC Member Scholarship

Recipients of the SEPC Member Scholarship will each receive a scholarship of $1,000 towards their educational goals for the upcoming school year. The SEPC is proud to have awarded 53 scholarships ($53,000) in 2021 thanks to the dedication of our members.

SEPC Member Scholarship FAQs

Applicant must be/have a parent or grandparent who is a corporate member in good standing as of May 1st of the current year [Member has been on the SEPC membership roster for at least 12 months and has personally attended at least one event (Southern Exposure and/or Southern Innovations) within the last 12 months]. Immediate family members may apply if the active member is part of a corporate membership. Members who have individual memberships are not eligible. 


Each applicant must be enrolled as a full-time student (minimum 12 semester hours).

  • College or high school transcript
  • SEPC Member Name and Member #
  • College/University Student ID #, current major and GPA (minimum 3.0 GPA required)
  • College/University Address where the scholarship check will be sent
  • SAT and/or ACT scores
  • Enrollment verification from College/University
  • Two (2) Letters of Recommendation
  • Community Involvement
  • 500-word minimum and 1000-word maximum essay
    • 2021 Essay Topic:

      2020 has been a very trying year for all of us. Yet through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have gained valuable insight into SEPC’s theme for 2021 – Produce: Powered by People. We have seen how People in Produce have brought some positive lights to these dark times.   We know that everyone can make a difference in their job, community, church, school, or home. One person can bring a little light into the dark world we have lived in for this last year. Most of us have had a lot of time on our hands this year to think about things that we can do when the world gets back to some form of normal.

      Explain how you could do something to make a positive difference in this new world we are living in. It could be something you have done in the past and plan on continuing now.  

The SEPC scholarship application can only be submitted online through our link which will be provided beginning March 14, 2022. The application deadline is April 29, 2022 at 5pm EST.

Members of the SEPC Scholarship Committee

*All judges will be impartial when judging each redacted essay. All participant names and company references will be redacted before judging. If any judge has a personal relationship with any participant, that judge will be asked to recuse himself or herself from judging and will be replaced.

First preference is given to new applicants; however, you may apply for additional scholarship awards. You will need to provide transcripts from the university you are attending along with proof of enrollment. All repeat scholarship recipients must maintain a 3.0 GPA to be eligible each year.

Recipients are announced on May 20, 2022.

Congratulations to our 2021 SEPC Member Scholarship recipients!

Kade Adams

Veronica Baker

Gary Baker, III

Austin Belknap

Kennedy Belknap

Tyler Boyette

Hunter Boyette

Brayden Browder

James Brown

Ani Brown

Thiago Campbell

Savannah Cook

Dylan Daniels

Tahlia DiLaudo

Brian Dunleavy

Corey Earwood

Jackson Edmondson

Elizabeth Fleming

Maxwell Fuehrer

Michael Fuehrer

Victoria Garrett

Sydney Hahn

Ellen Hendrix

Lyndey Higham

Grayson Johnston

Tyler Koran

John McCormick

Savannah Millburn

Gabriel Mudger

Maxwell Mudger

Jacob Neill

Kaylee Nelsen

Haidyn Owens

Claire Paivarinta

Heather Pierce

Haley Pilcher

Julia Rooke

Clark Roper

Adrian Sanabria-Padilla

Mariana Sanabria- Padilla

Carter Schwalls

Lillian Scott

Chapman Shuman

Luke Shuman

Brady Slate

Brittany St George

Connor Strady

Robert Temples

Philip Temples

Emma Thomerson

Carlos Visconti

Brady Wilkins

Sarah Wooten

Vorhees Vision Logo

Vorhees Vision Scholarship

The Vorhees Vision Scholarship was created to reward the achievements of young individuals who demonstrate a true entrepreneurial spirit in their lives as they pursue their educational goals. This scholarship is named in honor of the late Terry L. Vorhees, founder and first Executive Director of the Southeast Produce Council. Because of his vision and efforts, the Southeast Produce Council became and remains one of the best resources in the produce industry today.

 

Details

One college-aged student (graduating high school senior or current college student) will receive a one-time scholarship of $7,500 to their enrolling college/university.

 

Congratulations to our 2021 Vorhees Vision Scholarship recipient!

Emily Lessard

Daughter of Dave and Alisa Lessard | The GIANT Company

 

 

Read Emily’s Winning Essay

Vorhees Vision Scholarship FAQs

Each applicant must be/have a parent or grandparent who is a corporate member in good standing as of January 15th of the current year [Member has been on the SEPC membership roster for at least 12 months and has personally attended at least one event (Southern Exposure and/or Southern Innovations) within the last 12 months]. Immediate family members may apply if the active member is part of a corporate membership. Members who have individual memberships are not eligible.


Each applicant must be enrolled as a full-time student (minimum 12 semester hours).

  • Grade Point Average- Minimum 3.0
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation from high school and/or college staff, clergy, community leaders, etc.
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • Leadership and community service involvement
  • 1000-word minimum essay
    • Essay Topic:

      2020 has been a very trying year for all of us. Yet through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have gained valuable insight into SEPC’s theme for 2021 – Produce: Powered by People. The produce industry has been deemed essential during this pandemic, and whether companies are serving from the fields or delivering to our tables we have all felt the tremendous impact.

      Explain how you have witnessed essential workers within our industry, or from your own personal experience, who have risen above the challenges to make a difference in the communities we serve.

The application can only be submitted online through our link which will be provided beginning November 29, 2021. The application deadline is January 14, 2022 at 5pm EST.

Members of the SEPC Scholarship Committee

*All judges will be impartial when judging each redacted essay. All participant names and company references will be redacted before judging. If any judge has a personal relationship with any participant, that judge will be asked to recuse himself or herself from judging and will be replaced.

The scholarship will be awarded February 14, 2022. One (1) $7,500.00 scholarship will be awarded to the scholarship recipient’s enrolling College/University.

SEPC Logo

Nolan Family Foundation Scholarship

This scholarship was established to memorialize Jim Nolan, who took an ethical stand on a business matter at great cost to himself. As a result of his professional ethics, Nolan was ostracized by colleagues and remained isolated in his efforts to maintain moral integrity in his workplace. It would have taken only a few others with the courage to speak out to change the course of events. Tragically, Jim died before the trial that finally vindicated his actions by a judge and a jury of 13 who found in his favor. Our sincere thanks to Theresa Nolan for providing this scholarship to the members of the Southeast Produce Council. She is a lifetime member of the SEPC and is always available to lend a helping hand wherever needed.

 

Details

One college-aged student (graduating high school senior or current college student) will receive a one-time scholarship of $5,000 to their enrolling college/university. The scholarship will be awarded based on GPA (3.0 or higher), references and quality of essay.

 

Congratulations to our 2021 James and Theresa Nolan Family Foundation Scholarship recipient!

Brayden Browder

Son of Jon Browder | Pioneer Growers

 

Nolan Family Foundation Scholarship FAQs

Each applicant must be/have a parent or grandparent who is a corporate member in good standing as of July 1st of the current year [Member has been on the SEPC membership roster for at least 12 months and has personally attended at least one event (Southern Exposure and/or Southern Innovations) within the last 12 months]. Immediate family members may apply if the active member is part of a corporate membership. Members who have individual memberships are not eligible.


Each applicant must be enrolled as a full-time student (minimum 12 semester hours).

  • Official college or high school transcript
  • SEPC Member Name and Member #
  • College/University Student ID #, current major and GPA
  • College/University Address where the scholarship check will be sent
  • SAT and/or ACT scores
  • Enrollment verification from College/University
  • Two (2) Letters of Recommendation
  • Community Involvement
  • 500 - 1000 word essay
    • Essay Topic on the Importance of Ethics: Describe a situation where doing the right thing was difficult, but you did so in spite of the cost; also include your thoughts on ethical lessons learned from your experience and how these lessons can be applied to corporate America.

The application can only be submitted online through our link which will be provided beginning May 16, 2022. The application deadline is July 1, 2022 at 5pm EST.

Members of the SEPC Scholarship Committee

*All judges will be impartial when judging each redacted essay. All participant names and company references will be redacted before judging. If any judge has a personal relationship with any participant, that judge will be asked to recuse himself or herself from judging and will be replaced.

The recipient will be announced August 1, 2022.