Calling his service with the Texas Plant Protection Association (TPPA) down through the years a great place for professional growth, Dr. Dan Fromme, Associate Professor & Extension Agronomist at the Texas AgriLife District 11 Extension Service Center in Corpus Christi, says networking with agriculture plant professionals has helped to open the doors to finding solutions to problems large and small that producers encounter in the field.

"Down through the years the Texas Plant Protection Association has provided a platform for professionals to come together to address the problems associated with plant production, and the more heads you have working on a problem the quicker the problem is going to get solved," Fromme told Southwest Farm Press.

His association with TPPA, a non-profit agricultural group, started in the early- to mid- nineties when he attended his first conference. It wasn't long until he became a presenter at subsequent conferences, which he says led to a long and profitable relationship with the organization and its many members.

According to the association, TPPA's underlying mission is to provide education through conferences and communication for all involved in production agriculture in Texas. Since the late 1980s the group has attracted plant professionals from science, education and industry to form a unique forum to address longstanding and new obstacles to productive crop production development.

In a journey of his own professional development, Fromme was asked to serve as chairman of the TPPA cotton section for two years in his early days with the group and quickly followed that assignment to become the poster board chairman. That was followed by terms as vice president and president of the organization.

"Serving in the association provides a great venue to increase your leadership abilities and responsibilities and further offers a real platform for professional growth," he said. "There is no better way than to bring common problems before a group of dedicated plant professionals who can put their heads together and develop strategies and solutions to the problems facing plant production."

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Fromme said producers are looking to universities and to plant protection industry leaders for answers to plant production problems, and the TPPA provides a platform to keep the many individuals and organizations involved in plant management and development "on the same page.

"To say it simply, because there's no better way to put it, the association provides the opportunity where university, research, teaching and extension come together with industry professionals to share information, which is a great benefit to the producers, the people we serve out there in the country," Fromme added.

He says TPPA is an ideal place to network with coworkers and gather information and come up with ideas that lead to joint research projects, and on a smaller and personal level provides the opportunity to strengthen relationships and builds a spirit of cooperation between professionals working on the same kinds of problems.

Calling it a great gathering point, he says the TPPA conferences offer education and opportunity to exchange the kind of information needed to move research forward.

"The industry continues to shrink in numbers. There are fewer industry personnel out there because of the merging of companies in recent years, and those companies that are active today seem to be downsizing and are faced with budget restraints. Even our land grant university systems are hard pressed for enough funding for research. Working through associations and professional organizations like the Texas Plant Protection Association provides the chance to open the doors of communication and share ideas to develop new strategies and better manage the task of plant production through cooperative efforts," he said.

Fromme believes agriculture is more important than ever with so many people coming into the world with prospects of many more in the near future. He says new regulations require planning and implementation.

"So as resources diminish and the industry grows, it remains critically important to bring together the various elements of education and industry to stay on top of the science necessary to support and even drive the industry forward," he said. "I believe that's what the TPPA has done and continues to strive to do to benefit agriculture in Texas."

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