Emerging industries need skilled manpower to operate. Sometimes employers begin to expand before they can hire qualified staff.
This was the case with many employers in the pharmaceutical industry, which included crops such as hemp, cava, and cranberry. The faculty of two Florida University Colleges have worked together to meet that need in a new course.
The course, developed by UF / IFAS College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and UF Pharmacy College, offers a wealth of skills to produce new and fresh crops. Laboratories teach students the skills of reproduction, germination, extraction and analysis, and everything in between.
“Employers in emerging industries are struggling to find workers to help herbal products and pharmaceuticals,” said Brian Pearson, an assistant professor at UF / IFAS, who co-authored and taught the course. “There is a huge gap in the potential staff in this skill set, and it is affecting the producers. This course will teach students from the existing set of skills available.
Guided by industry demand and student demand, Pearson and UF College of Medicine Chris McKardy collaborated to establish and teach the course. The partnership provides expertise in both herbal products and the pharmaceutical industry.
“UF is in a unique position to offer such a course because UF Health and UF / IFAS are all under the same umbrella, which is a great strength,” McCurdy said. “Being able to provide horticultural and agricultural training is a possibility in any agricultural program, but to increase our understanding of medicinal properties, it is a unique opportunity for compounds that take on biological activity in animals and / or people.
Students enrolled in the course vary in their interests and goals but are motivated by the content of the course and the interaction with many professional teachers.
Danielle Perez Lugons, a postgraduate student in horticulture medicine, says: “I believe that herbal medicine has a great deal of untapped potential in providing alternative therapies, especially those that do not respond to conventional therapies.
“I look forward to working with individuals who are recovering from substance abuse. Although prescribing medicines is not the job of a gardener, I believe any understanding of how plants provide these additional therapeutic benefits and how their secondary metabolism interacts with the human body will facilitate better understanding and communication with my clients. . ”
Another student – a current graduate and a master’s student – took this course to help him achieve his future business goals.
“My goal is to one day create a restaurant centered around herbs to help people eat a little healthier,” said Jansen Mitchell Gedwed. “I would also like to use this knowledge to assist in the cultivation of medicinal plants and herbal products in conjunction with community gardens and other community-based organizations.
While this course may be new, the research partnership between UF / IFAS and the College of Pharmacy is well established.
The two groups have previously collaborated on projects such as chemistry research and plant-based chemicals pharmacology.
These transcendental research projects will help scientists understand the best ways to produce medicinal plants for the benefit of farmers and consumers and ultimately the consumers who buy these plants.
“This is the happiest time of my career,” McCurdy said. “This work with UF / IFAS will give us a better understanding of how to grow these plants as a crop, which will benefit the farmers in our region and treat the people in our area who need this plant. It may just be the tip of the iceberg. “
Crop diversity is good for farmers and sometimes helps to replace other crops that are at a loss or at a lower price due to market fluctuations.
“Florida has seen a decline in long-term heritage crops and their ability to support these emerging emerging industries could help shape the production line,” Pearson said.
Special thanks to Roseville Pharmaceuticals and Agrististars, for their students’ experience in the industry and their plant products in the laboratory.
“We truly appreciate the industry support we have received for this course,” Pearson said. “Students have done research, given the UF / IFAS Extension to researchers from all their research. All three land donation missions have worked together to make this course a great success.”
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