The Southeast Produce Council held its first STEP-UPP Virtual Classroom within the SEPC Virtual Garden on Wednesday, April 28th. STEP-UPP, which is an acronym for Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, is SEPC’s flagship program giving retail and foodservice produce professionals a greater understanding of the industry through an emphasis on strategic orientation, personal leadership, and hands-on field experience.
The session, which began at 9am that morning and concluded at 3:30pm that afternoon, included a welcome by STEP-UPP Committee Co-Chairs Mike Roberts of Harps Food Stores and Gary Baker of Merchants Distributors, followed by an amazing series of virtual farm and facility tours hosted by Shenandoah Growers, Shuman Farms, Southern Valley, Fowler Packing, Giumarra Companies, and Chelan Fresh. Then after a break for lunch, the session resumed with an informative Farmers P&L segment by Adam Lytch of L&M Family of Companies. The session culminated with a testing period in which the 10 participating STEP-UPP Class members answered a series of questions drawn from the virtual tours followed by a review period to discuss the results and consolidate their learnings for the day.
“Our first Virtual Classroom day was a huge hit with this year’s class. I cannot say enough how great the content was that the selected companies provided. What was even better was the engagement the class had with each presenter and the hard questions they asked! I think this new session within the SEPC Virtual Garden was another great platform that the SEPC & STEP-UPP can add to educate and invest in the future leaders of our great industry.” ~ Mike Roberts, Director of Produce Operations for Harps Food Store
“The SEPC’s first Virtual Classroom was a great experience and day for our STEP-UPP class! I thought it was a great way for these produce professionals to gain knowledge and communicate with our vendor community who gave great presentations. The level of engagement from each student was a true testament on why these students were selected as members of STEP-UPP. I truly enjoyed the day and look forward to continuing to use this format in the future for other classes.” ~ Gary Baker, Sr. Director of Fresh at Merchants Distributors
The graduation ceremony for the STEP-UPP Class of 2021 will be held during Southern Innovations on September 10th in Savannah, Georgia. For more information about the STEP-UPP program as well as other SEPC educational offerings, please visit the Education page of the SEPC website.
SEPC’s upcoming Produce Inspection Training courses will be held within the SEPC Virtual Garden. The spring course will take place May 12, 2021. In order to receive your certificate of completion, you must complete both the spring and fall courses. Registration is complimentary for SEPC members.
The deadline to register is Monday, May 10, 2021.
Mr. Paul Manol of International Produce Training will conduct the training for the spring session. This course is 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 to learn more about the supplier side of the business.
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 awarded 74 scholarships ($148,000) in 2020 thanks to the dedication of our members.
The application deadline for the 2021 SEPC Member Scholarship was April 30, 2021 at 5pm EST. Recipients will be announced May 21, 2021.
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.
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.
The application can only be submitted online through our link which will be provided beginning May 17, 2021. The application deadline is July 2, 2021 at 5pm EST.