“It’s really important that we’re good communicators to help people understand how agriculture is relevant to their daily life,” she said.

Ross also acknowledged that increasingly people are asking hard questions about the food system. In response to a student question about genetically modified organisms she said that area stands out as an area in need of good communication and more scientists involved in educating the public.

“What people are yearning for is transparency in the food system because they feel disconnected from it,” she said. “We need a continuum of business practices and farming systems and choices for consumers, which creates choices for farmers and market channels they want. It’s critically important for us to not just try to drive us to one way or another but allow for that diversity which will give us resiliency in our food system.”