This weekend, I participated in my first Pumpkin Regatta! Organized by Jim Nienhuis and Irwin Goldman of the UW-Madison Horticulture department, it pits students, kids, and sailors alike against each other in a rowing race of giant proportions. Specifically, giant pumpkins. Which you sit inside. And paddle.

Let me see: Boating, Squash, Competition, Horticulture, and Glory. This has just about everything I need to make a Saturday worthwhile. So I hopped down there to volunteer as the first challenger against the Hoofer Sailing Club’s racer, Bridget. Little did my professors (Jim and Irwin) know that I had won a dinghy race against all the other Sea Explorer ships back in high school, so I surprised them with a victory for Horticulture!*

I’m not in the Horticulture department, my lab is in Agronomy. But the PBPG program I’m in is interdepartmental – so if we were sailing logs I’m in Forestry, and if its pumpkins I’m in Horticulture. If someone straps a load of corn cobbs together to make a raft, I’m Agronomy all the way!

There were some cameras present at the event, recording video, still images, and interviewing people, including myself. I have no idea where any of that goofy footage of my soaked pumpkin-seeded self has gone, but the picture which you see here was uploaded to the Wisconsin Week. I think in my interview I said something about staging a coop to take over the organization of the race. Or maybe it was seizing opportunity at professorial retirement… or forcing retirement? I don’t know, I was on a squash high.

*I won the first race against a hoofer, but they recruited their rowing-trainer to compete in a later round, and I volunteered to meet him in the pumpkins. I lost that round. But hey, the cameras were gone by then!

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Karl Haro von Mogel

Karl Haro von Mogel serves as BFI’s Director of Science and Media and as Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. He has a PhD in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from UW-Madison with a minor in Life Sciences Communication. He is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar researching citrus genetics at UC Riverside.