GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Don Sweat, a recently retired Florida Sea Grant marine extension agent, has been awarded the national William Q. Wick Visionary Career Leadership Award in recognition of his career achievements.
The award is given every other year by the extension program leaders of the 32 Sea Grant programs nationwide to recognize retired or soon-to-retire individuals for outstanding performance in extension programming or administration.
Sweat was the first marine extension agent hired by Florida Sea Grant in 1977. At his retirement he served a multicounty region on the state’s west coast, including Citrus, Hernando, Levy, Pasco and Pinellas counties.
Sweat worked in many fields, notably aquaculture, commercial fisheries and marine education. He played a role in founding The Pier Aquarium in St. Petersburg, changing state regulation of the marine sponge industry and reopening the recreational scallop fisheries off Citrus and Hernando counties.
“It’s difficult to begin to explain the impact and vision of a person that helped lay the foundation for the research and extension services provided through the Florida Sea Grant program on the west coast of Florida,” said Michael Spranger, associate director for Sea Grant extension and education.
“When Don started work, there was no template or path to follow. But his experience, talent and concerns regarding a variety of coastal issues, and his desire to help others, have forged an approach that still serves the entire Sea Grant program,” Spranger said.
The Florida Sea Grant program functions as part of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Writer: Dorothy Zimmerman, 352-392-2801, firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Sweat, right, a multicounty Florida Sea Grant marine extension agent, and John Stevely, a Manatee County marine extension agent, display Florida sponges in this undated file photo. Sweat, who retired in 2010, was honored in December with the William Q. Wick Visionary Career Leadership Award in recognition of his achievements.