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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation received a $50,000 donation Wednesday from the Florida Farm Bureau to help rebuild a learning center destroyed by fire in July 2011.
The school —part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences — is now halfway to the fundraising goal of $1.5 million for rebuilding the center, located on Lake Mize in the Austin Cary Forest northeast of Gainesville.
“We are proud to be a major contributor to the rebuilding of the Austin Cary learning center,” said John Hoblick, Florida Farm Bureau president. “Education is one facet of what Farm Bureau is all about, and this center will offer a quality learning environment as well as a place for university and community functions.”
Jack Payne, UF’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said “Florida Farm Bureau has always been a stalwart supporter of IFAS, and this is great example of achieving shared goals through our long-standing partnership.”
The school’s director, Tim White, called the donation a reflection of the partnership between Florida Farm Bureau and IFAS.
“And we hope that they will use the new building often for their events,” White said.
Officials said the fundraising goal may be met by year’s end, and they’d like to break ground on a new learning center by March 2013.
The rebuilt facility will give forestry faculty and students, as well as the public, a venue for enjoying and learning about the forest while attending meetings, classes or special events.
In May, Plum Creek Foundation gave $75,000 toward rebuilding the center. Other sources of funding have included companies and private donors.
Administrators have set a target of drawing 25,000 visitors each year to the center once it’s complete, including UF students, faculty, professionals, K-12 students, municipal and county government officials and the public.
Writer: Robert H. Wells, 352-273-3569; firstname.lastname@example.org
Contacts: Tim White, 352-846-0850; email@example.com
Jack Payne, 352-392-1971; firstname.lastname@example.org
John Hoblick, 352-374-1537
Photo caption: Florida Farm Bureau donated $50,000 to the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, on Wednesday. The donation will go toward the rebuilding of a learning center in the forestry school’s Austin Cary Memorial Forest. The original learning center was destroyed by fire in 2011. Pictured from left to right are: Joe Joyce, UF’s executive associate vice president for agriculture and natural resources; John Hoblick, president and CEO of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation; Jack Payne, UF’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources; Michael Dooner, president of Southern Forestry Consultants; Kevin Morgan, assistant to the president, Florida Farm Bureau; and Tim White, professor and director of the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation. July 18, 2012. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.