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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida honored distinguished College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) supporters and outstanding students at the 10 a.m. fall graduation ceremony on Dec. 17. Two of three Outstanding Four-Year Scholars were CALS students, and two of three Outstanding Student Leaders were CALS students.
Outstanding Four-Year Scholars – Jeanelle Brisbane and Kelly Schwanebeck
Outstanding Student Leaders – Brooke Cicero and J. Clay Hurdle
Outstanding Four-Year Scholars were chosen by a UF selection committee that considered grade point average, curriculum, academic awards, research projects or honors thesis. The students began at UF as freshmen and have minimal work conducted at other institutions. Outstanding Student Leader awards were given by the UF Alumni Association and chosen by a selection committee that considers the quality and scope of leadership activities, university-wide leadership, experience, special awards and recommendations of faculty, staff and students.
“There’s a lot of pride for me as being a part of CALS,” said Outstanding Student Leader award recipient J. Clay Hurdle. “I’m excited to continue my education with the IFAS/CALS department of agricultural education and communication master’s program. My goal is to work as a university faculty member and, eventually, university president. If I can dedicate myself to serving students, that would be a journey well spent.”
Distinguished Achievement Award – Louis “Red” Larson Sr.
Larson’s first job as a Miami Daily News paperboy enabled him to purchase his first cow. He worked on weekends and during summers to hand-milk cows for a local dairyman. In 1947 he began his own dairy farm and now Larson Dairy, Inc. is one of the largest dairy operations in the Southeast. Larson became an early adopter of improved feeding, housing and milking methods, which led to a close working relationship with UF/IFAS.
“[Larson’s] farm is our laboratory for dairy science and the UF veterinary school,” said UF/IFAS animal sciences professor Peter J. Hansen. “A lot of people have been able to complete their degrees because they have been able to conduct experiments at Larson Dairy. The Dairy Science building and my teaching position are both named after him, and I’m very proud of that.”
Among his many accomplishments, Larson was the only Floridian to serve as president of the National Milk Producers Federation, helped develop present-day milk marketing techniques, and was elected to the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame and Dairy Hall of Fame. He was named an Honorary Alumnus by the UF Alumni Association in 2006.
Stephen C. O’Connell Distinguished Service Award – Marjorie Reitz Turnbull
Marjorie Reitz Turnbull has dedicated more than 40 years of service to the state of Florida in elected, appointed and volunteer positions. She served as a Leon County commissioner (1988-1994), representative of Leon County in the Florida House (1994-2000), and member of the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University Board of Trustees, among many other boards of arts, health and education organizations.
“[Turnbull] and her sister would attend the student induction ceremony for the Reitz Scholars Program, which I used to run, and she would spend time talking with the student leaders,” said UF/IFAS Associate Vice President Jeanna Mastrodicasa. “She was named UF Outstanding Woman Graduate in 1962 and was selected for prestigious honorary organizations Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi at a time when there were few women attending UF.”
Turnbull earned her undergraduate degree in political science from the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and continues to honor her father J. Wayne Reitz’s legacy at UF. She has endowed a fund for the J. Wayne Reitz Medal of Excellence Award given to an outstanding senior in CALS to honor her father’s service as provost of agriculture (1949-1955) and president of UF (1955-1967).
Caption: Pictured left to right: J. Clay Hurdle and Brooke Cicero (recipients of the Outstanding Student Leader Award), CALS Dean Elaine Turner, and Kelly Schwanebeck (recipient of the Outstanding Four-Year Scholar Award). UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones.
By: Dana Edwards, 352-392-1963, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: J. Clay Hurdle, email@example.com
Peter J. Hansen, 352-359-5753, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanna Mastrodicasa, 352-392-1971, email@example.com
The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) administers the degree programs of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is to deliver unsurpassed educational programs that prepare students to address the world’s critical challenges related to agriculture, food systems, human wellbeing, natural resources and sustainable communities. Visit the CALS website at cals.ufl.edu, and follow CALS on social media platforms at @ufcals.