IFAS News

University of Florida

Four with UF/IFAS ties to be inducted into Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, RECs

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences alumni, a producer who worked with UF/IFAS Extension and UF/IFAS Research and a contributor to the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation will be inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in February.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame Foundation have announced the four honorees. Each was born and raised on a Florida farm, and each has made outstanding contributions to Florida’s agriculture industry and mentored future leaders in the field. The UF/IFAS-related inductees are:

 

  • W. Bernard Lester, 78, was born in Havana, Florida. Lester graduated from UF CALS with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics, earning the latter degree in 1962. He earned a doctorate in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University.Lester returned to Florida and began his career as a research economist with the Florida Department of Citrus. He was eventually promoted to executive director in 1979. In 1986, he took a position with Alico, Inc. Board of Directors until 2005. During this time, he joined the Gulf Citrus Growers Association and was actively involved in all aspects of the association’s mission.“Bernie Lester has been a tireless advocate on behalf of Florida agriculture for more than four decades,” John Hoblick, president of the Florida Farm Bureau, wrote as part of his letter in support of Lester. “His knowledge of production agriculture and his excellent skills in leadership positions are recognized by anyone works with him…”

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Media Alert – UF/IFAS Extension, local farmers talk leafy greens

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Extension, IFAS

Who:    University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension faculty and local farmers

What:    The next meeting of the Florida Agricultural Network will include presentations by UF/IFAS Extension faculty, local farmer Ben Strong and Chef James Jackson of the Call Street Café on growing and marketing leafy greens. Presentations will be followed by dinner and networking.

“UF/IFAS Extension partnership with the Florida Agricultural Network fosters communication among farmers, and among farmers and UF/IFAS Extension agents,” said Jim Devalerio, agricultural agent with UF/IFAS Extension Bradford County. “The effort overlaps with our mission to provide relevant, research-based information to an ever-growing small farms client base.”

When: 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 30

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UF/IFAS Citrus REC starts centennial celebration

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Extension, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nearly a century ago, a group of Polk County citrus growers raised about $14,000 to buy land for a research station. Now, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center.

In 1917, UF/IFAS established the Citrus REC. Originally, only a few UF/IFAS scientists worked at the Lake Alfred site, then called the Citrus Experiment Station.

Today, the research center employs 250 people and is also home to the scientific research staff of the Florida Department of Citrus. It is the largest facility in the world devoted to a single commodity, citrus.

“The UF/IFAS Citrus REC has a long, proud tradition of outstanding science and outreach, and the faculty there show every day why the quality of work performed for the next 100 years will be as good or better than the first century at the facility,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

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UF CALS student selected as finalist in U.S. Presidential Management Fellows Program

Topic(s): CALS, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. –  A University of Florida student is eligible for fast-track appointment to government occupations as a finalist of the U.S. Presidential Management Fellows Program. The program is reserved for individuals across the nation with advanced degrees who have gone through a rigorous selection process to become finalists.

As a finalist, Natalie Nelson, an agricultural and biological engineering Ph.D. candidate, will have access to a jobs portal for the full 2017 year where she can apply to positions that interest her. Less than 7 percent of the applicants to the program received this honor.

“A lot of [the fellowship program] is higher level work with high impact,” said Nelson. “It’s very much an applied science. Most of the job portal has career offerings in law, health care administration, foreign diplomacy and similar positions. Science positions are a minority, but I plan to apply to all the jobs related to water. Regardless of if I get a job through this fellowship, I’m most interested in having meaningful impact through my work.”

The Presidential Management Fellows Program is administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and has existed for more than 30 years for the purpose of developing potential leaders in the U.S. government. The 2017 finalists represent 59 disciplines, 141 academic institutions and 41 veterans, according to the program website.

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UF/IFAS breeder develops genetic path to tastier tomatoes

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

 

Harry Klee

Video available here: http://bit.ly/2jAXzTi

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Some consumers crave tastier tomatoes than those they buy at the supermarket, so a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher led a global team of scientists that found chemical combinations for better flavor.

In a study published today in the journal Science, Harry Klee, a UF/IFAS professor of horticultural sciences, led an international research team that included scientists from China, Israel and Spain. Researchers identified chemicals that contribute to tomato flavor.

Step one was to find out which of the hundreds of chemicals in a tomato contribute the most to taste.

Then, Klee said, they asked, “what’s wrong with the modern tomatoes?” They lack sufficient sugars and volatile chemicals critical to better flavor. Those traits have been lost during the past 50 years because breeders have not had the tools to routinely screen for flavor, Klee said.

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UF/IFAS professor named to U.S. President’s Committee on National Medal of Science

Topic(s): Announcements, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Soil and Water Science

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Former President Barack Obama has named a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences renowned expert on tropical soils a member of the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science. Pedro Sanchez, a research professor in the soil and water sciences department, will serve his term until December 2019.

“Dr. Sanchez is not just an outstanding academic, but also a public servant who brings a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to this important role,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources.

Sanchez works with the UF/IFAS Institute of Sustainable Food Systems, which focuses on feeding a burgeoning worldwide population while conserving resources. Sanchez was director of the Agriculture and Food Security Center at The Earth Institute at Columbia University, where he worked from 2003 to 2016.  He served as director of the Millennium Villages Project from 2004 to 2010, and co-chair of the United Nations Millennium Project Task Force on Hunger from 2002 to 2005.

Sanchez is a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America, and American Association for the Advancement of Science.  He was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2003 and the World Food Prize in 2002.

Sanchez received a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from Cornell University.

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By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Sources: Jack Payne, 352-392-1971, jackpayne@ufl.edu

Pedro Sanchez, 352-294-3130, pedrosanchez@ufl.edu

Renowned agricultural scientist joins UF/IFAS Indian River research facility

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Departments, IFAS, Pests, RECs

FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Rhuanito “Johnny” Soranz Ferrarezi has joined the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to lead citrus horticulture research in the world’s premier grapefruit production region.

Ferrarezi brings more than 10 years of experience to his new position as assistant professor of citrus horticulture to the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce. He joins two additional new hires at UF/IFAS IRREC who will work as a team to assist growers as they manage citrus greening, or Huanglongbing (HLB), the industry’s most formidable pathogen.

“Dr. Ferrarezi is capable and exuberant about his work to manage crop production,” said Ronald Cave, UF/IFAS IRREC director. “He has demonstrated a fervent commitment to agriculture in his native Brazil, which is also one of the world’s most productive citrus regions, and we are confident his work in Florida will be significant.”

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Free webinars separate financial fact from fiction

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances, IFAS

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Internet is full of financial advice—and a lot of misinformation.

“There is a shortage of unbiased information on financial topics such as credit, debt and investment,” said Lisa Leslie, family and consumer sciences agent with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Hillsborough County.

Over the past six years, Leslie and other UF/IFAS experts have worked to fill this gap through free, live webinars that cover a range of financial themes.

“We’ve made thousands of educational contacts, and nearly 800 contacts last year alone,” Leslie said. “Webinars are held at lunch time so people can tune in during their lunch break at work. They are encouraged to ask our experts questions, and the online format lets us reach a lot of people at once.”

The program targets middle-income people, Leslie said, because these individuals have many financial decisions to make but don’t necessarily have the resources to hire a financial professional, Leslie explained. “By harnessing our faculty power throughout the state, we can help people make more informed decisions about their money and motivate them to set goals for the future,” she said.

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UF/IFAS study: Voters want to preserve forests, water

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Voters are likely to approve referenda for forest and water conservation in the eastern United States, including Florida, because demand for ecosystem protection is increasing, according to a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study.

“Florida voters have approved far more referenda, compared to other states, and on average support more expensive conservation programs,” said Melissa Kreye, a post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation and a study author.

For the study, Kreye and Damian Adams, an associate professor in the school, examined the results of 76 referenda that proposed to preserve rural land in 14 states from 1991 through 2013. The states were in the North and the South and included Florida, which held 26 such referenda during those 23 years.

This suggests that people are aware of changes in environmental quality due to the loss or conversion of forests and are willing to pay increasingly more to prevent further changes, researchers said.

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Irula tribesmen and detector dogs help UF/IFAS and FWC remove pythons in Florida

Topic(s): Announcements, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests, RECs, Research, Safety

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are working together on unique projects to target Burmese pythons in Florida. Two projects include using detection dogs and Irula tribesmen to help remove pythons from environmentally sensitive areas.

In their first eight days on the job, the Irula tribesmen — world-renowned snake catchers from India — removed 13 pythons, including four on their first visit to Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge on North Key Largo in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Traditionally, the main occupation of the Irula tribe has been catching snakes. They have successfully hunted and captured Indian pythons in their home province of Tamil Nadu.

“Since the Irula have been so successful in their homeland at removing pythons, we are hoping they can teach people in Florida some of these skills,” said Kristen Sommers, section leader of the FWC’s Wildlife Impact Management Section. “We are working with our partners to improve our ability to find and capture pythons in the wild. These projects are two of several new efforts focused on the removal of these snakes.”

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