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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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.
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.
By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, email@example.com
Sources: Jack Payne, 352-392-1971, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pedro Sanchez, 352-294-3130, email@example.com
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) student who studies improvements to production and quality of grapes has been named UF’s second Cultivator at the 2017 Farm Foundation Round Table.
Crystal Conner, a plant science major, was one of six college students across the nation recognized as rising leaders in agriculture. The students shared their research during the conference hosted the week of Jan. 4 in Irvine, California.
“It was such an honor to first be selected by CALS Dean Elaine Turner, and then to secondly be chosen by the Farm Foundation Round Table to present my research,” Conner said. “I began this project because I wanted to learn more about tissue culture and its future possibilities. I never imagined that others would gravitate toward the possibilities of its impact at such a fast rate.”
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Hugh English, a key figure in the citrus industry known for his many contributions to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has been honored as the 2016 UF/IFAS Champion.
English was recognized Dec. 1 at the Gulf Citrus Growers Association luncheon in Fort Myers, Florida. The UF/IFAS Champion Award honors those who strengthen the organization’s ability to excel in teaching, research and Extension, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources.
“Hugh is a giant of the citrus industry and a great friend to UF/IFAS,” Payne said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Renowned University of Florida genomics and photobiology researcher Kevin Folta has been named 2016 Pro Farmer Ag Person of the Year. Folta is professor and chair of the horticulture sciences department at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“Dr. Folta has been a leader in the fight against the anti-GMO movement for years,” said Chip Flory, Pro Farmer editorial director. “He was a natural choice for his leadership and many years of education on biotechnology, and for being committed to sharing that knowledge with the general public.”
Folta publishes a website and podcast titled “Talking Biotech” (www.talkingbiotechpodcast.com). Its purpose is to “help connect the public to current science and technology and let scientists tell the stories of how science can help our farmers, industrialized world consumers, the environment and the developing world,” Folta said. “The hope is this resource can explain how new tools can improve food security, reduce poverty and improve agricultural and medical practices.”
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Matthew Johnston, chief executive officer for international vegetable seed company HM.CLAUSE, has been named 2016 Volunteer of the Year by the UF/IFAS SHARE Council, a volunteer leadership board that works to secure sources of private support for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Johnston was honored Dec. 12 at a dinner event held in downtown Gainesville at the Old Gainesville Depot Building at Depot Park.
“Matthew is a valued partner in UF/IFAS’ mission to improve the lives of all Floridians through science,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources. “He has shown a strong commitment to our institution, its people and its future, and this award celebrates that friendship.”
During his acceptance, Johnston stated, “Florida is in a unique position to advance agriculture both in the state and around the world. I am grateful for the partnership with UF/IFAS and look forward to a bright future filled with opportunities.” Johnston was instrumental in securing financial support from HM.CLAUSE and parent company, Limagrain, for the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ Challenge 2050 Project. The project aims to find ways to meet the agricultural and natural resource needs of 9.6 billion people, the projected global population of 2050.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has hired esteemed educator and researcher Terrell “Red” Baker as the new director of the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation. He begins his new position on April 1.
Baker is currently the chair of the forestry department at the University of Kentucky and the James Graham Brown Endowed Professor of Forestry. He replaces Tim White, who has retired.
“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Baker, who has a rich background in Extension, research and teaching,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “Dr. Baker brings a wealth of knowledge that can only help UF’s program in forestry, fisheries and geomatics become even stronger.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – College was never a thought in Leigh Ann Skurupey’s mind as a high school student. Now, she’ll be graduating this week with a doctorate in animal sciences.
The University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) graduate student began her higher education journey in an effort to change people’s minds about her abilities. Skurupey has dyslexia, a learning disability that makes learning to read and interpret words, letters or symbols difficult. School has always been harder for her as she works daily to overcome her reading challenges.
Skurupey joined 458 UF/CALS students who graduated at 4 p.m. on Dec. 16, and 10 a.m. on Saturday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
As a high school student, Skurupey overheard her mother telling her younger brother he needed to work on improving his grades. Skurupey’s brother asked why their mother didn’t scold her for lower grades, to which their mother replied, “she’s just not quite smart enough.”
“Once I heard her say that, it was my only reason why I went to school – to prove her wrong,” Skurupey said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) students and UF/IFAS faculty recently took home several awards at the 41st International Plant Propagators’ Society (IPPS) southern region conference. IPPS is a global network of plant production professionals involved in horticulture research and education.
“It’s important for our students to attend and participate in professional conferences, such as IPPS, because they learn from top experts in the horticulture fields,” said Sandra Wilson, UF/IFAS environmental horticulture professor. “Our students engage in important experiential learning opportunities such as conversing with professors and other experts who have written these students’ college textbooks.”
The following students, faculty and staff received awards at the conference:
Sidney B. Meadows Award of Merit
- Mack Thetford, environmental horticulture associate professor at UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center.
The award recognizes an outstanding individual for his or her contributions to the nursery industry and plant propagation in the Southern region of North America; it is the highest honor bestowed upon a member.