New UF/IFAS Extension location ups visibility, opportunities

The University of Florida IFAS Extension Hernando County agents and staff are settling into their new office at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and Technology Center, and they couldn’t be happier with the change of scene.

Until recently, the UF/IFAS Extension office was housed with the Hernando County building department. This location was “far off the beaten trail,” said Stacy Strickland, the UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County director.

Both Strickland and the county administration agreed that the office needed a more prominent location. They started making plans in February to find the office a new address.

Strickland likes that the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and Technology Center is closer to residential communities and potential UF/IFAS Extension clientele.

The move benefits both the UF/IFAS Extension office and its new neighbors because these businesses now have a connection to the University of Florida, said Valerie Pianta, economic development manager for Hernando County.

For example, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County has connected one of the manufacturers in the technology center with the University of Florida’s engineering department, Strickland said.

The center houses 125 businesses that employ 2,500 people, said Valerie Pianta. “This is an excellent central location for Dr. Strickland and his staff for what they are doing today. We are interested in having that kind of partner at our tech center,” she said.

“We certainly remember our agricultural, 4-H, FCS, and urban horticulture roots, and intend to serve those clientele while looking at new opportunities to serve the citizens of Hernando County,” Strickland said, adding that he wants to take advantage of the new location when creating future programs.  “I think that we can have a new take on some of our traditional programs such as 4-H. We’ve discussed aviation camp for our 4-H youth,” he said.

“I think what we have to do is look into the future and satisfy the clientele that we may have in the future,” he said. “I think this is going to put us in a really good position to do that.”

Sources: Stacy Strickland, 352-754-4433, jsstick@ufl.edu

Valerie Pianta, 352-540-6400, vpianta@hernandocounty.us

Photo by MarsBars/iStock