vector cropped

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Experts agree that one effective way to protect yourself against mosquitoes —and the diseases they can transmit — is to wear mosquito repellent. But for homeless people, getting access to this kind of protection can be difficult.

In response, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science Extension Hernando County has launched Operation Skeeter Stop. Organizers will collect donated containers of mosquito repellent and distribute them to the Hernando County homeless community.

The program is accepting donations until Oct. 31, and staffers hope to collect at least 500 containers of repellent. During this time, the UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HernandoExt/) will post weekly updates charting the progress toward this goal.

Operation Skeeter Stop is a collaboration among several UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County programs, including Florida Sea Grant, Florida Friendly Landscaping, 4-H Youth Development and Florida Master Gardeners, along with Hernando County Mosquito Control and the Florida Department of Health, said Brittany Scharf, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Florida Sea Grant agent.

Scharf, William Lester and Stacy Strickland organized Operation Skeeter Stop as part of the Zika Challenge, a UF/IFAS Extension program that gives Extension faculty the tools to spread public awareness about mosquito control. Lester is the UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County horticulture agent, and Strickland is the UF/IFAS Hernando County Extension director and agriculture agent.

Donations will be distributed by local charitable organizations that serve the homeless, said Lester. “Anyone is at risk for getting bitten by a mosquito,” Lester said, “so it’s important that those without easy access to repellent get the protection they need.”

Hernando County residents and anyone interested in donating mosquito repellent can drop off new, unopened containers at five locations:

 

UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Office

16110 Aviation Loop Drive, Brooksville, FL

(352) 754-4433

 

UF/IFAS Hernando County

Master Gardener Nursery

19490 Oliver Street, Brooksville, FL

Open 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays

 

Hernando County Government Center

20 North Main Street, Brooksville, FL

352-754-4000

 

Hernando County Mosquito Control

15400 Wiscon Road, Brooksville, FL

352-540-6552

 

Department of Health Hernando County

7551 Forest Oaks Boulevard, Spring Hill, FL

352-540-6800

 

As part of Operation Skeeter Stop, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County faculty have produced two education videos that debunk some common mosquito myths and explain how to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in home landscapes. Videos are available at http://extensioncontest.com/.

Those who view the videos can enter a prize drawing, said Scharf. Businesses interested in contributing prizes should contact the organizers.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Brittany Scharf, 352-754-4433, bhallscharf@ufl.edu

William Lester, 352-754-4433, wlester@ufl.edu

Stacy Strickland, 352-754-4433, jsstrick@ufl.edu

school garden escambia

PENSACOLA, Fla. — As students at C.A. Weis Elementary School return for the new school year, they’ll notice something different about the area next to the outdoor space where physical education classes are usually held. Thanks to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension, students will find a new school garden that offers hands-on learning and strives to be a community gathering place.

“The school used to have a garden, but it fell into disuse, which is when we stepped in,” said Beth Bolles, horticulture agent with UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County, who co-organized outreach at C.A. Weis with Angela Hinkle, a UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County agent who specializes in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).

The project would not have been possible without the support of the school’s faculty and administration, the organizers said.

Once the school year is under way, students and their parents will begin planting cool-season vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots and lettuce, in the garden’s five raised beds. Throughout the fall, these students will learn to grow, harvest and prepare the produce as a part of a healthy meal, said Hinkle.

This isn’t the first time that Bolles and Hinkle have establish a school garden at a local school. However, C. A. Weis is unique because it is one of only three community schools in Florida designed to facilitate community engagement in very low-income areas.

All 600 students at the school qualify for either free or reduced lunches, and parents are often stretched thin between multiple jobs and caring for their families, said Hinkle. In addition to public education, the school also offers health checks and financial management classes for adults. “A big challenge in this community is finding transportation,” she said, “so when more things are centrally located at the school, it makes it easier to access assistance.”

School hours at C. A. Weis are extended to 6 p.m., and students will spend some of this afterschool time learning basic garden care and how to prepare nutritious food. These activities will also incorporate reading, math and science—for example, the science of how plants grow or the reading skills and arithmetic needed to follow a recipe, Hinkle explained.

Developing these skills gives kids a sense of accomplishment and confidence, the organizers side. “They can take pride in doing something that is their own,” Bolles said. “They can say, ‘I know how to do this or make this, and now I want to show my mom.’”

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Beth Bolles, 850-475-5230, bbolles@ufl.edu

Angela Hinkle, 850-475-5230, ahinkle@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

water rsa

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Though counties and water management districts may operate within set boundaries, water doesn’t stick to a jurisdiction. To address this reality, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension has created five new faculty positions to facilitate partnerships among various stakeholders, including agriculture, state agencies, water management districts and the public.

Each of these new water resource regional specialized agents (RSAs) is assigned to one of the five UF/IFAS Extension districts.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to now have five regional specialized agents geographically dispersed across the state to lead proactive educational programs related to water quality and quantity,” said Nick Place, dean of UF/IFAS Extension. “I envision that these faculty will enable UF/IFAS Extension to lead educational efforts across our rural and urban sectors, which will lead toward implementation of improved best practices. With the ever-increasing pressure on water, these faculty will enable us to take steps across the state that will ensure greater sustainability of our critical water resources.”

James Fletcher started in June as water resource RSA for the UF/IFAS Extension central district, which includes the Orlando area. Fletcher has spent the last three decades of his career as director of UF/IFAS Extension Osceola, Brevard and Madison counties. Fletcher was drawn to the new RSA position because of his involvement in the Central Florida Water Initiative.

“My responsibilities as RSA are in agricultural and public water supply and conservation,” Fletcher said. “We have a large population growth in the central district and a lot of agriculture in that area as well. We are developing a plan to make sure that there is enough water in the region to serve everyone.”

Mary Lusk started in April as the water resource RSA for the UF/IFAS Extension south central district, which extends from Pasco County in the north to Collier County in the south. Before Lusk earned a doctorate in soil and water sciences from the University of Florida, she worked in the groundwater remediation industry and later as a developer of science education materials for children.

Nutrient management in water systems is her priority. “When I look at the whole south central region, I see that many of our issues stem from a need to manage excess nutrients from urban landscapes,” she said. “My goal is to establish a top-notch Extension program that focuses on urban nutrient stewardship. I want people to look to UF/IFAS for information about the connections between urban land management and nutrient levels in our water bodies.”

Charles Barrett became the water resource RSA for the UF/IFAS Extension northeast district in May. This district includes Jacksonville, the Suwannee River Valley and the Nature Coast. Barrett’s doctoral research focused on water and nutrient management for vegetable crops, so he’s looking forward to working with local growers on these sustainability issues.

Barrett also wants to spread awareness, particularly among youth, about Florida’s water challenges. “I grew up remembering public service announcements about saving the rainforest and preventing forest fires,” he said. “I know that shaped me as an adult, and I’m more aware of those things than my parents were. I would be failing at my job if I weren’t developing that awareness about water in kids.”

The two most recent hires, Andrea Albertin and Lisa Krimsky, are the water resource RSAs for the northwest and south districts, respectively.

Krimsky, who holds a doctorate in marine biosciences, was a Florida Sea Grant agent with UF/IFAS Extension Miami-Dade County for eight years before moving to her new position July 15. “Right now, my primary focus is on water quality in the Indian River Lagoon. I also want to help county agents in the district develop water resource programs of their own,” she said.

Albertin, who will start August 15, received her doctorate in soil and water sciences from the University of Florida, after which she worked in the United States and Costa Rica in higher education and community development. She looks forward to bringing this background in research, teaching and outreach to residents, producers and UF/IFAS Extension faculty in the Panhandle.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Nick Place, 352-392-1761, nplace@ufl.edu

James Fletcher, 407-410-6901, jhfr@ufl.edu

Mary Lusk, 813-633-4129, mary.lusk@ufl.edu

Charles Barrett, 386-362-1725 ext. 108, cebarrett@ufl.edu

Lisa Krimsky, 772-465-3922, lkrimsky@ufl.edu

Andrea Albertin, 571-919-5096, albertin@ufl.edu

Students working in garden

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While most people at the University of Florida or in Gainesville are familiar with the UF bat houses across from Lake Alice on Museum Road, for some, those rows of kale or squash growing nearby are a mystery.

Called the Student Gardens, this plot of land is part of the UF Field and Fork Campus Food Program, an interdisciplinary initiative led by the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Each semester, 30 to 50 students volunteer at the garden, working together to grow fresh vegetables while learning sustainable farming practices.

These volunteers get a share of what they grow, and through a partnership with the Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field and Fork Pantry, which is run by UF Student Affairs, some of the harvest is distributed to those in the UF community facing food insecurity.

Starting this fall, UF faculty will begin taking their classes to the newest addition to Field and Fork, a seven-acre teaching farm located south of Hull Road. The Teaching Farm will demonstrate different systems for growing food and is available to faculty in any academic department.

“Field and Fork got started when we recognized a need for our students to have more experiential learning,” said Anna Prizzia, campus food systems coordinator and director of Field and Fork. ”We saw two areas on campus that were used to teach students about agriculture, but they were vastly underutilized. These became the Student Gardens and Teaching Farm. We also saw a need to address the issue of food insecurity on campus, which led to the food pantry” she said.

Any UF student can get involved in the gardens by showing up on one of the scheduled work days, which will be posted on the Field and Fork website and Facebook page. Some volunteers work as interns and receive college credit. Both interns and volunteers gain leadership experience by managing the gardens’ planning and operation.

Prizzia noted that most employers want to see college graduates have real-world leadership experience outside the classroom, which is exactly what the farm, gardens and pantry offer.

The Student Gardens will kick off the fall volunteer season with a scavenger hunt in mid-September. For more information about upcoming events and volunteer opportunities, go to the Field and Fork website (http://fieldandfork.ufl.edu) or Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/UFFarmandGardens/). To apply for an internship, please contact Anna Prizzia at aprizzia@ufl.edu.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Source: Anna Prizzia, 352-294-2208, aprizzia@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

Student working in a lab

College is hard. Starting college is even harder. You have to find your way around campus, make new friends and learn how to fend for yourself, all while figuring out what you want to do with your life. Even choosing which classes to take and when can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, there are academic advisers for every major whose job it is to help you navigate these challenges. However, only about half of University of Florida students ever go see their academic adviser, said Amy Vasquez, adviser for plant science majors.

And that’s a problem. Not having a clear plan for how you’re going to earn your degree can lead to big issues such as not finishing your degree on time.

Here are five tips to help you avoid complications down the road.

  1. Get to know your adviser.

“You should meet with your adviser at least once a semester,” said Amie Imler, adviser for students majoring in animal sciences. Your adviser can help you balance your schedule so that tougher courses are spread out over a few semesters rather than lumped into one.

Advisers also know which courses are only offered, for example, once an academic year, and will help you factor that into your plan, said Vasquez.

  1. Be professional.

Treat going to class like going to work. “You wouldn’t go to work in the morning wearing your pajamas,” said Imler. “You need to be developing professional habits now.” Imler noted that, at some point, you may want your professors and academic adviser to write your letters of recommendation. How do you want them to remember you?

  1. Get involved.

Employers, professional schools and graduate programs will want to see that you’ve developed leadership skills by participating in extracurricular activities. Vasquez recommends joining a club or organization on campus or in the community.

  1. Have an open mind.

Some students come to college intensely focused on one goal, said Herschel Johnson, adviser for food science and human nutrition majors, and that focus can blind them to other potential opportunities. “You may feel like you have to prove yourself from day one,” Johnson said. “You feel the competition, and you may not approach college as something that is about you as an individual.  Don’t compare yourself to other students. Find your own path.”

Some students may be unaware that there is more than one path to a particular goal, said Vasquez. Furthermore, that student may be more suited to some paths than to others. For example, a student who wants to go to medical school doesn’t have to major in biology, she said. In fact, majoring in a field such as entomology may actually help you stand out among a pool of medical school applicants.

  1. Have a back-up plan.

Approximately 50 percent of students enter UF wanting to go down the pre-professional track — medical school or law school — but not all of those students end up there, said Johnson. If you’re aiming to be pre-med or pre-law, be open to another route you can take and plan accordingly — ideally with the help of your academic adviser.

You can get in touch with your academic adviser by contacting the department in which you have declared a major. Undecided students or students looking to change majors should reach out to departments they are considering, or visit the UF Career Resource Center.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Amie Imler, 352-392-9739, amie.taylor@ufl.edu

Herschel Johnson, 352-294-3701, hdjohnson@ufl.edu

Amy Vasquez, 352-273-4573, amyalex@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

A family walking in a neighborhood

Randy Cantrell knows how to make things run smoothly. As both a father and a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher who studies how households can live harmoniously, he’s nearly always thinking about how best to keep a family in sync.

Some of Cantrell’s recent research has focused on what he calls “homeflow.” Homeflow measures how well a family works together to maintain an organized living space and routine.

“The family unit and the dwelling are not separate things but part of one system,” Cantrell explained.

With the start of the school year just around the corner, Cantrell recognizes that getting kids ready and out the door is a challenge for many households. Check out Cantrell’s five tips for keeping the peace and establishing your own homeflow.

  1. A great morning starts with the night before.

“There’s no way I can start talking about the first day of school without talking about the night before,” said Cantrell. “I want the whole evening to be about mentally and physically preparing for the next day so that we can wake up and run on all cylinders.”

Cantrell recommends easing your family toward bed time by using quiet activities, such as reading, to calm active minds and bodies. “That way, when we lie down in bed, we are in a state of mind where we can fall asleep easily, and we aren’t tossing and turning all night.”

  1. Establish expectations.

Play up what kids can look forward to, said Cantrell. “Talk about how fun and exciting the next day will be,” he said. “Talk about how we’re going to get a bath tonight and lay out our clothes for the next day.” Cantrell recommends preparing as much as you can the night before, such as making up bagged lunches.

  1. Stagger wake-up times.

“I wake up people at different times based on age and what they need to do that morning,” said Cantrell. That way, those who need more rest get it, and the household gets to slowly wake up rather than being abuzz all at once.

  1. Empower kids with choices.

Being able to choose what they eat for breakfast or what they wear to school empowers kids by making them active participants in the morning routine. Cantrell recommends coming up with a “menu” of preapproved options kids can choose from. “The morning comes with a lot of opportunity—what you’re going to eat for breakfast, what you’re going to wear—and when a child feels empowered to choose, they don’t feel rushed or pushed around,” Cantrell said.

  1. Set an example.

Don’t treat school as a place to dread, said Cantrell. “When I drop the kids off at school, I don’t pull up to the curb, let them off and then pull away,” he said. “I park the car, walk them all the way into the school, greet the teachers in the classroom and give my kids a hug and kiss. This lets them know that they are going to a place where they want to be.”

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Source: Randy Cantrell, 352-273-3554, rcantrell@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Photo

Florida Youth Institute

FYI participants at Florida Field

As 22 high schoolers step onto the manicured turf of Florida Field, Jason Kruse, associate professor of environmental horticulture, explains how maintaining a football field involves more than fertilizer and regular mowing. Rather, he says, it’s research from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences that keeps the field green for fans and safe for athletes.

This lesson is just one of several activities that comprise the Florida Youth Institute (FYI), a week-long summer program sponsored by the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the World Food Prize Foundation.  The program gives rising juniors and seniors a chance to explore emerging issues in agriculture, life sciences and natural resources while also giving them a taste of college life.

“FYI was created with an overall goal of engaging youth with issues in agricultural and natural resource sciences that affect Florida, the U.S. and world food security,” said Elaine Turner, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “Ultimately, we hope to grow the talent pipeline by connecting students to academic programs in CALS that will prepare them for careers in agricultural and natural resource sciences.”

During the week, students meet and interact with researchers at places such as the FDACS Division of Plant Industry, the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, and the Sensory Lab in the UF/IFAS food science and human nutrition department.

Zach Bennett, a student from Polk County, said he was impressed by the faculty and researchers he met. “All the professors and researchers here seem to enjoy teaching youth, and want to help us learn and answer our questions,” he said.

Activities highlight some of the challenges facing not just agriculture but the world population in the decades to come.

“I thought FYI would be an amazing opportunity to explore more of Florida’s agriculture rather than looking at it in a book,” said Roddra Johnson, an attendee from Orange Park, Florida. “With all of the career opportunities presented to us, I want to study agriculture because of its impact on food security. With a world population of 9 billion people by 2050, this is an important issue we need to start solving now.”

For these driven students, FYI can be a ticket to other exciting opportunities.

This year, for example, four FYI participants were selected to attend the Global Youth Institute, a prestigious international conference hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation and held each October in Des Moines, Iowa. During the three-day experience, they will tour cutting edge research facilities, meet with Nobel and World Food Prize Laureates and present their research and recommendations to scientific, humanitarian and agribusiness leaders from 65 countries.

The World Food Prize Foundation also recognized nine FYI students as Borlaug Scholars for their scholarly research and presentation of scientific and policy recommendations to address key global challenges. The recognition is named for Norman Borlaug, the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, father of the Green Revolution and founder of the World Food Prize, who saved more lives than any other person that has ever lived.

“Out of thousands of high school students across the country, the 22 young leaders at the Florida Youth Institute stood out for their incredible enthusiasm and awareness of the issues,” said Keegan Kautzky, director of national education programs for the World Food Prize Foundation.  On the final day of the program, Kautzky announced that all of this year’s participants, upon enrolling in college, would be eligible for the Wallace-Carver Fellowship, a paid college internship supported by the World Food Prize Foundation and the US Department of Agriculture.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Elaine Turner, 352-392-1963, returner@ufl.edu

Charlotte Emerson, 352-273-3575, cemer@ufl.edu

Keegan Kautzky, 515-343-7162, kkautzky@worldfoodprize.org

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

4-H forestry team in a wooded area
Jeremy Smith (left), Cayla Smith (center) and Henry Keating (right) holding ribbons won at the Florida 4-H state forestry competition.

Jeremy Smith (left), Cayla Smith (center) and Henry Keating (right) holding ribbons won at the Florida 4-H state forestry competition.

Henry Keating, 15, and Cayla and Jeremy Smith, 15 and 17, can tell a fir tree from a spruce — no small feat for three kids who grew up in St. Johns County, Florida, where firs and spruces don’t grow.

As part of the UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County 4-H forestry team, it’s been several years since these three could walk into a forest and simply see “trees.” Instead, they see features such as leaf shape and branching pattern, clues to the trees’ species. For example, “spruces have rounder needles, while firs have flatter ones,” said Jeremy.

Keating and the Smiths won this year’s Florida 4-H state forestry competition and are now headed to the National 4-H Forestry Invitational in Jackson’s Mill, West Virginia. The competition is set for July 31 to Aug. 4.

The St. Johns team will compete with other 4-H teams from across the country, demonstrating mastery of various skills, such as estimating the amount of timber in a tree and planning the development of forested land. They will also need to identify 81 tree species, including fir and spruce, nearly twice the number of trees they had to know at the state level.

The team started six years ago when Wendy Smith, Cayla and Jeremy’s mother, was searching for a 4-H activity that would get her children outdoors and help them appreciate the natural world. She thought trekking through stands of pine and learning about forest ecology would be a fun way to get some fresh air and learn something along the way.

Wendy’s two older children went to the national competition in 2012 and came in sixth place. Now Cayla and Jeremy are looking to match or surpass their older siblings’ accomplishments.

Keating has been on the team for the last four years, and he enjoys competing against other teams just as much as getting outside. “The thought of winning a national contest is really exciting,” he said. Keating was the highest scoring contestant at the state competition, which earned him a scholarship to attend UF and study forestry.

Wendy said the team wouldn’t have gotten this far without community’s support. Geralyn Sachs, 4-H agent with UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County, Greg Dunn, county forester, the University of Florida school of forest resources and conservation, and locals in the industry have all contributed to the team’s success, she said.

“4-H is all about developing life skills,” said Sachs, “and gaining mastery in the area of forestry has helped Cayla, Jeremy and Henry practice problem solving, team work, leadership and independence.”

All three team members agreed that one of the most challenging parts of the national competition will be identifying trees that aren’t native to the southeastern U.S. But if asked about anything tropical, they have the advantage. “If we get to identify a cabbage palm, that would make us very excited,” said Jeremy.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Geralyn Sachs, 904-209-0430, fish12@ufl.edu

Wendy Smith, 904-392-7958, jebandwendy@yahoo.com

Photo courtesy of Wendy Smith

Citizen scientists holding a Burmese python

The toughest part of wrangling a Burmese python is not pinning it down, but getting the entire 7-foot long snake into the cotton snake bag, said Ellen Butler, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Master Naturalist.

“He almost got away from me,” she said. “I frankly can still not believe that I did it. Now when I’m in the field and I come across a snake, I have a lot more confidence.”

Butler is one of several Florida Master Naturalists who learned to catch Burmese pythons to complete their Master Naturalist final project on invasive reptiles. Those who complete this project can become citizen scientists in the Everglades Invasive Reptile and Amphibian Monitoring (EIRAMP) Citizen Science Program.

These citizen scientists help researchers collect data on invasive species in south Florida and educate the public about the issue. Invasive species are animals that are not native to the region and compete with native species, which can throw ecosystems out of balance.

The Burmese python is one such species that’s had a big impact on the Florida Everglades, said Ken Gioeli, natural resources agent for UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County and EIRAMP citizen science facilitator. In addition to pythons, EIRAMP citizen scientists learn the biology of other invasive reptiles, such as tegus, iguanas, rainbow agamas and curlytailed lizards, he said.

“The nice thing about citizen scientists is that they can really expand our reach and our ability to get things done,” Gioeli said. For example, volunteers use a mobile app called IveGot1 to snap a photo of a suspected invasive reptile. These reports get sent to experts like Gioeli who identify the animal and record the GPS location of the sighting.

EIRAMP citizen scientists are also trained to monitor locations on Florida’s Treasure Coast for signs of invasive species. This data gets sent to the “Croc Docs,” a team of researchers at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Davie, Florida, who enter this information into a database that tracks invasive species in south Florida.

“Monitoring these areas allows us to set a baseline for invasive species in that area and better measure the impact of invasives over time,” Gioeli explained.

Master Naturalists who have gone through the EIRAMP program also work to educate public sector employees, particularly those who work in or near nature areas, about invasive species. “We target these groups because they are the ones most likely to encounter invasives,” Gioeli said. “The goal is to show them how to properly report sightings so that scientists can manage the problem before it explodes.”

So far, the program has given its “Eyes and Ears” training to 900 city and utility employees in the Treasure Coast region. “People are seeing these reptiles, but the key is to report them,” Gioeli said. “If they are not properly reported, the scientists studying the problem don’t know about it.”

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Source: Ken Gioeli, 772-462-1660, ktgioeli@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Photo

UF/IFAS Hastings Agricultural Extension Center office

Portrait of Gary EnglandGary England has been named director of the UF/IFAS Hastings Agricultural Extension Center in Hastings, Florida. The center is a resource for residents and agricultural producers in northeast Florida, a region known for both potatoes and surging urban development.

“We are extremely pleased to have Gary England serve in this new leadership role at Hastings,” said Nick Place, dean of UF/IFAS Extension. “Gary brings a wealth of experience in agriculture, applied research and farm management. He has outstanding skills and expertise to ensure that we have a strong and impactful program at our Hastings facility that addresses the current and emerging needs of agricultural producers in northeast Florida.”

England, who grew up in Ohio, attended the University of Florida as an undergraduate with the goal of becoming a golf course superintendent. After working in the golf industry, he returned to UF to earn a master’s degree in weed science.

Before becoming director, England worked as a multi-county UF/IFAS Extension agent in both Sumter and Lake Counties, where he specialized in commercial horticulture and fruit crops, respectively. In addition to being UF/IFAS HAEC director, England will also act as a regional specialized agent for the UF/IFAS Extension central district.

England has received several awards from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents as well as numerous honors from state and local organizations.

Earlier in his career working in private industry, England enjoyed working with farmers in the tri-county area. “I was very impressed with the agricultural industry in the area and its importance to the local and regional economy,” he said. “I look forward to working with our excellent group of Extension agents who work with local producers. I’m also looking forward to working with our researchers as they evaluate new cultivars, sustainable production methods, pest management and much more.”

One of England’s goals is to expand the reach of the facility and its faculty. “I want to continue to work with Extension agents and specialists in the tri-county area to present a well-rounded program,” he said. “We will strive to foster collaborations with agents focused on agricultural production and those involved in other disciplines, such as family and consumer sciences, and natural resources, to best serve our clientele.”

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Gary England, 904-692-4944, gke@ufl.edu

Nick Place, 352-392-1761, nplace@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Photo