UF/IFAS Honors Partners at Annual Dinner of Distinction

UF/IFAS recognized the support of alumni and friends last week at the eighth annual Dinner of Distinction in Gainesville, Florida. The event honors individuals and organizations who support the land-grant mission to serve Florida residents through teaching, research and Extension.

“Our work isn’t possible without those who advocate for that work. They help us tell our story and secure the century-old land-grant mission for many years to come,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “The future of agriculture and natural resources industries depends on the friendship and bond we have with our stakeholders.”

The 2019 Dinner of Distinction award recipients include:

UF/IFAS Champion

Paul J. DiMare | Miami, Florida

Jack Payne, left, and Scott DiMare, son of Paul DiMare.

Paul DiMare came to the Sunshine State in 1964 to oversee the operations of the DiMare company’s Florida branch of businesses.  Today, the DiMare companies operate three offices in the state of Florida and own more than 1,350 acres of farmland.

DiMare is a stalwart defender of Florida agriculture and a pioneer in the tomato industry. A vocal champion of innovation, DiMare has worked hard to improve the quality of Florida tomatoes by partnering with UF/IFAS and actively supporting new policies, practices, and science as they relate to the agriculture industry.

Legislative Leader

Senator Kelli Stargel | Lakeland, Florida

Jack Payne, left, and Senator Kelli Stargel.

Senator Kelli Stargel was elected to the Florida Senate in November of 2012 after serving four years in the Florida House of Representatives. She is Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and has received a number of awards from the agricultural sector, such as the Florida Farm Bureau 2018 Legislator of the Year and Champion for Agriculture, the Florida Fruit and Vegetable 2018 Legislator of the Year, and the Florida Nursery, Growers, and Landscape Association 2018 Legislator of the Year.

Legislative Leader

Representative Lawrence McClure | Plant City, Florida

Jack Payne, left, and Representative Lawrence McClure.

Born and raised in Hillsborough County, Representative Lawrence McClure was elected to the Florida House in December of 2017 and serves the constituents of District 58. He currently sits on Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittees, Health Market Reform Subcommittee, Gaming Control Subcommittee and State Affairs Committee. Before being elected to the Florida Legislature, he spent the last several years working with state and local elected officials in addressing policies that impact the environment, water supply and future land use.

Volunteer of the Year, presented by SHARE Council

Tracy Duda Chapman | Oviedo, Florida

Tracy Duda Chapman is the senior vice president and chief legal and administrative officer at A. Duda and Sons, Inc. She serves on a variety of state boards and committees, and is a graduate of Class III of the UF/IFAS Wedgworth Leadership Institute. As alumni chair for WLI, she was instrumental in securing alumni participation and support. Under her guidance, more than 70 donors have contributed to this ongoing campaign, allowing the funding goal to increase by a million dollars.

CALS Alumni & Friends Horizon Award

Tory M. Moore | Lakeland, Florida

Tory Moore graduated from the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in 2014 with a degree in agricultural education and communication. After graduation, she began working for Farm Credit of Central Florida, where she became director of marketing. An active member of the agricultural community, Moore serves on numerous boards and is the immediate past president for the Agriculture Communicators of Florida. She credits her growth and accomplishments to the mentorship, leadership and support she received as a CALS student.

CALS Alumni & Friends Award of Distinction

Michael A. Joyner | Maitland, Florida

Michael Joyner graduated from the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences with a degree in food and resource economics. He has devoted his career to representing Florida agriculture before local, state and federal policymakers, including as commissioner Adam Putnam’s assistant commissioner of agriculture and chief of staff. Today, he is president of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association. He credits CALS with preparing him for a career in agriculture and public policy that has allowed him to follow his passion.

Extension Advocate Award

Brittany H. Lee | Gainesville, Florida

Brittany Lee graduated from the University of Florida in 2005. Today, she is the vice president and farm manager of a 110-acre Southern Highbush blueberry farm, Florida Blue Farms. As executive director of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, Lee partners with UF/IFAS to promote Florida agriculture and conservation, and to advocate for the work UF/IFAS does to support the agriculture industry. She was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture as the Florida delegate for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.

Industry Partner Award

Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association | Orlando, Florida

FNGLA is the largest state nursery and landscape association in the country. Its mission is to promote and protect the interests of Florida’s $21 billion landscape and nursery industry. UF/IFAS and FNGLA share a true partnership. UF/IFAS Extension provides trainers and testing sites for the 6 professional industry certifications developed by FNGLA, and UF/IFAS researchers work to provide science-based solutions to address industry concerns. In turn, FNGLA advocates for the budgetary needs of UF/IFAS with both Congress and the state legislature.

Left to right, Ben Bolusky of FNGLA, Brittany Lee, Michael Joyner, Tracy Duda Chapman, Scott Dimare and Tory Moore.

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