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UF professor honored as 2020 Outstanding Educator by Southern Weed Science Society

By Shelby Oesterreicher

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Southern Weed Science Society (SWSS) recognized University of Florida professor Stephen Enloe with its 2020 Outstanding Educator Award (OEA) at the organization’s 73rd annual meeting in late January in Biloxi, Mississippi. Enloe is a faculty member affiliated with the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (CAIP).

Stephen Enloe, center, with Southern Weed Science Society representatives: Kelly Backsheider, left, board member,
and James Holloway, president. (photo courtesy of Joseph Omielan, SWSS)

“Stephen is one of the most dedicated and effective Extension educators I have had the pleasure to work with,” said Jason Ferrell, CAIP director. “Helping stakeholders is deeply personal for him, and he has worked hard for many years to ensure that they have the best and most relevant information.”

Though Enloe joined CAIP five years ago, Ferrell said the two have worked together in various capacities for more than a decade. Enloe’s research focuses are terrestrial and aquatic invasive plant biology, ecology and management. Extension is a major component of his work, sharing information with state and federal agencies, commercial and private applicators, pond and land managers, and the general public.

“We have made a lot of progress on many invasive plant issues, and I am encouraged to have been a part of it,” Enloe said. “Florida has an incredible group of people who really care about protecting our natural resources and native plant communities.”

Over his career, Enloe’s research and Extension responsibilities have centered around the biology, ecology and management of invasive plants in pasture and non-crop systems. He said he hopes to continue to improve the process of getting science-based information out to people as it is critical for our future.

“I became involved in Extension to be a bridge that connects science and stakeholders,” Enloe said. “The disconnect is often great and my goal has always been to translate the complexities of science to a level of practical application.”

The OEA is a cash award and plaque presented annually to a weed scientist in recognition of outstanding contributions to the Society and weed science through education. The OEA is given in recognition of a broad range of activities including formal classroom teaching, outreach and public service or extension, mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, and publication of scholarly work in journals, books or reviews.

“This was a bit of a surprise, and I am very grateful to Dr. Jay Ferrell for nominating me,” Enloe said. “Weed science Extension awards don’t come along very often, and they are generally very competitive. It is an honor to be recognized by my colleagues across the Southeast for my efforts.”

The SWSS encourages participants from any discipline to attend the annual January meeting and become involved in the organization. The Society exists as a way for professionals to exchange ideas, experiences, opinions and information relative to weed science. The group works to coordinate efforts on weed research and control with federal, state and local agencies, along with private companies.

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS website at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media.

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