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Voices of UF/IFAS: Ask IFAS

Name: EDIS/Ask IFAS
Position: Database
Hometown: Florida, USA
Years with UF/IFAS: Over 20.

Describe your role at UF/IFAS.

I answer questions and fill people in on the important stuff they need to know. If you’re wondering what to plant in a corner of your yard that doesn’t get much sun you can ask me! I also help farmers and beekeepers and forest, wildlife, and fisheries managers. People all over the world come to me for help with agriculture questions, wildlife questions, questions about pets, livestock, plants, insects, family, health, and how to manage their money. I help out with 4H projects and keeping older folks healthy and happy, and I’m big into citizen science projects. Like have you heard of a “bioblitz?” It’s science, but it’s also really social and fun, like a party. Actually, that sums up my overall role pretty well. I’m throwing a big party for science!

What are some of the most popular topics people search for on EDIS?

Certainly 4H topics are huge. People really like gardening in Florida, so that’s a popular one. And snakes. If you see a snake, Ask IFAS is a good place to start to find out what it is. Oh, and insects. Can’t forget them!

What are some of the most amazing things you’ve learned from EDIS publications?

Oh, this is a good one! Did you know that beehives are superorganisms? What that means is, the whole hive acts like a single animal. If it’s too hot, the bees collect near the entrance to the hive and fan their wings over water droplets to evaporate them and cool down the hive. I learn neat stuff like that all the time.

Is there anybody you particularly admire?

The people who make it all work. Our IT people past and present. We were lucky to have a developer who made our original in-house publishing software that allowed us to digitize what had been paper-and-ink fact sheets. We soon realized that the cost limits we’d been working with before were now gone, and that’s when I really started to grow. I was lucky to have a lot of helpers along the way. Our librarians have been wonderful for me. They’ve always kept me working efficiently and in order, and nowadays the librarian is the main go-to person for not one but two major new technological systems that are making publishing even easier. A long succession of editors and proofreaders who keep my circulars and bulletins and guides and fact sheets clear and readable. The graphics people who keep my publications looking fresh and working well with changing technology. The layout people who do the actual work of creating publications and who handle countless revisions and updates every year. An involved and dedicated administration that has unflaggingly supported me and encouraged authors to write for and publish on EDIS. And most of all the authors themselves, of course, all contributing their best. All these people keep me healthy and strong and performing well to help more people.

What are your hobbies?

Scalloping every spring. Fishing, beekeeping, hiking, birdwatching, herp-spotting. Golf, baseball, and many other sports out on our lush and beautiful Florida courses and fields. I swim, dive, and paddle in the springs, in the Gulf, in the Atlantic, and in countless lakes. I raise chickens and tilapia. I have a huge insect collection. I sew. I garden and preserve the vegetables and fruit I grow. I grow oranges, pineapples, pomegranates, figs, tomatoes, squash, papaya, pitaya, banana, eggplant, melons, peanuts, strawberries, blueberries, zipper cream peas, and okra, just to name a few. I have butterfly gardens and hummingbird gardens. Lately I’m starting to get into flying drones and growing my own hops and barley for craft beer. And I try all the recipes. There are so. Many. Recipes!