Michael E. Rogers
Professor and Center Director
UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center
Florida processes more orange juice than any state in the union. It produces more orange juice that any other country in the world except one. And at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, we proudly provide the latest research and outreach that keeps Florida’s citrus industry the best in the world.
That is why we are participating in this year’s National OJ Day celebrations. Sponsored by the Florida Department of Citrus, National OJ Day on May 4 is a time to celebrate Florida’s iconic citrus agricultural sector that is the engine producing great-tasting juice.
But this isn’t about being self-serving or self-promoting. This year is especially important to take a moment and join in the campaign.
The 2020 theme is “Toast to Frontlines.” It’s an opportunity for all of us to raise a glass to all those everyday heroes who are fighting the good fight to keep all of us going. It’s the healthcare workers, the first responders, the grocery clerks, the neighbors who are taking care of each other. This is an opportunity for all of us to raise a glass of orange juice and say thanks.
We are all encouraged to take a photo – an OJ selfie – with a glass of Florida OJ and post it to our favorite social media channel. Be it Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can make your own YouTube or TikToc video. Just remember to use the hashtag #NOJD2020
Add your voice to the effort by visiting the Florida Orange Juice Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/FloridaOrangeJuice/, on May 4 to learn more about the celebration and participate via social media.
I’ll be toasting some of the hardworking UF/IFAS scientists, Extension agents and lab technicians who are on the job working to support our citrus growers to keep the supply of oranges and grapefruit going strong. Agriculture is considered an essential industry and our crops, groves, animals and plants do not stop growing because of the pandemic.
UF/IFAS researchers are continuing to work on ways to increase yields in our groves, improve the quality of the fruit, fight the invasive pests that continue to damage and kill citrus trees, and ensure that food production processes are safe and secure for all of us.
At the UF research and education centers in Lake Alfred, Immokalee and Fort Pierce as well as in Gainesville, we are finding new ways to do the job with social distancing, new protective equipment, working from home and staggering our work hours. As scientists, we are familiar with discovering new ways of resolving problems and overcoming obstacles. When one way doesn’t work, it is an opportunity to find a new solution.
We are inspired by our neighbors who continue to serve others selflessly. And we are proud to continue to do what we do to provide food for our communities, the state, nation and the world.
So, let’s take a moment on Monday, May 4 and throughout the next week to raise a glass of orange juice in a toast to all the frontliners who keep on keeping on.
To learn more about UF/IFAS citrus research visit citrusresearch.ifas.ufl.edu.