From J. Scott Angle
Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS)
Norman Todd, who passed away late last month, bequeaths a legacy of grower-funded and grower-informed research that has helped make the lab more relevant in the grove.
Todd’s Citrus Hall of Fame bio speaks of an era in which research was done at the discretion of researchers as funds became available rather than in response to growers’ needs. Todd did a study that documented underfunding of UF/IFAS research stations. He then led a statewide referendum campaign in 1991 to establish a box tax, traveling widely to speak to growers about its merits.
After passage of the referendum with 80 percent approval, Todd became known as the “godfather” of the citrus box tax. It put growers in a position to directly fund research on projects—and for those projects to be designated by growers.
During a career in which he worked for perhaps half a dozen citrus companies, Todd consistently supported UF/IFAS. Among his roles:
- Polk County Citrus Extension Advisory Committee
- President of UF Fruit Crops Alumni Association
- Chairman of UF/IFAS Statewide Citrus Extension Committee
- Southwest Florida Research and Education Foundation
- Chairman of the South Florida Agricultural Council
It was in this last role that Todd contributed to the development and funding to establish the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC).
Todd’s involvement with UF agriculture began before there was an IFAS as we know it today. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1954. Perhaps he was destined to be a Gator for life. He served two years in the Army, then used his GI Bill benefits to attend the Citrus Training School in Lake Alfred.
I am proud to say UF/IFAS honored Todd in life as we do now in his death. Among his honors are the UF Distinguished Alumnus Award, UF Citrus Club Industry Man of the Year, Distinguished Service Award of Merit by the UF chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta (the honor society of agriculture), Outstanding Agriculturist from the Florida Association of County Ag Agents, and Outstanding Commercial Horticulturist Award by the Florida State Horticultural Society.
Kelly Morgan at SWFREC says that Todd still attended most meetings of Southwest Florida Research and Education Foundation up until the pandemic. Tom Obreza recalls Todd as outspoken but jovial.
Our sympathies to Todd’s family, which, in a way, includes a very wide swath of the citrus industry and those he supported at UF/IFAS. He will be missed.