The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences would not have the impact it has on our state without the people and organizations who give, volunteer, advise and serve as advocates for the UF/IFAS land-grant mission. This is especially true for UF/IFAS Extension, where we work directly with the public, listening to their needs and delivering the most current, research-based information to help them find solutions to issues related to agriculture, natural resources, energy, health and nutrition, and youth development. Without the input and support of the people we serve, UF/IFAS Extension couldn’t exist.
The Dinner of Distinction is an annual event where we get to meet with old and new friends, thank our supporters and issue awards to those who amplify our work around the state.
As part of the evening’s events, it was my special honor to present the Award for Extension Advocate of the Year to Brittany H. Lee.
Brittany is the Vice President and Farm Manager of Florida Blue Farms, Inc., a 110-acre Southern Highbush blueberry plantation in Alachua County. If you’ve never been out to Florida Blue Farms in Waldo, it’s the kind of place Extension agents and other proponents of sustainable agriculture dream about. There’s a tailwater recovery pond that collects irrigation runoff and reapplies it to the crops. There are rip-rap berms to prevent soil erosion and grass filter strips to sponge up minimized nutrients and sediments. There are weather stations for accurate irrigation, soil moisture sensors, drip irrigation lines and ground cover to reduce water inputs. This is best management practices effectively at work, and Florida Blue Farms has won awards for environmental stewardship from FDACS and the Florida Farm Bureau. You can see an FDACS video about the innovations at Florida Blue Farms at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYiS2HRhtJE
Off the farm, Brittany, who graduated from UF in 2005, is also one of Florida’s leading women in agriculture and a strong advocate for UF/IFAS. She’s the past president and current executive director of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, and was appointed as Florida delegate to the US Highbush Blueberry Council. She’s a graduate of the Wedgeworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources and serves on the Wedgeworth Advisory Board. She also serves as a board member for the Alachua Farm Bureau, Farm Credit of Florida, and the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association.
Brittany is also known for her leadership and mentoring of Florida youth. She’s been a member of the Northeast Regional Council of Leadership Florida, the Junior League of Gainesville, Reeling for Kids – Benefitting the Boys and Girls Club, the Ronald McDonald House of North Central Florida Executive Board, the TitleTown Gator Club and the University of Florida Young Alumni Council.
In short, Brittany Lee is a force to be reckoned with. Her leadership and unwavering commitment to advancing sustainable practices in Florida agriculture make her a true friend and valued ally of UF/IFAS Extension.
The full list of 2019 Dinner of Distinction award recipients is available at https://tinyurl.com/y4vsr9ke