Our sister land-grant university has once again demonstrated the excellence we’ve come to expect from family. Florida A&M University ranks first in the nation among public Historically Black Colleges and Universities. We at UF/IFAS salute FAMU for the recognition and celebrate its perennial achievements.
FAMU expresses its excellence, just as we do, through its people. FAMU’s alumni habitually contribute to the national conversation on how to form a more perfect union, whether it’s Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms interpreting Georgia election results in nationally televised interviews or National Book Award winner and former UF faculty member Ibram Kendi launching an anti-racist research center this summer at Boston University.
We can best pay tribute to our colleagues in Tallahassee and honor our shared land-grant mission by seeking opportunities to partner with them for the benefit of our great state every chance we get. When we do, good things happen.
And good people happen. People like Marcus Boston. With the support of both FAMU and UF/IFAS, Boston developed himself from linebacker into leader. He left Gainesville more than three decades ago to play football at FAMU, and he emerged as a double Rattler to start a career as a FAMU agent in the UF/IFAS Leon County Extension Office.
Today he leads that office. He exemplifies the opportunity that FAMU and UF/IFAS can provide together. For example, Boston helps alleviate hunger in a food desert by supporting the efforts of FAMU Extension agent Trevor Hylton, who’s long been embedded on our UF/IFAS Leon County Extension team and runs a successful community garden.
Boston has also paid it forward by hosting FAMU interns in the past to expose them to opportunities at Extension and across UF/IFAS.
I’d like to see the FAMU-UF/IFAS talent development pipeline strengthened by reviving Boston’s internship program. In fact, I see potential in partnering with FAMU’s College of Agriculture and Food Sciences to offer internships at Extension offices statewide. I urge you to look for opportunity through joint funding proposals such as the one from the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation and FAMU to start a joint graduate student program to prepare a more diverse corps of future foresters. Though it did not get funded, it succeeded in helping us identify areas of common interest. Let’s keep trying.
Let’s strengthen our outreach to FAMU to find ways to improve Florida together. If we do more to seek opportunity with our sister land-grant, perhaps we can earn a place in what President Larry Robinson calls the FAMULY.