GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mid-Florida Research and Education Center Director Wayne Mackay will take on a new role as chairman of the University of Florida’s environmental horticulture department, Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, announced Friday.
The move becomes effective May 1.
“Dr. Mackay has done a wonderful job in Apopka and I’m confident he will bring that same brand of enthusiasm to Gainesville in his new role as our environmental horticulture department chair,” Payne said.
Mackay came to UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in 2007 from the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center at Dallas.
He said he’s excited about the new challenge and doesn’t believe the issues the department faces will be altogether different from those he took on at the Mid-Florida REC.
“Many of the issues related to teaching, research and extension will be the same, but they’ll be more of a statewide nature than regional,” he said.
Mackay, whose research background is as a plant breeder of ornamental and floriculture crops, said economic pressures have forced many mid-sized growers and producers to consolidate or find a smaller-market niche.
“The biggest issue is the general economy, it’s severely affected many turf and ornamental growers,” he said. “We’ve had an era of consolidation that’s led to there being fewer, but bigger, growers out there. One thing we can do is to help them find efficiencies in production and marketing.”
The UF/IFAS Department of Environmental Horticulture works to enhance people’s lives through the proper selection, propagation, growth, placement, and use of ornamental trees, shrubs, plants, flowers and turfgrasses.
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