GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida research faculty and Extension agents may retire, but they’re still in the game. Look no farther than the UF Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.
From working on ways to combat citrus greening to continuing to find a cure for citrus blight and even developing new rootstocks, nearly two dozen retired faculty and Extension agents maintain a relationship with the epicenter of research for the Florida citrus industry.
“The CREC has long been recognized nationally and internationally for its outstanding citrus research and Extension programs, due to the years of experience and expertise of our faculty,” said Michael Rogers, interim director of the center, which is part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “When faculty members retire, we lose not only that individual, but the wisdom they have gained from their hands-on experiences working in citrus. This is real-world experience that can’t be learned from reading a book. We are really fortunate that many of our retired faculty have stayed engaged with the CREC following retirement.”
At a meeting in April, nearly 20 professors emeriti from many areas of UF/IFAS, both research and Extension, gathered at the CREC in Lake Alfred to discuss emeritus privileges and responsibilities, their role at UF and projects they could work on to aid and improve the citrus industry.
“Some emeriti faculty are still actively involved in research and are vital members of existing ‘teams,’” said John Jackson, a professor emeritus who is encouraging members to work on historic preservation and record keeping, including working with students at Florida Southern College’s Citrus Archives to preserve the industry’s legacy. “These dedicated individuals continue to provide valuable work to help the Florida agricultural industry.”
He explained that emeriti faculty worked for many decades in the field and lab with growers, regulatory agencies, other researchers/Extension staff and allied industry personnel. That experience can transfer to mentoring younger faculty and their staff, helping current faculty and staff gain a perspective, providing history that may be of great value, or simply being trained “ears” to listen to problems that may be encountered.
Jackson signs each email with “Enjoy Florida citrus everyday!!” in big orange letters. He admits that an important part of meeting his peers is simply the fun of getting together and catching up with people he has enjoyed working with for many years.
“I think us old folks need get together and laugh without the pressure of publishing papers, doing a plan of work, or having to get a grant proposal in before the deadline passes!” he said.
Also among the attendees was 93-year-old Harry Ford, who, Jackson said, is still sharp mentally and physically fit. He was closely involved with the development of the citrus industry in Southwest Florida by studying how to grow citrus on poorly drained land.
Rogers said the resource of retired faculty and Extension is not something he takes for granted.
“Whether they are actively involved in ongoing research projects or mentoring the next generation of faculty, their volunteer service to UF and the Florida citrus industry is definitely appreciated, ” Rogers said.
By Kimberly Moore Wilmoth, 352-294-3302, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Michael Rogers, 863-956-8801, email@example.com
John Jackson, 352-267-3227, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Caption: Professors emeriti maintain connections with the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, FL.
Front Row, L-R: Michael Rogers, John Jackson, Megh Singh, Russ Rouseff, Bela Buslig, Larry Jackson, Mohamed Ismail, Paul Fellers, Masoud Salyani
Back Row, L-R: Eldon Brown, Bill Phillips, Gene Albrigo, Andy Rose, Jim Syvertsen, Harry Ford, Bill Castle, Larry Parsons, Jodie Whitney, Pete Timmer