Ron O’Connor named National Friend of Extension
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Ron O’Connor takes a hands-on approach to helping at University of Florida/IFAS Extension events, mentoring up and coming agriculture students, taking photographs and even securing grants for many projects.
This month at the 2015 National Epsilon Sigma Phi Conference in Coeur d Alene, Idaho, the agricultural fraternal organization’s Alpha Delta chapter honored his efforts, naming O’Connor a “National Friend of Extension.” Each year, ESP recognizes up to four volunteers from across the country – business leaders, volunteers or public servants – who go above and beyond in their assistance to Extension professionals. Extension is the national system of delivering research-based programs and information to the people from land-grant universities.
“I was honored to receive this award at the national level,” said O’Connor, who works as director of marketing and governmental affairs for Florida Farm Credit Systems. “I accepted this award on behalf of the three Florida Farm Credit Associations and the hard working resilient member-borrowers. They provide me the resources that allow me to work with the wonderful professionals in UF/IFAS Extension at both the state and county levels.”
Sumter County Extension Agent Martha Maddox originally nominated O’Connor for this recognition, which was endorsed by Florida ESP and UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension, along with Florida’s Alpha Delta Chapter of ESP, made up of faculty from UF/IFAS and Florida A&M University.
“A native Floridian and graduate of the University of Florida, Ron O’Connor is deeply devoted to the Extension family and plays a vital role in supporting the total Extension program,” Maddox said. “Ron is one of the Extension supporters we can truly always count on for support whether monetarily, advisory or in lobbying efforts on Extension’s behalf.”
O’Connor is deeply involved in multiple agricultural institutes and boards. He serves as a board member and primary photographer for the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame, is a member of and past president of The Florida Agriculture Institute, and is a member of and past vice president of the Florida Citrus Showcase. Additionally he is a member of the Florida Council of Cooperatives, Florida Citrus Mutual, Florida Cattlemen’s Association, and Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association’s Allied Committee, and has received an honorary Future Farmers of America membership and degree.
O’Connor has been responsible for providing numerous sponsorships for Extension and 4-H Youth activities during his more than 25 years with the Florida Farm Credit System. Those sponsorships provide cost and fee reductions for these educational programs.
Through O’Connor’s efforts, Farm Credit sponsors the annual Florida Association of County Agricultural Agents Young Professional Award; the agent recipients use these funds for local programming or for expanded professional development training. O’Connor was instrumental in securing a $20,000 sponsorship from the National Farm Credit Foundation for the 2012 National Association of Extension 4-H Agents’ conference held in Orlando to reduce the registration cost for attending Extension agents.
O’Connor serves on local 4-H and Extension Advisory committees, as well as area and statewide committees. He is one of the stakeholder advisory and planning committee members of the Extension Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference, the statewide annual conference for small and alternative farmers, securing funding for the event.
By Kimberly Moore Wilmoth, 352-294-3302, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Martha Maddox, 352-569-6871, email@example.com
Photo Caption: Ron O’Connor was named “National Friend of Extension” this month at the 2015 National Epsilon Sigma Phi Conference in Coeur d Alene, Idaho. UF/IFAS