UF/IFAS professor wins prestigious national teaching award

Thetford.Students

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mack Thetford, an associate professor based at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center, has been selected the 2016 American Society of Horticultural Science Outstanding Undergraduate Educator award. Thetford, whose teaching and research focus on landscape ornamentals and plant propagation, will be honored at the ASHS awards ceremony in Atlanta on Aug. 8.

The ASHS Outstanding Undergraduate Educator award recognizes an educator who has had a distinguished and outstanding undergraduate education teaching career in horticultural science for a period of 10 or more years. Thetford has taught at UF for 21 years.

“Dr. Thetford’s teaching efforts at the WFREC are appreciated, and I am grateful for the depth of knowledge and passion that he brings to the profession,” said Wes Wood, director of the West Florida REC.

Thetford co-teaches two state-wide web-based courses on plant propagation and annual and perennial gardening, and oversees the UF/IFAS Milton Gardens on the campus of Pensacola State College.

His teaching program includes courses in plant propagation, plant identification, annual and perennial gardening, dendrology and plant communities of the Florida Panhandle.

Thetford’s research interests center around two major areas: The first is development of propagation and production protocols with emphasis on native plants—particularly uncommon coastal species useful for dune restoration efforts. The second area of interest is evaluation of ornamental species for low input landscapes.

Also, Thetford is currently working with researchers to learn more about a rare coastal bee species associated with the Florida native wildflower Balduina angustifolia (Honeycomb Flower), and collaborating on research to learn more about the reproductive biology and management of the invasive Japanese Climbing Fern. In 2014 Thetford began initial field evaluations of pomegranate and olives in conjunction with Wood.

“The award is exciting and a wonderful surprise. It’s nice to be recognized for doing something that I love,” Thetford said.” I get to see the students get excited and passionate about learning in lectures and putting it to practice in a lab.”

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By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Sources: Wes Wood, 850-983-7126, woodwes@ufl.edu

Mack Thetford, 850-983-7130, thetford@ufl.edu