QUINCY, Fla. – When Glen Aiken wasn’t helping his grandfather wrangle cattle in the smothering Texas heat, he was traveling with his father to meat packing houses across the region. “I swear I visited every meat packing plant between Oklahoma City and El Paso before I was 12 years old,” Aiken joked.
So, when it came time to choose a college major, animal science was a natural fit. And while he spent most of his career studying forage based diets of cattle, Aiken always knew he would move into administration. Just as he was ready to retire, the perfect opportunity came up at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Aiken, a nationally renowned expert on cattle forage, has been named the new director of the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, Florida. “I am excited to continue our solid relationships with stakeholders, and look forward to really strengthening those relationships,” Aiken said. “Another goal is to renovate our current facilities build on them as we move into the 21st century. It’s important that our research and facilities meet the needs of producer associations and commodities groups.”
UF/IFAS leaders said Aiken is the perfect person to lead the research and education center.
“Glen’s proven commitment to serving stakeholders, his long record of research, and his history as a Gator makes him a great fit to lead one of our research and education centers,” said Jack Payne, head of UF/IFAS and UF’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “His long experience with USDA should also prove a valuable asset for a leader on whom faculty, farmers, and families will depend to promote and strengthen Panhandle agriculture.”
Aiken, who worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more than 20 years in Arkansas and Kentucky, said his dream was to end his career at a university. “I like working with and mentoring young scientists because they are excited and innovative. They bring a fresh perspective to the research,” he said. “And at North Florida REC, I get to manage land resource and continue my research in grazing. I love the work and the people.”
Aiken has published more than 250 journal articles, book chapters and technical papers during his career. He was elected a Fellow by the American Society of Agronomy in 2006; received the Medallion Award from the American Forage and Grassland for contributions to the forage industry in 2015; and received the Pioneer Award from the Kentucky Beef Network for vision and service in establishing the Eden Shale Demonstration and Learning Farm in 2017.
Aiken received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&M University, and a Ph.D. in agronomy from UF.
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.