You could say Mark Waldorff’s passion for plants stems from the 4-H clover.
A 4-H member at age 10, he quickly learned to grow plants on his own. He eventually went on to join the Alachua County 4-H horticulture and forestry teams.
“I always enjoyed the plant projects, and I liked being a part of a team,” Mark said. “One of the highlights of the summer was going to 4-H congress at University of Florida and doing horticulture identification with my friends at Fifield Hall.” As a 4-H member, Mark also participated in public speaking contests and various service projects in the county.
Mark went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture at UF, where he met his wife. They raised their family the Gainesville, where Mark had a career in insurance, though he’s recently come back to his horticultural roots. Mark and his family now own Gatorland Kubota, an agricultural and landscaping equipment dealership. “I like being closer to agriculture and having a stronger connection to the agricultural community,” he said.
He sees this connection to where food comes from as one of the strengths of 4-H.
“I think it’s important that kids today understand agriculture and natural resources. It also gets them active and out of the house,” he said. “I not only had fun, but it also gave me a sense of independence.”
4-H’s focus on leadership and teamwork has helped Mark succeed professionally. “We had great role models in our 4-H agents and club leaders. I have a great respect for the sacrifices they made for us, and to them I just want to say, thank you.”