UF/IFAS CALS Alumni Create ‘Warriors in Agriculture’ Scholarship To Support Veterans and Their Families
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The idea to create a new scholarship for special forces veterans seeking a degree in the University of Florida’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) came to Clay and Erin Archey after Clay met Green Beret soldier Garrett Noonan.
Archey and Noonan met around a campfire after competing in a challenge race with GORUCK (short for “to ruck”, or backpack), a company started by a veteran. Archey learned that Noonan would be leaving the military to study plant science within CALS at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“Garrett said he had been to 26 different countries around the world and came to the conclusion that most of the world’s problems revolved around food,” Archey said. “He mentioned, ‘If I can do something about that, I want to.’ His character reminded me of my dad.”
Clay’s father, Allan Archey, graduated from UF/IFAS CALS in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences. Allan Archey of Hampton, Florida, came to UF after serving during the ‘60s in the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team, nicknamed the “Frogmen.” The Archeys, both 2004 graduates of CALS with master’s degrees in food and resource economics, named the CALS “Warriors in Agriculture” scholarship in honor of Allan Archey, who turned 80 this year.
“The Archeys have a shared passion for supporting agriculture and the military,” said CALS Dean Elaine Turner. “We are grateful to work with our CALS alumni, like the Archeys, to help pair their giving interests to a need within the college. The Warriors in Agriculture scholarship will benefit members of the special forces military community as well as children who have lost a military parent.”
Allan Archey grew up in Alva, Florida in a family of seven. Though he had a rough childhood, he had loving parents who greatly influenced how he raised his own kids. He continues to pass along advice to family, such as “Try to see it all,” and “You can walk if you stop running, but don’t stop if you’re going to run the race.”
“He was tough, but loving; hard but fair,” Clay Archey said. “He poured his heart into my hometown of Hampton. He nearly single-handedly built a little league baseball field there.”
Though Allan Archey entered the construction world and became a fireman on a naval air station after college, he instilled in his children an appreciation for agriculture. Growing up in FFA, Clay Archey fondly remembers his father helping him with projects such as raising pigs to show at the county fair and growing watermelons. His father is one of the reasons he chose to pursue a master’s degree in CALS.
The Archeys have a desire to spread the message that food issues, especially food shortages, drive a lot of conflict in the world. Through this new scholarship, the Archeys aim to encourage others to be a part of the fight against food insecurity, just like Noonan.
“These are little things we can do to say ‘thank you’ and help somebody who might choose to study agriculture like my father and Garrett,” Clay Archey said. “I hope that one day there will be the same scholarship opportunity at every land-grant institution in the nation.”
The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) administers the degree programs of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is to deliver unsurpassed educational programs that prepare students to address the world’s critical challenges related to agriculture, food systems, human wellbeing, natural resources and sustainable communities. The college has received more total (national and regional combined) USDA teaching awards than any other institution. Visit the CALS website at cals.ufl.edu, and follow CALS on social media platforms at @ufcals.