HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Since 1929, the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center has built a rich history and a world-class reputation for its focused research and Extension programs to protect the stability of a long list of Florida commodities and natural resources.
At the core of its history are the scientists and graduate students building partnerships with Florida farmers who grow tropical and subtropical fruit, traditional and tropical vegetables and tropical ornamental and agronomic crops. They have worked together to find solutions to environmental and agricultural challenges, from sea-level rise to water quality and natural resource conservation.
At the recent 7th annual One Night in the Tropics, more than 300 people from around the state filled the campus grounds amid tropical fruit-filled orchards and ornamental plants to celebrate the work of previous and current scientists and their students and to raise funds for a shortage that is plaguing universities across the country – affordable graduate housing.
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To help relieve this issue, a focal point of the evening was the Graduate Dormitory Campaign, a facility planned to house scientists-in-training at UF/IFAS TREC.
In addition to those attending, the event drew sponsors representing multiple industries and sectors, including public officials, South Florida business leaders, community groups, educators, residents, scientists and graduate students. Together, they raised more than $76,000 adding to the existing fund, which now has $410,235.
Launched in 2019, the campaign goal is set for $600,000 to be met by 2022.
“The dormitory is vital to recruiting talented and qualified graduate students who support scientists as they develop crucial solutions to sustainably cultivate food for a growing population, protect our environment and conserve our natural resources,” said Edward “Gilly” Evans, a longtime agricultural economist at UF/IFAS and director at UF/IFAS TREC.
Several community leaders, businesses, organizations and alumni have joined the campaign over the years and continue to encourage others to join during the holiday season. Now in its third year, the campaign has raised more than half of the goal with $198,765 remaining.
Ron Magill of Zoo Miami emceed the starlit event. Attendees enjoyed live music, libations, dancing, fine dining selections featuring local exotic fruits and vegetables and the opportunity to bid on several one-of-a-kind auction items.
Sponsors of the event included Miami-Dade County Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins, Grove Services Inc., Dade County Farm Bureau, Railroad Nursery, Brooks Topicals, Arazoza Brothers, Corp, Schnebly Winery & Brewery, Andersen Farms, Inc., Silver Vase, DiMare Fresh, Ketel One Tropicals, Valentini Ice Cream, Dogfish Head Brewery, Mixd Greens, Dade County Agri Council, Native Flora, Knaus Berry Farms, Native Tree Nursery, Somerset Acadamey – SoHo, Everglades Equipment Group, Buster & DeMott Family Fishing Tournament, Plant Life Farms, Coconut Palm Growers Corp, Wells Fargo, Publix, Pepsi Cola, GSI, the Fair, Tamiami Orchid Festival, Rose of Sharon Nursery, BASF, Tropical Fruit Growers of South Florida, LNB Groves. Some sponsors shared their stories for supporting the event, hoping that others will join the campaign to fund the Graduate Dormitory Campaign.
Just like graduate students at many institutions of higher education, those at UF/IFAS TREC do more than research, explained Evans. “They expand and develop on the faculty’s ongoing inquiries, they collaborate with students in different disciplines to ensure that their research is academically sound and they make south Florida home.”
“To attract the most talented and qualified graduate students, TREC seeks to provide modern accommodations for students who decide to live on-site,” he said. “Since there are neither federal nor state funds allocated to complete the proposed accommodations, we must raise funds for the new construction at our property.”
For more information and to donate to the Student Housing Campaign, use this link https://trec.ifas.ufl.edu/friends-of-trec-endowments/
By Lourdes Mederos, email@example.com, 954-242-8439
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS)
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 brings science-based solutions
to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.