Kistler to join UF/IFAS as IRREC director

Mark Kistler will lead the University of Florida Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC) in Fort Pierce as its next director, effective June 17.

Kistler joins the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) from the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, in Tifton, Georgia, where he currently serves as professor and dean of the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Mark Kistler
Mark Kistler

“I am excited about the opportunity to return to the University of Florida and South Florida,” Kistler said. “Life has a way of bringing you full circle.  When I was the County Extension Director with UF/IFAS Okeechobee County Cooperative Extension, I worked directly with the Indian River Research and Education Center. The opportunity to now be the director and provide leadership to the faculty, staff, graduate students and programs is very humbling.  I am excited to work with these folks in finding solutions to support the agricultural industry and the natural resources along the Treasure Coast.”

Under Kistler’s leadership during the last six years, the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ enrollment, annual gifts and corporate partnerships have increased. He established a department of agricultural education and communication.

Robert Gilbert, University of Florida interim senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources and leader of UF/IFAS, said Kistler impressed leadership during his interviews with his focus on strengthening stakeholder relationships, as well as his familiarity with citrus greening and IRREC’s role in seeking solutions.

“Mark’s record of leadership and his experience in Florida will help him help IRREC continue to provide scientific solutions in the Indian River region and beyond,” Gilbert said. “IRREC does many things well, and Mark will bring a focus to the important and impactful scientific work of its faculty and staff.”

Kistler grew up in Winter Haven, Florida, where he was involved in the cattle and citrus industries. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and served as a member of the UF/IFAS faculty in the department of agricultural education and communication. He received a Ph.D. in agricultural education from Texas A&M University.

Kistler started his career as a 4-H agent for UF/IFAS Extension Hendry County. He also served as an agricultural agent in Sarasota County before becoming the director of UF/IFAS Extension Okeechobee County, where he often worked with IRREC faculty and staff.

He is a fellow with the American Association for Agricultural Education, a lifetime member of the North American College and Teachers of Agriculture and has received many awards for his teaching and advising through professional organizations at the college and university-level.

Ron Cave, director of IRREC since 2016, will continue with UF/IFAS as a faculty member. He has served as center director for seven years and has overseen the management and first harvest of the Millennium Block, an experimental grove of more than 5,500 trees that aims to address challenges in citrus production, and has won numerous awards, such as the U.K.’s Royal Entomological Society’s J.O. Westwood Metal of Excellence for work to complete five volumes on New World faunal surveys and taxonomy of a scarab beetle subfamily.


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.  |  @UF_IFAS


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Posted: April 5, 2024

Category: UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Research

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