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North Florida Research and Education Center celebrates 100 years of research, education, and agriculture in Quincy

The University of Florida IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center recently celebrated a century of agricultural innovation and education in an October 1 ceremony in Quincy.

“More important than the temporal milestone is what has happened in those 100 years,” said Barry Tillman, a renowned University of Florida IFAS peanut breeder who is the interim director of the North Florida Research and Education Center. “Many transformative discoveries have come out of the North Florida Research and Education Center, and our teaching, research and Extension discoveries have helped transform North Florida agriculture.”

The center, which was founded to research the region’s main crop at the time – tobacco – has since been at the forefront of researching every commodity to be grown in the region over the last 100 years.

From longtime staples like peanut and cotton, all the way to the current testing of carinata, which can be used for biofuel, and cold-hardy citrus fruits, like the satsuma mandarin.

Gadsden County Commissioners Eric Hinson (left) and Ron Green (right) present a proclamation to Barry Tillman (center), the interim director of the North Florida Research and Education Center, at the 100-year celebration in early October.

“From our very small beginnings in 1921, with a single plant pathologist and 23 acres, the North Florida Research and Education Center now encompasses over 2,300 acres and three locations spread across 150 miles,” Tillman shared.

“It’s among the most diverse agricultural and natural resource programs in the state within the University of Florida IFAS system. We look forward to the next 100 years and serving the needs of our clientele and stakeholders in Florida.”

In addition to welcomes from Tillman and environmental horticulture professor Gary Knox, who served as master of ceremonies, the morning featured presentations from several local and state figures recognizing the milestone.

These included Scott Angle, University of Florida vice president of agriculture and natural resources and the leader of University of Florida IFAS; Bobby Durden, retired University of Florida IFAS Extension agent and owner-operator of Durden Red Angus; Ron Barnett, a professor emeritus who retired from the North Florida Research and Education Center; Mathews Paret and Ian Small, current North Florida Research and Education Center assistant professors; Mack Glass, president of the Cold Hardy Citrus Association; and Gadsden County Commissioners Ron Green and Eric Hinson, who presented a proclamation on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners.

Angle highlighted the importance of farming to the future of feeding the world and environmental conservation, as well as the contributions of University of Florida IFAS research, education and extension efforts to those goals.

“We’ve got a lot of challenges on this planet,” he shared. “We’ve got to double food production by

the year 2050. A lot of that’s going to happen here in Florida.”

Kirsten Romaguera –