Land Grant Partner

October 2022 eNewsletter

By J. Scott Angle
[email protected]

President Jeb Smith came to carry out a professional duty, but make no mistake, for him UF/IFAS is personal.

As the head of the organization that we honored as our UF/IFAS Champion, Smith spoke from both the lectern and the big screen at our recent Dinner of Distinction to honor our supporters. And he reflected on and off stage about the many ways UF/IFAS had touched his family.

Smith reminisced about an entomology professor named Freddie Johnson giving him one of his first jobs. He credited the UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics Department with educating both his father and his grandfather. He visited with his daughter at the event when she was not busy serving as an ambassador for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, where she’s a senior.

jeb smith florida farm bureau award uf ifas
IFAS Advancement’s Dinner of Distinction event on Friday, September 16th, 2022.

And he shared that as a senior in high school he attended what was then called 4-H Congress on campus in Gainesville where he met his future wife Wendy.

There are UF/IFAS echoes as he makes his way around his home community of Hastings. When a job applicant listed the Greenman Scholarship on her resume, Smith told her how the man for which the scholarship is named used to smoke cigars while delivering economics lectures. And when he ran into a city commissioner named French, Smith told him his father. Byron French had been a UF/IFAS professor, and he was a good friend who loaned power tools to Smith and his wife Wendy as they remodeled their home.

Smith is off to a great start as chief steward of one of the best Farm Bureau-land-grant university relationships in the nation. “Producers need objective information to be able to make good decisions, and IFAS provides that,” Smith said in the video.

The Farm Bureau, in turn, supports us in Tallahassee and elsewhere. They champion our students, our research initiatives and our Extension service.

And you’ve been doing it a lot longer than I’ve been in Florida. In fact, your parents and grandparents have been doing it since before I was born.

I’m proud that after all these years we’ve found a new way to thank Smith and all of you for the decades of support.

We won’t stop thanking you in so many other ways—recognizing members as agriculturalists of the year, hosting a Farm Bureau appreciation dinner, day-to-day notes via email and text, or old-fashioned handshakes and face-to-face expressions of gratitude.

The Dinner of Distinction brought together hundreds of students, staff, donors, alumni, and partners together for an evening to celebrate the professional partnership that keeps Florida agriculture so strong.

Smith’s history reminds us, though, that a professional alliance between two organizations is built on personal friendships among the people doing the work.

Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).