Land Grant Partner

August 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

dr angleBy J. Scott Angle
[email protected]

Thanks in part to Farm Bureau support for our legislative agenda, UF/IFAS plans to expand its enrollment in equine programs by 10 percent.

This will prepare more students for work in farm management, pharmaceutical and feed sales, equine business marketing or to apply for veterinary school or other advanced degrees. It means more hands-on, experiential learning.

The funding means we can begin to lift limitations we’ve had on instruction in how to take care of the animals that help take care of your animals because the “classroom” had slipped into disrepair.

The state will fund nearly $2 million for a new building and assorted repairs to the UF/IFAS Horse Teaching Unit, aka the HTU.

The current facilities become unusable when rain floods the property. Classes get canceled, research gets disrupted. Holes, unsafe wiring and fire hazards threaten the safety of animals and humans alike.

During the winter, Florida has more horses than Kentucky. Yet there’s nowhere else in the entire Florida public university system I know of where a student can take Techniques in Farrier Science or live at a stable to take on 24/7 care of these valuable animals.

So the upgrade of the HTU is important not only to support the huge economic impact of equine competitions and tourism but of training your future professionals.

This is not a case of remedying neglect. We’ve stretched the resources we have as far as they’ll go.

I’d like to single out the outstanding job that Angela Chandler has done. She’s so good at managing the HTU that when the director of our Equine Sciences Center in Ocala retired, we gave Chandler a second job and used the savings to, among other things, pay for needed repairs.

Chandler (who is quick to credit Joel McQuagge and Saundra TenBroeck for building the program) also boosted hay production at the Ocala center, reducing feed costs at the equine and beef units. She’s saved money through equipment sharing, and she’s built a reputation for the HTU that has the potential to generate revenue through standing outside stallions.

Indeed, last year the university recognized her among its tens of thousands of employees statewide with one of its eight Superior Accomplishment Awards.

The Farm Bureau’s a

Joel McQuagge training a horse in a demonstration at the Horse Teaching Unit. Photo taken 05-15-19.

nnual day in Tallahassee did a lot to educate policy makers about the need. Now that we have some of the resources to address it, I hope you’ll join me in thanking Representative Josie Tomkow and Senator Dennis Baxley for sponsoring the legislation to authorize the funding.

UF/IFAS is also launching a fundraising campaign to build an endowment to support the equine program, a critical component of its long-term success. If you’re interested in naming rights or other opportunities to support the program, please contact Julie Conn at [email protected].

With all the technology we’re bringing you to reduce manual labor and better inform your management decisions, we can’t outright replace the horse.

That four-legged tool is only as effective as its operator, though. The HTU is how we transmit the know-how for you to get the most out of your horses and ensure they get the same care your cattle receive on your ranch.

As the HTU improves, so does the student experience, and so does the quality of the graduates you hire.

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