Your Land Grant Partner

October 2023 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

dr angleBy J. Scott Angle
[email protected]

When the Florida Farm Bureau Federation and UF/IFAS work together, we can help a youth from Live Oak develop into a voice for farmers and ranchers nationwide.

John Walt Boatright has returned the favor with years of service to both our organizations.

In fact, he started serving while he was still a student at the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). As a CALS ambassador, Boatright was the student speaker at our first Dinner of Distinction in 2012.

It’s our annual event honoring our staunchest supporters. Boatright has attended nearly all of them.

UF/IFAS Advancement’s Dinner of Distinction 2023. Photo taken 09-15-23

Boatright got to the podium again this year. This time he was silent as someone else spoke. Dean Elaine Turner told an audience of hundreds, “We are proud to have a part in his story through college and beyond,” before announcing Boatright as the recipient of the 2023 CALS Alumni and Friends Horizon Award for outstanding contributions to the College.

On the path from student speaker to guest of honor, Boatright established himself as a leading voice for agriculture policy. During his five and a half years in Gainesville, he regularly shared insights from his job as your FFBF director of national affairs with our faculty and students.

In fact, Boatright says, he understood that sharing those insights with UF/IFAS to be part of his job. He was told a major part of the reason FFBF headquarters is in Gainesville is to be close to UF, IFAS and CALS.

His sharing has taken many forms. Boatright served on the UF/IFAS Department of Agronomys industry advisory committee as well as on the Leadership Council for the UF/IFAS Department of Food and Resource Economics (FRE), his academic home as an undergraduate. He has spoken at every FRE Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference since his start at FFBF.

He’s been a repeat volunteer for CALS “Coffee and Careers” events on campus at which he meets with current undergraduates to review resumes and talk about his path from undergraduate to national leader.

CALS and FFBF both helped him along that path. Boatright acknowledges current FRE Chair Lisa House, who was his agribusiness management instructor a decade ago. FRE’s Mike Olexa taught him agricultural law.

Then-FFBF assistant to the president Kevin Morgan helped Boatright find just the right place in the organization. And Boatright’s former boss Jaime Jerrels mentored him in the policy arena.

So, it all seemed a bit surreal to Boatright to be held up as an honoree with his double-Gator Dad and House and Morgan in the audience, a dean handing him an award, a photographer documenting the moment, and this year’s CALS ambassadors greeting him.

As an FFBF professional and CALS Ambassador alumnus, Boatright has connected our two organizations in many ways, including speaking at meetings of the UF chapter of Collegiate Farm Bureau. It’s yet another way UF/IFAS and FFBF are growing Florida’s future.

Boatright wouldn’t be who he is and where he is if not for both our organizations. We thanked him for the decade he’s spent thanking us with his service.

Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Interim Provost. Since 2020 he has served as UF’s Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).