Land Grant Partner

May 2021 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

The Collegiate Farm Bureau at the University of Florida is a student organization on the rise. The pandemic hasn’t slowed its efforts to promote agricultural awareness and develop its members through connections to Florida agriculture and the Florida Farm Bureau Federation.

More CFB members means a lot of prospective Young Farmers & Ranchers in the next few years. It means people ready to contribute to the industry as professionals. And it means people who get started speaking up for Florida agriculture as teens and 20-somethings.

Maybe the Collegiate Farm Bureau boom is fueled by the success of its recent alumni:

  • Jamie Fussell is director of labor relations at the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association.
  • Logan Luse is the FFB District 7 field representative.
  • Elise Stoddard Cruce is managing director of leadership development for the American Farm Bureau Federation.
  • Others have started careers at U.S. Sugar, Nutrien, Deloitte, Farm Credit, Columbia County Schools and even the U.S. District Court.

I got a look last month at how then-Collegiate Farm Bureau President Gabe Lucero is already working on the future of Florida farming here on campus. Gabe brought the family of a 13-year-old aspiring animal sciences student to my office after giving them a campus tour and making a pitch for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).

Gabe is a senior double majoring in biological engineering and food science who joined CFB in his first month on campus in 2016. He knew Farm Bureau was a big organization, but it was only after he joined that he realized how much Florida Farm Bureau does for its members. He learned from John Hoblick, Jason Davison, Michelle Curts and other FFBF staff members who spoke during club meetings.

And the CFB got him onto farms, like that of U.S. Sugar in Clewiston (thanks in part to Bryce Lawson, who was a CFB member before getting a job at U.S. Sugar), where a busload of members visited to get an inside look at how sugar is made and what the company does to produce the highest yields with the lowest environmental impact.

This is exactly the kind of beyond-the-classroom experience you’ve seen me promote in this space before. I want more students to join clubs, visit farms, work at internships and compete like Gabe did in FFBF Collegiate Discussion Meet, a simulated committee meeting that encourages cooperation and communication in seeking solutions to agricultural issues.

To grow food, we also have to grow talent. Getting our future leaders involved in Florida Farm Bureau as students is a great opportunity to expose them to the importance of advocacy. We want our graduates to be as comfortable with gaveling as they are with gardening.

Charlotte Emerson in the CALS dean’s office advises the club. She shares my philosophy—in fact, she implements it—that our students needn’t wait until graduation to affiliate with Florida Farm Bureau.

Emerson connects students with opportunity. She recruited Gabe to become a CALS ambassador, which put him in the tour guide role that brought him to my office last month.

While Gabe is recruiting for us, we’re prepping him for FFBF membership. At the very least, Gabe plans to become active in his county Farm Bureau when he starts a career. And Emerson will continue to identify and recruit students of agriculture to become voices for agriculture.

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