December eNewsletter 2020
By J. Scott Angle
UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) faculty taught Olivia Pope food and resource economics. John Hoblick, Kevin Morgan and Staci Sims taught her how to advocate for and serve Florida Farm Bureau members.
Olivia taught Farm Bureau leaders, too. During a summer as a Farm Bureau intern, she asked members everywhere in the state what they needed. She listened to your voices of agriculture and packaged them for the Voice of Agriculture—your administration and board—to amplify and act on what you told her.
Olivia’s internship with the Farm Bureau was an indispensable part of her education, just as the courses she took in effective oral communication and principles of agribusiness management were. CALS has long recognized the value of what we university leaders call “experiential education.” You can call it learning by doing, real-world experience or hands-on activities.
One of my first major initiatives as leader of UF/IFAS is to offer students more opportunity not just to study but to do. I have pledged to our 4,200 undergraduates that each of them will have an opportunity to participate in at least one meaningful outside-the-classroom learning experience during their undergraduate career at CALS.
These opportunities can be expensive. Study abroad means sometimes costly international travel. Others may pass up the valuable experience of unpaid internships because they need a paying job to help cover tuition and living expenses.
The Vice President’s Promise aims to remove such financial barriers. In October, CALS Dean Elaine Turner and I launched the fund-raising portion of this initiative to make experiential learning opportunities affordable for all undergraduate students.
This is so important to me and my wife Kay that we have pledged $10,000 to start the initiative. I hope you’ll consider joining us as donors. Visit https://give.ifas.ufl.edu/VPPromise/, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 352-392-1975.
The VP Promise is a commitment to expand and enrich outside-the-classroom experiences. These add an important who-you-know dimension to what you know. For Olivia, it started before her internship. It included traveling to Tallahassee as a member of the UF Collegiate Farm Bureau and seeking out Kevin Morgan at the Farm Bureau’s Taste of Florida Agriculture reception in the Capitol Plaza and introducing herself. He remembered her when it was time to interview intern candidates.
For other students, it might be participation in a research project, a leadership conference or a meat-judging team. Today it means Olivia has contacts that include John, Kevin, Staci and other Florida agriculture leaders.
She has launched her career back in her hometown of Pahokee, where she works for Wedgworth, Inc. We pride ourselves at CALS for producing job-ready graduates.
I made a promise to our undergraduates they’ll get opportunities like Olivia’s. I’m counting on Florida Farm Bureau members to donate to our growing fund to support, and to offer students real-world experience on your farms and in your offices to help me keep that promise.
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).