Trailblazing Trio Set To Enter Florida Citrus Hall Of Fame

In keeping up the tradition of recognizing and honoring distinguished leaders who have made significant contributions to the Florida citrus industry, the Selection Committee for the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame has announced its latest inductees.

Meet the Class of 2017:

Jim Ellis

Jim EllisEllis has led a distinguished career for decades in the Florida citrus industry as a grower, packer, industry representative and historian. He is currently in charge of the Citrus License & Bonds in the Division of Fruits & Vegetables for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. A graduate of Florida Southern College, he was President of the Citrus Club and received the Florida Citrus Mutual Award for Outstanding Achievement in the field of citrus studies. As owner and operator of Lake Garfield Packing, he introduced the first electronic sorter to the state of Florida, experimented with cutting and scoring grapefruit, applying a sweetener and shrink wrapping them to market as a breakfast item, along with different forms of automated fruit harvesting equipment. His passion for the citrus industry and its history has led him to collect numerous artifacts, and he has one of the largest collections of Florida citrus crate labels in the world, which is the nucleus for the Florida Citrus Label Digital Collection at Florida Southern College. His collection has been used in three books on citrus labels, and in the newly developed Polk County Citrus Label Driving Tour, which is part of the county’s History & Heritage program.


T. Ralph Robinson (1876-1967)

 T. Ralph RobinsonA graduate of Syracuse University, Robinson went to work for the USDA in 1901 working in plant physiology investigations. He spent more than 30 years working on the development of new citrus varieties, managing test plantings in 25 different sections of the state. He was primarily responsible for the commercial production of ‘Orlando’ and ‘Minneola’ tangelos, and the ‘Robinson’ tangerine was named for him because of his expert work in citrus breeding. He was part of a team of scientists that included Hall of Fame member Walter Swingle who were among the earliest to experiment with cross-pollination in citrus to develop new varieties. He was a past president of the Florida State Horticultural Society and his biography is listed in “American Men of Science” and in “Who’s Who,” along with approximately 80 titles of papers he wrote on horticultural subjects.


Mike Sparks

Mike Sparks, Florida Citrus MutualSparks has dedicated his entire professional career to the Florida citrus industry, starting with the Florida Department of Citrus where he worked for 29 years in various capacities as CFO, Director of Administration, Deputy Executive Director, and Interim Executive Director. For the last decade, he has been the Executive Vice President and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM) in Lakeland. Under his leadership, FCM has been able to secure unprecedented funding both on behalf of the Florida citrus industry and for national USDA programs such as CHRP, MAC and APHIS, as well as citrus and marketing programs. His efforts also led to significant long-term appropriations for pest and disease research, including $125 million in mandatory Farm Bill funding directed primarily at citrus greening research, and trade victories on tariff protection, including anti-dumping actions, which resulted in almost $16 million to FCM members. In addition to his other accomplishments, Sparks was named Florida Grower® magazine’s Citrus Achievement Award winner in 2014.

The inductees will be honored during the 55th Citrus Celebration Luncheon slated for Friday, March 10, 2017 in the Hollis Wellness Center at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. Ticket information will be available at FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com.

For more information, contact Brenda Eubanks Burnette, Florida Citrus Hall of Fame Executive Director, at 561-351-4314 or [email protected]m.

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
Citrus
October 18, 2017
How to Keep Track of Climate Change
Use cool tools to find out how your production methods may change in the future, how much your area is at risk, and how to limit your own impact on the climate. Read More
Citrus
October 17, 2017
USDA Issues Disaster Declaration for Hurricane-Stricken Florida Farmers
Operators in designated counties eligible for emergency assistance. Read More
Flooded peach and grape groves from Irma at UF/IFAS HAEC
Citrus
October 16, 2017
Wrath of Hurricane Irma’s Rainfall Measured by the Trillions
Report says storm dropped enough gallons of water on Florida’s St. Johns River Water Management District to swamp 6.7 million football fields. Read More
Fallen citrus fruit in wake of Irma
Citrus
October 12, 2017
Irma Rains Down on Florida Citrus Crop Estimate
Initial USDA forecast reflects the fruits of what was left behind by monster storm. Read More
A water-logged citrus grove in Southwest Florida following Irma
Citrus
October 10, 2017
Impressions from Irma Indelible on the Florida Farmscape [Slideshow]
Striking images from the field reveal not only the storm’s destructive nature, but also paths to recovery and reconstruction. Read More
Citrus
October 9, 2017
(We Won’t Back Down … ) Stand Your Ground for Agriculture
You don’t have to be a super hero, rock star, or award-winning scientist to aid farming. You can help by supporting professionalism in fields. Read More
Greenhouse structure damage at SWFREC in Immokalee
Citrus
October 6, 2017
Complications Persist as Florida Growers Pick up After Irma
Ground zero perspective reveals how citrus and vegetable producers are facing different, daunting challenges in wake of destructive storm. Read More
Growers boot up drone technology on the farm
Citrus
October 5, 2017
Are You a Precision Grower?
Gathering, analysis, and application still seems to be the best basic definition of precision agriculture. Read More
Greenhouse structures flattened by Irma at C&B Farms
Citrus
October 5, 2017
Hurricane Irma Toll on Florida Farming in the Billions
Preliminary damage estimates confirm storm’s ferocity. Read More
A sea of citrus fruit floating in floodwater after Irma
Citrus
October 5, 2017
Tips to Help Hurricane-Stressed Citrus Trees
Cleaning up damage and small doses of nutrition the fastest path to helping blocks bounce back. Read More
Citrus
October 4, 2017
Goodlatte Officially Introduces the Ag Guestworker Act
On Monday, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced his Agricultural Guestworker Act of 2017 bill, which would replace H-2A with an H-2C program. Rep. Goodlatte introduced the bill to the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. Read More
honeybees
Citrus
October 2, 2017
$10 Million for Honeybee Health
National Honey Board, Project Apis.m investing in pollinator research. Read More
Swamped citrus in Southwest Florida
Citrus
October 2, 2017
Perseverance a Priority for Florida Farmers Post-Irma
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam heartened by the strides being made by growers around the state as they begin to recover from the hurricane. Read More
cash money in hand
Citrus
October 2, 2017
$18 Million in Grants Available for Value-Added Producers
Farmers in need of planning or working capital funds to move their ideas forward encouraged to check out program. Read More
Asian citrus psyllid closeup
Insect & Disease Update
September 28, 2017
Attention to Citrus Psyllid Control Critical After Hurricane Irma
Flushing trees will give HLB vector perfect breeding ground. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
October 20, 2017
Is Your Orange Juice Glass Half Empty or…
There is strong-willed — some might even say stubborn — blood flowing through the veins of Florida growers. Read More
Citrus
October 19, 2017
Disaster Relief: Ways Florida Growers Ca…
With billions of dollars lost to Irma, financial assistance will be crucial for many. Read More
Citrus
October 18, 2017
How to Keep Track of Climate Change
Use cool tools to find out how your production methods may change in the future, how much your area is at risk, and how to limit your own impact on the climate. Read More
Citrus
October 17, 2017
USDA Issues Disaster Declaration for Hur…
Operators in designated counties eligible for emergency assistance. Read More
Citrus
October 16, 2017
Wrath of Hurricane Irma’s Rainfall…
Report says storm dropped enough gallons of water on Florida’s St. Johns River Water Management District to swamp 6.7 million football fields. Read More
Citrus
October 12, 2017
Irma Rains Down on Florida Citrus Crop E…
Initial USDA forecast reflects the fruits of what was left behind by monster storm. Read More
Citrus
October 10, 2017
Impressions from Irma Indelible on the F…
Striking images from the field reveal not only the storm’s destructive nature, but also paths to recovery and reconstruction. Read More
Citrus
October 9, 2017
(We Won’t Back Down … ) Stan…
You don’t have to be a super hero, rock star, or award-winning scientist to aid farming. You can help by supporting professionalism in fields. Read More
Citrus
October 6, 2017
Complications Persist as Florida Growers…
Ground zero perspective reveals how citrus and vegetable producers are facing different, daunting challenges in wake of destructive storm. Read More
Citrus
October 5, 2017
Are You a Precision Grower?
Gathering, analysis, and application still seems to be the best basic definition of precision agriculture. Read More
Citrus
October 5, 2017
Hurricane Irma Toll on Florida Farming i…
Preliminary damage estimates confirm storm’s ferocity. Read More
Citrus
October 5, 2017
Tips to Help Hurricane-Stressed Citrus T…
Cleaning up damage and small doses of nutrition the fastest path to helping blocks bounce back. Read More
Citrus
October 4, 2017
Goodlatte Officially Introduces the Ag G…
On Monday, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced his Agricultural Guestworker Act of 2017 bill, which would replace H-2A with an H-2C program. Rep. Goodlatte introduced the bill to the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. Read More
Citrus
October 2, 2017
$10 Million for Honeybee Health
National Honey Board, Project Apis.m investing in pollinator research. Read More
Citrus
October 2, 2017
Perseverance a Priority for Florida Farm…
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam heartened by the strides being made by growers around the state as they begin to recover from the hurricane. Read More
Citrus
October 2, 2017
$18 Million in Grants Available for Valu…
Farmers in need of planning or working capital funds to move their ideas forward encouraged to check out program. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Research on Jet Fuel Cover Crop Ready fo…
Scientists seeking to find if carinata can sustainably feed future renewable energy demands. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Agriculture Offers Rare Opportunity for …
A running theme from agricultural-friendly politicians speaking at the United Fresh Produce Association's Washington Conference was the need for a bipartisan approach to agriculture and immigration. Read More