Regarding Alma Mater Matters, It’s OK To Show Your True Colors [Opinion]

Paul RusnakI think it’s safe to say that if you are not competitive in nature (at least somewhat), then running a business might not be your calling. You don’t necessarily have to wear your competitive edges on your sleeve to succeed, but without a passion and drive for improvement, what’s the point?

If your inner fire needs stoking on this subject, think of it in terms of how fervently you back your favorite college and/or professional sports teams. It’s a fact that a large chunk of Florida Grower® magazine’s subscribers are University of Florida Gators, whether they are an alumnus, a current or former faculty member, a fan by proxy, or some combination of the above.

And though the Gators have the majority among our readership, there are still plenty of Seminoles, Knights, Rattlers, Hurricanes, as well as other alma maters beyond our borders that represent our industry. So, even though you might have graduated umpteen years ago, or moved to a different part of the planet, there is a pride that comes with your diploma. And when it comes to competition, those old emotions often can bubble up to the surface.

Relevance Of Rankings

Recently, I posted a news item regarding the latest ranking of the world’s top agriculture & forestry colleges by subject. Rankings, no matter what subject, seem to pull at the curiosity of readers. This particular ranking was no exception based off viewer analytics. Now in its fourth year, this survey conducted by U.K.-based Quacquarelli Symonds uses data based on academic reputation, employer reputation, and research impact from more than 200 of the top universities in the world.

For the first three years of this survey’s existence, the University of California-Davis held down the ranking’s top spot. Not this year though.

No doubt though, Gators around the globe are showing a toothy grin given Florida’s spot among the Top 25 (#23). This accomplishment shows not only expertise and reputation in this area, but also consistency as UF has finished #23, #16, and #21 respectively the last three years.

Unfortunately for the Sunshine State, no other schools made the grade for this particular list. However, in a separate ranking released last August for the top U.S. colleges in natural resources and conservation, UF came in at #4 and the University of Miami landed at #21.

Now whether you whole-heartedly agree with these rankings or take issue with them, it shows you do care. And for these subject areas in particular, we all have skin in the game.

Group Huddle

The positive takeaway from all these exercises in comparison would be to take honor in placement and recognize there is room for improvement. We don’t need a ranking to remind us how important agriculture is — especially here in Florida.

Superlative rankings or not, we all should desire to achieve more and be a leader by example among our competitors. The best way to do that: teamwork, no matter what school colors you wear.

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