Florida Grower Announces 2012 Citrus Achievement Award Winner
For more than a decade, the Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award, sponsored by Chemtura AgroSolutions, has honored the proverbial â€œworkhorseâ€� on behalf of the industry. With the challenges of pest and disease, foreign competition, and the need to grow demand, strong industry advocacy is needed now more than ever.
The 2012 Citrus Achievement Award winner, Victor â€œVicâ€� Story Jr., exemplifies this â€œworkhorseâ€� ethic on behalf of the citrus industry he loves. His involvement in the industry spans his lifetime, starting out working in the grove planted by his father. â€œI was pretty good help to my dad by the time I was eight,â€� he says.
This month, Story will step down from a two-year stint serving as Florida Citrus Mutualâ€™s president. In that time, heâ€™s traveled the country, preaching the importance of Floridaâ€™s citrus industry to lawmakers and regulators.
During his time serving as president, Florida Citrus Mutual notes: â€œIn this role, he has traveled to Washington and Tallahassee lobbying for citrus growers on everything from labor reform to disease research to trade policy. He has testified in front of federal and state committees as well as the International Trade Commission.
â€œIn addition, Vic also has done countless television and print media interviews on issues important to growers. He even visited schoolchildren as part of an industry program to educate kids about citrus.â€�
Like many people who have enjoyed success and the ability to lead, Story credits his upbringing by exceptional parents. â€œI was fortunate to have two great parents, who had the vision to buy a grove and start a business after World War II,â€� he says.
His parents met in North Africa where both were serving in the War. His dad was an Army Air Corps pilot and his mother was an Air Corps nurse. After the War was over, his parents saved up money to purchase 100 acres between Babson Park and Frostproof. They cleared 80 acres of that land and planted a grove. Story calls it the Home Grove, which they still own to this day.
â€œThey built a little barn there at the grove,â€� says Story. â€œOn the south side of the building, was one room where we lived until I was 14 years old. It didnâ€™t have AC or heat, no TV, no nothing, but that wasnâ€™t unusual for the late 1940s and early 1950s.â€�
His father worked other jobs until 1958 when he went into citrus growing full time. From this foundation, the family business has grown over the years. By the time Story went to college in 1963, the familyâ€™s citrus acreage had grown to about 110 acres.
Story stayed away at school and served in the Army Reserves for about three years before returning home to help on the farm and continue the family business. â€œI felt guilty the whole time I was away, because my dad was left to do the work without the help of me or my brother, who also was away at school. I knew I wanted to make citrus my career. When I came back to work with dad, we started buying 10-acre blocks here and there. Weâ€™d usually buy something that was kind of run-down and fix it up and make a nice grove
out of it.â€�