Shake-Up At Southwest Florida Research And Education Center

To better target services to stakeholders, officials at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) will transition the research and education center in Immokalee to a new programming focus.

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UF/IFAS officials said they hope to streamline duplicated services among several of the state’s research and education centers, including the center in Immokalee. That center will cease functioning as a research and education center on Sept. 1, 2014, allowing time for scientific experiments now under way to be completed.

“I know that this type of change affects many people,” said Jack Payne, UF’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “But sometimes it is necessary, and we believe that to improve, we must get through this process of re-evaluating how we operate.”

In the meantime, UF/IFAS officials are appointing an advisory committee this fall that will include agricultural and community stakeholders and will be co-chaired by Charles Vavrina, a UF/IFAS district Extension director, and Scott Taylor, director of operations at the UF/IFAS Hastings Partnership site.

That committee will come up with recommendations about the future vision for the Immokalee center, which will be modeled after the successful “partnership” programs at Live Oak and Hastings.

John Arthington, a UF/IFAS professor and director of the Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona, will supervise the center during the transition.

Six faculty members at the center will be reassigned to other centers, as appropriate. And UF/IFAS human resources officials will work with non-faculty employees at the center to ensure the smoothest possible transition.

The 320-acre Immokalee center has housed researchers who specialize in citrus and vegetable horticulture, among other topics, was established as a UF support facility in 1958 and became a UF/IFAS station in 1986.