Extension Programs

I provide leadership for the tropical fruit section of the Fruits and Vegetables Focus Team (G1-F1-C6) which is a part of one of our major goals – to enhance and maintain agricultural, natural resource and food systems.  The team is composed of extension and research faculty with expertise in tropical fruit production, post-harvest handling, food science and human nutrition, entomology, soil & water science, genetics and breeding, plant pathology, agricultural engineering, hydrology, and food and resource economics.  This program provides a framework for the coordination of educational and informational programs to the commercial and noncommercial tropical fruit producers of Florida.  The primary clientele include novice and experienced commercial producers, packers/shippers, processors, agricultural suppliers, agricultural organizations and urban residences.  The program provides information and educational programs in the areas of crop production, pest management, post-harvest handling, processing, hydrology, and marketing to commercial producers with the goal of improving their socioeconomic status.  Program goals for urban residents include dissemination of information on selection, care, handling, and use of tropical fruit crops in the home landscape.  Educational information is disseminated via seminars, workshops, short courses, field demonstrations, meetings, hard copy and electronic publications, and the Internet.
              In addition to providing leadership for the programs on tropical fruit crops, I head a Minor Use Pesticide Registration Field Office as part of the USDA’s Interregional Project No. 4 (TREC's Minor Use Pesticide Program).  The goal of this project is to obtain registration of needed pesticides for use in commercial tropical fruit production.  All studies are conducted in compliance with Good Laboratory Practices (40 CFR Part 160) and Standard Operating Procedures.  Our major focus is on pesticide materials that are termed reduced risk (low mammalian toxicity and environmental contamination) and/or are specific/narrow target compounds.  The beneficiaries of this project are commercial fruit producers, chemical companies and suppliers, the environment (proper use patterns, rates, frequencies), and consumers who receive top quality, safe produce.
   I am also involved in assisting tropical fruit producers organize for their mutual benefit.  My role has been to initiate, organize and facilitate commodity groups obtain the assistance in extension, research, and information they need.  This is accomplished through participation as an advisor to various commodity group organizations and acting as a liaison among the producer and academic community.

In-Service and Master Gardener Training

              I participate in the In-Service training program for the University of Florida’s extension faculty.  In-Service training is a continuing education program offered Extension Agents throughout the State designed to inform and update them on new issues and programs, technologies, and cultural practices so they may better serve their clientele.  In-Service training also provides an opportunity for the Extension Specialists to learn the informational and research needs and concerns of the County Cooperative Extension faculty.

I also participate as a speaker at the Master Gardener training courses offered extension volunteers.  The Master Gardener Program is designed to train interested volunteers in many aspects of horticulture.  To become a Master Gardener, the volunteer must attend numerous continuing education classes offered by Extension Specialists and Agents.  In return, the Master Gardener volunteers at county extension offices to answer questions from the public and/or assist Agents with programs.