Very few things worry a grower in North Florida more than unseasonably warm weather in February or early March. Plants and trees responding to the higher temperatures are near impossible to keep dormant and are susceptible to damage from a late winter blast. We just had two weeks of 80-degree days and are now forecast to drop to 35 degrees with lower temperatures possible. Hang on to your ‘Bloomers,’ winter is not over yet!
On the morning of March 1, FNGLA CEO Ben Bolusky and I met at UF with Drs. Traci Irani and Heidi Radunovich in an ongoing effort with the Southern Coastal Center for Agriculture Health and Safety to create an opioids information resource program for FNGLA member companies and, potentially, all of Florida agriculture. I am now optimistic SCCAHS’ and FNGLA’s websites will be populated with many necessary components and available soon. We will see a presentation at the FNGLA Board of Directors meeting in Bonita Springs at the front end of the annual FNGLA Convention.
During the evening of March 1, FNGLA Secretary-Treasurer Shawn Thomas (Amigo #3) and I finally visited with the good folks of FNGLA’s Big Bend Chapter at Oglesby Plants International. We toured the high-tech tissue culture lab and impressive production facility before being treated to a fine rendition of Florida-style Brunswick stew. We had a great time getting to know the chapter members and leaders and also discussing the issues important to these growers and vendors. I wish to thank Martin Hackney, Mark Clikas and the Oglesby staff for a wonderful tour and the ‘down home’ hospitality!
FNGLA is widely known to provide members and the industry-at-large with world-class tradeshows, cutting-edge educational programs, statewide-recognized professional certifications and highly valued member benefits. Yet, did you know FNGLA has promoted industry research for decades through the National Horticulture Foundation (formerly the National Foliage Foundation - NFF) and FNGLA’s Endowed Research Fund at the UF Foundation (SHARE)?
In 1987, NHF started with $73,500 in hand and a mission to support and organize charitable, educational and research activities to address specific problems affecting the green industry. This research attracted some of the most skilled researchers, dedicated educators and promising students. According to NHF (and FNGLA) past president Joe Cialone, “The Foundation has now provided over $500,000 to researchers to solve industry problems and over $400,000 in scholarship funds to hundreds of students – many of whom have become leaders in our Industry.”
The National Horticulture Foundation continues to grow and provide answers to industry questions through research and education. With a conservative approach taken by NHF’s Board of Directors, the portfolio value of its fund has weathered an ever-fluctuating financial market and changing market influences. It now has a portfolio value of $2,788,372 and an additional $549,683 endowment within the UF Foundation bringing the total assets to $3.3 million!
The FNGLA Endowment Fund at the UF Foundation (SHARE) was created to address the problems and questions important to Florida’s nursery industry. The Endowment supports and encourages research on: environmental resource management; pest management practices and strategies; production system practices and strategies; genetics/breeding; and, enhanced quality of life for Floridians.
The FNGLA Endowment retains all of its principal too, so its base grows for the future and all new gifts are added to the principal. Only the interest generated each year is made available for research grants which are often submitted by UF/IFAS researchers. Each year at The Landscape Show, a committee of FNGLA members from diverse backgrounds and areas of the state, deliberate on which projects to prioritize the available funding. The principal balance of the FNGLA Endowment now exceeds $1.35 million and a total of $43,895 was recently awarded among nine research projects.
Please consider enhancing these two vital investments to our Florida green industry with your time, experience or capital.