CALS Alumni & Friends Awards
Click here to nominate an individual for the CALS Alumni and Friends Award of Distinction or the CALS Alumni and Friends Horizon Award. Nominations are due Dec.1.
Nominated individuals who meet eligibility criteria will be invited to complete an application for the Award of Distinction or Horizon Award. Individuals may also self-nominate by completing an application for the Award of Distinction or Horizon Award. Applications are due Feb. 1.
All applicants will be notified of their selection status in April.
Award of Distinction
The CALS Alumni and Friends Award of Distinction is presented to UF/CALS alumni or friends in recognition of their outstanding contributions to UF, IFAS, CALS and the agricultural, natural resource, life science and related industries and professions.
The CALS Alumni and Friends Horizon Award is presented to a UF/CALS alumnus who has completed his or her most recent UF degree within the last 10 years. The award recognizes an individual for his or her outstanding contributions and potential as a leader in the agricultural, natural resource, life science and related industries and professions.
CALS Alumni and Friends Scholarship
The CALS Alumni and Friends Scholarship supports outstanding CALS undergraduate students who are involved in college, departmental or major activities. Selection is made from the the CALS Undergraduate Scholarship Application. The annual TailGATOR silent auction as well as individual donations support this scholarship endowment.
Awards Recipients Listing
2018 Award Recipients
2018 Award of Distinction
Jeffery "J.J." Grow
BSA '92 Food & Resource Economics
Throughout his distinguished agribusiness career, J.J. Grow has never forgotten the importance of his time at the University of Florida and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. It's for these reasons he and his family have made a personal commitment to give back to UF and CALS.
J.J. grew up in Inverness and, from a very early age, took an interest in agriculture. He loved sports and FFA. J.J. served as a state officer in 1986. He credits what he learned in FFA as putting him on the right track for success. While at UF, J.J. realized that agribusiness would be his professional path. He credits his success in CALS to the incredible faculty that not only educated but also mentored him.
Today, J.J. is the Chairman of Verdesian Life Sciences, an agribusiness he co-founded in 2012. Prior to Verdesian, J.J. co-founded Gro-Pro LLC.
J.J. and his wife Jennifer have a strong belief in giving back. They're very active with many charities in their community. Their contributions to the University of Florida include establishing endowments in the names of Dr. Gary Fairchild, Dr. Burl Long and Dr. Gene Trotter. J.J. and Jen have also been Bull Gators for more than a decade.
J.J. has served on various boards and advisory councils for organizations including CropLife America, Florida FFA Foundation, Florida FFA Alumni and CALS. He completed the Wedgworth Leadership Institute and is an active alumnus. J.J. also serves on the National Wild Tukey Federation Foundation Board. He loves mentoring students in his community and opening their eyes to UF and CALS.
2018 Horizon Award
Bernie & Avery (Sams) LeFils
Avery - bsa '11 Agricultural Education & Communication
Bernie - BSA ' 11 Food & Resource Economics
Bernie LeFils grew up in Volusia County, a self-proclaimed Gator from the start in a house full of Stetson University graduates. Bernie was involved in agriculture from an early age on the family's ranch. After holding a a variety of leadership positions in FFA throughout middle and high school, it only seemed natural that he pursue a bachelor's degree in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
As a student, Bernie served as a CALS Ambassador, was inducted into Florida Blue Key, and held multiple leadership roles in his fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho. After graduation, he followed in his family's footsteps by earning a Master of Accountancy degree from Stetson University and becoming a Certified Public Accountant. Bernie joined his father at their family-owned practice where he recently expanded their offerings to include certified financial advising and estate planning.
Bernie combines his knowledge of finance and love for the agriculture industry by serving as the Volusia County Cattlemen's Association President. In 2014, he was chosen to be a member of the inaugural class of the Florida Cattlemen's Leadership Academy. He also serves as the treasurer for both the Alpha Gamma Rho House Association and Educational Foundation, which provide housing and scholarships for members.
Avery (Sams) LeFils became interested in agriculture after joining FFA in high school. Having always loved horseback riding and spending time outdoors, the FFA organization opened her eyes to the industry's diversity and the multitude of opportunities it offers. She decided to focus her collegiate experience on developing communication skills to promote the industry.
While at UF, Avery served as an officer for the Agricultural Communicators and Leaders of Tomorrow, Sigma Alpha Sorority, and Alpha Tau Alpha Honors Society. She particularly enjoyed promoting the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and industry opportunities as a CALS Ambassador.
Upon graduation, Avery started working for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association where she helped streamline digital processes and assisted in the creation of its Emerging Leader Development Program. While at FFVA, she served as its representative on the board of directors for Florida Agriculture in the Classroom and, as the marketing committee chairwoman, guided the board through a rebranding effort.
In 2012, she joined the CALS Alumni and Friends Board of Directors and in 2014 was selected as an alumni representative on a task force directed to restructure the mission, core values, and goals of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
Avery currently works as the marketing coordinator for Village Farms International, a North American leader of greenhouse grown hydroponic tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.
Bernie and Avery met as high school students in 2006 at the Florida FFA Leadership Training Center, were engaged during their time at UF and married in 2012. After searching for a meaningful way to give back to a college that had given them so much, they joined the CALS Dean's Circle in 2015, becoming the youngest members to-date. They enjoy giving back by facilitating workshops for industry organizations and their departments as often as possible and you can always find them in Gainesville on Saturdays in the fall.
Award of Distinction Recipients
Award of Distinction recipients
Year Name Hometown 2018 J.J. Grow, BSA '92 Inverness 2017 Michael Minton, BSA '79 Fort Pierce 2016 Bill Gunter, BSA '56 Tallahassee 2015 Henry P. Davis, BSA '50 Perry Jesse Godbold, BSE '63 Green Cove Springs 2014 Ernest A. Sellers, BSA '59 Live Oak Roger L. West, BSA '68, MS '70 Gainesville 2013 Arland Andreasen, Jr., BSA '74, MAG '82 Marianna Arlen N. Jumper, BSA '53, MAG '58 Ft. McCoy 2012 Richard Barber, BSA '61 Ocala Wayne H. Smith, BSA '60 Melrose 2011 Chuck Allison, BSA '78, MS '81 Orlando Don Quincey Chiefland 2010 Victor "Frankie" Hall, Jr., BSA '79 Gainesville John "Jack" Vogel, BSF '69 San Antonio Paul K. Willis, BSA '83 Tifton, GA 2009 Donald T. Bennink Bell Carrol Wayne Hawkins, BSA '60 Orlando H. Ed Jowers, BSA '64, MS '78 Marianna 2008 Sherwood "Buddy" Johnson, BA '66, MA '68 Fort Pierce 2007 *Kathleen R. Eubanks, BS '75, MAG '81 The Hon. Oma "Rick" Minton, Jr., BSA '72, MAMRD '73 Fort Pierce 2006 *William "Pat" Cockrell, BSA '68 Louis E. "Woody" Larson, Jr., BSA '73 Okeechobee 2005 W. Bernard "Bernie" Lester, BSA '61, MSA '62 Labelle Frank "Sonny" Williamson, Jr., BSA '50 Okeechobee 2004 Martha Rhodes Roberts Tallahassee Eleanor M. Green, BSA '00 Millican, TX 2003 Neal Palmer "Pal" Brooks, BSA '61 Homestead Gale A. Buchanan, BSA '59, MSA '62 Adel, GA 2002 *The Hon. Doyle E. Conner, Sr., BSA '52 Hugh M. English, BSA '58 Labelle 2001 Reginald "Reggie" Brown, BSA '69, MSA '73 Oviedo *Sidney P. Marshall, BS '38 2000 The Hon. Bert J. Harris, Jr., BSA '43 Lake Placid *Fred Y. Montsdeoca, BSPEH '51 1999 Louis E. "Red" Larson Okeechobee Carl B. Loop, Jr., BSA '49 Jacksonville 1998 *B. E. "Barney" Greene, Jr., BSA '47 John Clover "Jack" Norris, BSA '56 Palm City Norman Todd, BSA '54 Labelle 1997 Charles "Chip" Hinton, III, BSA '69, MSA '71, Ph.D. '72 Brandon Larry K. Jackson, MSA '63, Ph.D. '72 Auburndale *Richard F. Kelly, BSA '60, M.Ed. '63
Horizon Award Recipients
Horizon Award Recipients
Year Name Hometown 2018 Avery Sams LeFils, BSA '11 Lake Helen Bernie LeFils, BSA '11 Lake Helen 2017 Juan Castro-Anzola, BSA '04, MAB '06 Orlando Yael Spektor, BSA '07, MS '09 Orlando 2016 Ashley Hughes, BSA '06, MS '08 Saint Cloud 2015 Keri Milligan Sidle, BSA '10 Plymouth, MN 2014 D. Flint Johns, BSA '04, MAB '06 Okeechobee Luis F. Martinez, BSA '05, MS '07 Jacksonville 2013 Kelly Padgett Mosley, BSA '04 Green Cove Springs Crystal Snodgrass, BSA '03, MS '05 Palmetto 2012 James T. DeValerio, BSF '81, MS '10 Starke Brian Estevez, BSA '04, MS '07 Live Oak 2011 Cindy Sanders, BSA '91, MS '05 Micanopy Jim Spratt, BSA '01 Tallahassee 2010 Bridget Carlisle, BSA '95, MAG '05 Highland City Gillian Folkes Dagan, BSA '00, Ph.D. '04 Gainesville 2009 Sharon Spann Spratt, BSA '00, MS '02 Tallahassee 2008 Emily Eckhardt Eubanks, BSA '01, MS '04 Micanopy 2007 E. James Stice, BSA '97 Highland City 2006 Erin Freel, BSA '96 Weirsdale 2005 Anita Arvind Dhople, BSA '92, MD '96 Melbourne *Mason G. Smoak, BSA '97 2003 The Hon. Adam H. Putnam, BS '95 Bartow
CALS Alumni and Friends Scholarship Recipients
CALS Alumni and Friends scholarship recipients
Year Name 2017 Jacob White, BSA '18 Agricultural Education and Communication Romae Morgan, Nutritional Sciences 2016 Jonathan Heavner, BSA '17 Agricultural Education and Communication 2015 Alexandra Lemus, BSA '15 Animal Sciences 2014 Weier Liu, BSA '15 Biology Meagan Lamothe, BSA '15 Food Science and Human Nutrition 2013 Kendra Harmon, BSA '14 Food Science & Human Nutrition 2012 Daniel Leckie, BSA '13 Agricultural Education & Communication Katelyn Malin, BSA '13 Animal Sciences 2011 Christine Johns, BSA '12 Horticultural Science Alexandra Rozin, BSA '12 Soil & Water Science 2010 Sarahlynne Guerrero, BSA '11 Entomology & Nematology 2009 Benjamin Anderson, BSA '10 Entomology & Nematology Zachary Hirsch, BSA '10 Microbiology & Cell Science Christopher Marth, BSA '11 Microbiology & Cell Science 2008 Kristin Harrison, BSA '10 Animal Sciences 2007 Alexander King, AA '09 Biology 2006 Jamie Eisenberg, BSA '07 Family, Youth & Community Sciences 2005 Matthew Fournier, BSA '07 Microbiology & Cell Science 2004 Jason Beutke, BSA '07 Food & Resource Economics 2003 Elizabeth Raburn, BSA '04, MS '05 Agricultural Education & Communication 2002 Joshua Brown, BSA '03 Agricultural Education & Communication 2001 Kyle Hudson, BSA '02 Agricultural Education & Communication 2000 Christina (Fulford) Bosse, BSA '01 Plant Sciences 1999 Ralph Yoder, BSA '01 Food & Resource Economics 1998 John Eubanks, BSA '00 Agricultural Operations Management Amanda (McKoy) Huber, BSA '92 Agronomy, MAG '02 Agricultural Education & Communication Ronald Pearl, BSA '96, MAB '00 Food & Resource Economics 1997 William Farmer, BSA '98 Animal Sciences
NAADA Awards Recipients
NAADA Awards Recipients
The National Agricultural Alumni and Development Association provides education and support for professionals, volunteers and student leaders who are dedicated to expanding the human resources and financial support for land-grant colleges of agricultural sciences and related programs.
Volunteer Service Award
Year Name Hometown 2010 Charles "Chip" Hinton, III Brandon 2006 Roger Scarborough Gainesville 2004 K. Scott Emerson Bell 2002 Kevin Huesman Lake City 2000 George Pickhardt Venice 1998 Bruce Christmas, Sr. Cottondale
Jane Longley-Cook Volunteer Service Award
Year Name Hometown 2006 Kevin Huesman Lake City
Ruby C. McSwain Outstanding Philanthropist Award
Year Name Hometown 2017 Wayne Smith Melrose 2010 Joel and Shirley Wahlberg Houston, TX
Professional Achievement Award
Year Name Hometown 2000 Paul Willis Tifton, GA
NAADA Founders Distinguished Service Award
Year Name Hometown 2008 Paul Willis Tifton, GA
- Malissa Redden, Program Assistant
- Cathy Herren Carr, Director, Alumni and Career Services
Keri Milligan Sidle, BSA '10, was recognized with the CALS Alumni and Friends Horizon Award at the 2015 UF/IFAS Dinner of Distinction.