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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.

Horizon Award

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



Richard Barber, BSA ’61, was recognized with the CALS Alumni and Friends Award of Distinction

Keri Milligan Sidle, BSA '10, was recognized with the CALS Alumni and Friends Horizon Award at the 2015 UF/IFAS Dinner of Distinction.