Newswise — HOMESTEAD, Fla. - State representatives, Miami Dade city officials, South Florida business leaders and residents gathered for an evening themed One Night in the Tropics to celebrate the rich history of a Homestead agricultural icon – the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center (TREC).
Nearly 200 guests enjoyed live music, dancing, a variety of libations, fine dining selections featuring local exotic fruits and vegetables, and the opportunity to bid on several one-of-a-kind auction items. The evening, highlighting 90 years of research and outreach activities at UF/IFAS TREC, also served to kickstart a capital campaign designed with future graduate students and scientists at the core of its strategic initiatives. The event took place at the Coral Gables Country Club recently.
During the evening, TREC Center Director Dr. Edward “Gilly Evans announced a $100,000 gift donated by University of Florida’s Emeritus Professors Drs. Carlton Davis and Pauline Lawrence who were unable to attend the celebration. The gift was made in support of the vision outlined for the Center and specifically toward the Student Housing Campaign that now has $200,000 toward its $600,000 goal. Plans are to break ground by 2021 on an eight-bedroom, four-bath residence hall with kitchen and living area that will house an additional eight graduate students. State and federal funds are not available for residence halls thus making the need for private fundraising. Historically, graduate students have been at the core of advancing agricultural research at TREC by learning from the scientists who mentor them in the areas of grower’s needs.
“We are so grateful for the generosity and support of Drs. Davis and Lawrence,” said Evans. “Onsite housing is vital to recruiting talented and qualified graduate students who also support scientists. Supporting the housing needs of our future scientists is vital as they focus on developing crucial solutions to sustainably cultivating food for a growing population, while protecting our environment and conserving our natural resources.”
UF/IFAS TREC was established in 1929 to develop solutions for problems affecting a wide range of crops including mangoes, papayas, tomatoes, avocados, corn, green beans, and squash. TREC scientists, students, and staff have collaborated with farmers and growers to keep South Florida agriculture thriving. As one of the research arms of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), it is the only state supported university facility in the entire mainland United States conducting research on a wide array of tropical and subtropical crops. UF/IFAS TREC’s core values have provided 90 years of progressive and innovative research and extension outreach on tropical and subtropical fruit crops, traditional and tropical vegetables, tropical ornamental crops, and more recently on agronomic crops and natural resources.
Today, TREC is recognized locally, nationally, and internationally as a leading research and educational institution for tropical and subtropical horticulture and natural resources and contributes to the economic development and enhancement of the quality of life in Florida.
Leaders from various organizations including Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, Tropical Fruit Growers of South Florida, Dade County Farm Bureau, Farm Credit of Florida, and private businesses were present in support of the event. Auction items included several one-of-a-kind pieces by renown artist Robert L. Chaplin, naming rights to an orchid from internationally recognized Motes Orchids Nursery, a commemorative Miami HEAT Team Autographed basketball, a NASCAR Championship suite package and a UF vs FSU football ticket package for two.
Sponsors making One Night in the Tropics a success included Arazoza Brothers Corp., Miami-Dade County Fair Exposition, Inc., Mix’d Greens, Nature’s Way Farm, Richard and Patricia Alger, Railroad Nursery, Costa Farms, Silver Vase, Agri Council, Alison & Mike Depew, Corteva Agriscience, Dade County Farm Bureau, Farm Credit of Florida, Hammockwood Tropical Country Estate, Bill & Doylene Losner, Miracle Fruit Farm, LLC, Motes Orchids, Native Tree Nursery, The Nursery Report, Pine Island Nursery, Atlantic Saphhire, NASCAR, Tamiami International Orchid Festival, TESLA, Baptist Health South Florida, Harris Contractor, Richard Lyons Nursery, Inc., Tropical Fruit Growers of South Florida, The Nursery Report, DIAGEO, and PepsiCo.
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media..