Center Director's Message
As we reflect on our history, I am continually proud of the outstanding success of our Center’s programs. For over 75 years, we have pursued a single mission - to serve the owners and managers of Florida’s grazinglands. During this time certain characteristics have become a way of life for our faculty. The top of this list is our commitment to scholarship and a personal dedication to the clientele we serve. This commitment has been handed down from each Center Director, starting from Dr. Kirk at our establishment, to Dr. Chapman in 1965, to Dr. Pate in 1983, and today to myself almost 12 years ago. Our clientele expect and receive knowledge, respect, dedication, and responsiveness from our faculty, but this isn’t enough. Our Center’s commitment to scholarship is the foundation that we’ve built our success and it’s this foundation that will guide us in the future.
I realize the term “scholarship” is often used generically to describe many processes of academic pursuit, but we view it differently. For an explanation, we describe scholarship as creative intellectual thought, validated by peers, and communicated broadly. I like this definition. It is a simple, concise explanation that adheres to our Center’s tripartite commitment to the Land Grant University mission. Creative intellectual thought is the pursuit of science and discovery. It is the first step of the scientific process, the development of a meaningful rationale, and hypothesis testing. The next step is peer-validation. This step is likely the most critical element of effective scholarship, but too often ignored. Lastly, scholarship must be communicated broadly. This reflects our commitment to the principles and ideals of cooperative Extension – to develop and extend meaningful, validated science, to solve problems impacting the stakeholders we serve.
Often, science is created without a commitment to the peer-review process. This is unfortunate. Ona faculty differentiate themselves by fully embracing the pursuit of peer-validation of their science. This characteristic didn’t begin with my directorship. The Journal of Animal Science, the World’s leading scientific journal for the study of animal production, published a paper from our faculty in their first journal printing. Although this occurred nearly 75 years ago, the basis for our commitment to science remains unchanged. Today, the top agricultural journals routinely publish the science created by the Ona faculty. Annually, our Center is among the leading UF/IFAS Units for the metrics reporting the volume of published science. We often say, “If it’s not peer-reviewed, its just our opinion.” Our peer-reviewed science has resulted in improved forage crops, fertilizer practices addressing both economic and environmental pressures, chemical and cultural weed control systems, cowherd nutrition protocols, and management considerations that strengthen the natural resources associated with our grazing landscapes. These science-based discoveries are visible on every ranch in Florida. It’s these outcomes that continually foster and strengthen the long-term relationships between the Ona faculty and the stakeholders we serve.
Please join me in congratulating the former and current faculty and staff of the UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research and Education Center. This 75 year anniversary milestone is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our successful history and to look forward in anticipation of new science and the resulting relationships of the next 25 years.
I encourage you to become involved with your Range Cattle Research and Education Center. There are many opportunities throughout the year to participate in educational activities. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let us know by sending us an E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, you can always reach me personally at my office (863-735-1314 ext. 202), my cell (941-661-8034), or by E-mail: email@example.com.