The Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame welcomed six producers into its hallowed halls in 2015. Those honored for their positive impact on agriculture are:
Alvin C. Warnick
A retired animal sciences professor with the University of Florida, Alvin C. Warnick is credited with furthering reproduction techniques in cattle. He served as an important mentor to many in the industry and has had a distinguished career as a reproductive physiologist. At the age of 94, Warnick continues to influence innovative worldwide research and practices. Warnick was recognized for his work as a fellow in the American Society of Animal Science and by the University of Florida College of Agriculture as Student Advisor of the Year.
Duda & Sons
Following in the footsteps of brothers John, Andrew Jr. and Ferdinand, who were inducted in to the Ag Hall of Fame in 1985, the next generation of owners of Oviedo’s Duda & Sons – Edward, Ferdinand and Joseph Duda – all received the Hall honor this year. All three men have led their family company in the years spanning 1977 to 2010.
“We had the reins of Duda for 32 years,” Edward Duda says. “We are pleased and thankful to have been able to pass on to the fourth generation a successful, well-run company. This is an achievement only three percent of private family-owned companies in the world are able to accomplish. It is a real tribute and credit to the third-generation family members and company employees that made it happen.”
Duda & Sons is known throughout the agricultural industry for being the first to minimize the use of pesticides and to offer a diverse range of agricultural commodities.
“Our recognition into the Ag Hall of Fame is a testament to what can be accomplished when a team of dedicated employees support a vision, and when the Lord blesses our joint efforts as we work together to deliver that vision,” says Joseph Duda. “My cousin Ed, my brother F.S. and I were the leadership, but our employees deserve the credit for our accomplishments.”
The Duda farm also established the world’s largest celery breeding program.
“Our celery breeding program evolved as the Florida celery industry became too small to afford the programs,” F.S. Duda says. “We decided to take over the program and hired Gene Hill (plant breeder) to head up this research. We considered this an investment in our celery production, rather than an extra cost. It has become a real success as some great improvements have been made and now belong to Duda, which gives us advantages in the celery industry.”
Peyton Turner Wilson
A cattle rancher, citrus grower and president of the Latt Maxcy Corp., the late Peyton “Pat” Turner Wilson owned the Crooked Lake Ranch for more than three decades. Wilson advanced the causes of the industry and served as a two-term president of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.
Robert Blake Whisenant
Robert Blake Whisenant was honored for his innovative Earth Box, an industry-defining tool that reduces watering and fertilizer needs. The Earth Box is a 30-inch-long plactic container filled with Whisenant’s recipe for soil and fertilizer and blanketed with a mulch cover to keep rainwater out. Plants are watered daily through a built-in tube, creating a self-contained miniature garden that bursts with produce.
A 41-year veteran with the Florida Department of Education, Belinda Chason was named the 2014 winner of the Woman of the Year Agricultural Award.
An enthusiastic advocate and leader of numerous efforts to advance the future of agriculture education, Chason also served as the state’s FFA advisor for more than 15 years to further both FFA and agriscience education statewide.