World-famed horticulturist Egbert Norman Reasoner introduced pink grapefruit to Florida. John M. Fox became Florida’s pioneer in the development of frozen concentrated orange juice. And Lillie “Belle” Jeffords, a widowed mother of four girls in 1960, persevered through tragedy, continued to farm and became one of the Florida cattle industry’s most beloved and effective ambassadors.
These agricultural leaders are among nearly 150 inductees added to the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame since it was founded in 1980. The stories inspire and are worth a look online at FloridaAgHallofFame.org. At the website, visitors can view written biographies and watch videos that tell the contributing story of each of Florida’s greatest agriculturalists.
“Every one of them is unique, and they are all uniquely significant contributors to the business,” says Reggie Brown, president of the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame Foundation. “The Ag Hall of Fame started because there was a sense in the industry that the people who made the contributions that the Hall of Fame recognized should be held up to not only our industry, but to the youth in the state as examples of people who have dedicated themselves to serving others for the betterment of agriculture.”
The Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame honors men and women who have made lasting contributions to agriculture in this state. Induction into the Hall of Fame has become the Florida agriculture industry’s highest achievement to honor tireless, unselfish efforts that advance, promote and protect Florida agriculture.
“The Ag Hall of Fame is considered the premier agricultural recognition process in the state,” Brown says. “It’s the one occasion when the agriculture interests in the state come together to honor significant contributors to Florida agriculture.”
The Hall of Fame also mentors Florida youth, who represent the future of agriculture. About 50 high school or college students attend the annual banquet and induction ceremony in February to interact with the inductees and other agricultural leaders.
In addition, the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame Foundation offers up to 10 scholarships valued at $500 to encourage high school graduates or college students to continue their education. The foundation announces the recipients at the Ag Hall of Fame Banquet in February, a time to honor past, current and future agriculturalists of Florida.