(UF/IFAS) — He may hold the title “emeritus,” which means “retired,” but Gene McAvoy remains active with University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension and research, helping bring farmers’ concerns back to UF/IFAS scientists. In fact, he just won the Researcher of the Year Award from the Florida Tomato Committee.
For the past 22 years, McAvoy served UF/IFAS as an Extension agent. The goal of Extension is to “extend” UF/IFAS science to growers, gardeners and its many other stakeholders.
But many UF/IFAS Extension agents, including McAvoy, don’t just bring UF/IFAS science to the public, they provide a voice for growers. So, the tomato committee recognized McAvoy for his work in helping define and implement tomato research that will eventually help farmers.
“I was humbled and honored to be named. This meant a lot to me to know that the growers and industry that I have worked with felt that I made a positive contribution in their businesses,” McAvoy said.
McAvoy has served as researcher, collaborator or facilitator on many research projects through the years.
Michael Schadler, manager of the Florida Tomato Committee and executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange, said growers showed their respect for McAvoy in selecting him as Researcher of the Year.
“Gene’s name quickly rose to the top of the list for consideration when our growers were selecting the Researcher of the Year,” Schadler said. “Although his role in research is on the Extension side, that role has been crucial to helping tomato growers apply the wide range of research that comes out of the UF/IFAS network. Equally important is the feedback that Gene facilitates from growers to the faculty at the various UF/IFAS research centers.”
In his two-plus decades with UF/IFAS, McAvoy has advocated for Southwest Florida farmers and UF/IFAS research. He’s still conducting research and Extension in pest and disease management vegetable variety trials, worker safety training, irrigation management and other areas.
“Gene’s ability to understand the latest research and help growers apply it is a testament to the importance of Extension work,” Schadler said. “Of course, that only works well when you have someone like Gene who makes an effort to know everyone in the industry and to make himself available to growers. If you grow tomatoes or vegetables in Southwest Florida, you definitely know Gene McAvoy, and many have come to rely on his expertise over the years.”
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