Citrus Youth Day: Science and Recruiting

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Brandon Page led part of the entomology session at Citrus Youth Day.

Citrus Youth Day at Lake Alfred’s Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) on June 28 gave the University of Florida (UF) a chance to teach a little science and recruit future UF students.

Jamie Burrow, Extension program manager for UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and Citrus Youth Day coordinator, said more than 70 youngsters registered for the program. The youth, aged 8 to 17, rotated through four sessions where they learned about different aspects of citrus. The sessions focused on plant pathology, entomology, horticulture and food science.

Hands-on learning took place in the pathology lab.

“They (youth) are from throughout the state of Florida,” Burrow said. Some were members of Florida 4-H and Future Farmers of America as well as from the general public.

Throughout the day, the students were separated by age: 8- and 9-year-olds were designated grapefruit, 10- and 12-year-olds were lemons; 13- and 14-year-olds were oranges, and 15- to 17-year-olds were limes.

The youngsters conducted some experiments themselves, like one showing how plants take up water. The students also heard presentations from UF/IFAS faculty and staff members.

Included on the agenda was a presentation from UF’s Jason Steward about the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Steward explained the numerous degree programs available and how to enroll.

More than 70 students participated in Citrus Youth Day.

Steward mentioned that Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Heisman Trophy winning UF Gator quarterback Tim Tebow were College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students. Numerous hands went up when the youth were asked if they were interested in attending UF.

“We always want to have another future Gator,” Burrow said.

Hear more from Burrow:

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large