News | June 06, 2019

College of BusinessFeaturedNews

FGCU Center for Agribusiness creates first advisory council

Florida Gulf Coast University’s (FGCU) Center for Agribusiness in the Lutgert College of Business is forming its first advisory council, featuring the “who’s who” in Florida agriculture. The council will advise leadership as the 10-month-old center becomes a resource for the agriculture industry in Southwest Florida.

Members of Florida Gulf Coast University’s Center for Agribusiness’ Advisory Council recently met with President Mike Martin (L-R): Mike Martin, W. Bernard Lester, Charlie Edwards, Miller Couse, Hugh English, Dallas Townsend, Dr. Tim Cordes, Ben Hill Griffin III and Jaime Weisinger.

The FGCU Center for Agribusiness Advisory Council members include:

  • Matt Caldwell, an FGCU alumnus and former member of the Florida House of Representatives. Caldwell previously chaired the Florida House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee. He is the chair of the FGCU Center for Agribusiness Advisory Council.
  • Tim Cordes, the former national coordinator of equine programs within USDA/APHIS Veterinary Services.
  • Miller Couse, the chairman of the board at First Bank, Clewiston, Florida, and the chairman, president and CEO of Pioneer Bankcorp, Inc. Couse previously served as treasurer of the FGCU Foundation Board of Directors.
  • Charlie Edwards, the former chair of the Florida Board of Regents and early advocate for the creation of FGCU.
  • Hugh English, the former general manager and corporate vice president for citrus operations within A. Duda & Sons, Inc. Former Florida Governor Lawton Chiles named English to the Florida Citrus Commission in 1991. English was also inducted into the Citrus Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2008.
  • Ben Hill Griffin III, the former chairman of the board and CEO of Alico, Inc. and major player in the creation of FGCU. Griffin was inducted into the Citrus Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2010. He currently serves as the chairman and CEO of Ben Hill Griffin, Inc.
  • Joe Hilliard II, a partner at Hilliard Brothers of Florida, LTD.
  • Bernard Lester, the former president of Alico, Inc. and a major proponent of FGCU. Lester is the former executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus and served as the secretary of the Gulf Citrus Growers Association. He was inducted into the Citrus Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2016.
  • Stacy Mellow, the senior director of ranches and resource management at A. Duda & Sons, Inc.
  • Russell Priddy, the co-owner of JR Ranch, LLC and former co-owner/operator of Sunniland Enterprises of Collier County. Priddy is a former member of the FGCU Board of Trustees and a board member of the John E. & Aliese Price Foundation.
  • Ken Smith, a member of the FGCU Board of Trustees and the president & CEO of Tarpon Blue. Smith is the former executive vice president and chief operating officer of Alico, Inc. and the former vice president of agricultural operations at Atlantic Blue Group, Inc.
  • Katie Sproul, the CEO of Halstatt, LLC, and former co-president of Barron Collier Companies.
  • Dallas Townsend, the former agent and county director of the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service in Hendry and Collier counties. Townsend was inducted into the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2014.
  • Jaime Weisinger, the director of community and government relations of Lipman Produce.

The FGCU Center for Agribusiness, under the leadership of Fritz Roka and with the support of the advisory council, is designed to assist the agriculture industry with midlevel management training and the development of important business skills – accounting, management and human resources. It will track and distribute information regarding the economic impact and sustainability of agriculture. The Center will also offer educational programs focusing on supply chain management, finance, management and marketing within the industry.

For more information about the FGCU Center for Agribusiness, contact Roka at [email protected].