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“FALL”-o-wing WLI Alumni News

Have you been “FALL”-o-wing your fellow Wedgworth Leadership Institute Alumni?

Here’s what’s coming up and what’s happened recently for AAWLI members!

Annual WLI Alumni Tailgate – cohosted by The Wheeler Family

When:  Saturday, November 18, 2017, TBD (As soon as the game time is announced, we’ll set the time for the tailgate to begin two hours before kickoff.)

Where: White tent on the Reitz Union lawn 

If you’re in town for the game against the mighty University of Alabama Birmingham Blazers, join us for beverages, food and socializing under the tent!

(Heck, even if you don’t have tickets, still plan on joining us as we will have a full media package and playing other important games of the day.)

FNGLA Redux – Annual WLI Reception

The FNGLA Landscape Show Redux has been scheduled for November 2 – 4, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, and with it includes the annual WLI Alumni Reception!

When: November 2nd, 3-4pm

Where: Room W221E West Building of the Orange County Convention Center 9800 International Drive, Orlando, FL

A message from FNGLA Association Executive Linda Adams, Class IV about the reception:

Stay connected with your WLI Alumni friends! There will be time to share what is happening with each of us and our sectors of agriculture, especially post Irma.

Sen. Denise Grimsley, candidate for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services will be stopping by around 3:30 p.m. to say hello. She has been advised that we will have questions to ask her and comments to share – so come ready to engage.

Refreshments will be served!

In conjunction with The Landscape Show Redux, Show badge fees have been waived for this post Irma event.

To learn more information about The Landscape Show Redux, click here.

Class X meets WLI Alumni during National Seminar

During Class X’s National Seminar in Washington D.C., Colorado, and Wyoming, Class X was able to hear from three special WLI alumni who now live out-of-state.

During Class X’s Seminar time in Colorado, Chris Trad, Class VI, and Lauren Trad, Class IX, provided Class X an extensive tour of Strasburg Pharms as well as sponsored lunch for the traveling Class.  The Trads moved from Florida to Colorado in 2015 to grow hemp, and Class X was extremely appreciative of this opportunity to meet these alumni members and learn about hemp production in Colorado during Seminar VII!

Pictured: Lauren Trad, Class IX, “Swampy”, and Chris Trad, Class VI.

Before Class X left Colorado for (the much colder and snowing) state of Wyoming, the group was also able to meet Duane Mathis, Class IX, over dinner.  Duane also relocated from Florida to Colorado in 2015 to work with Rabo AgriFinance.

Pictured: Dr. Hannah Carter, Duane Mathis, Class IX, and Dr. Joe Joyce.

Stay tuned for the next edition of “Let’s Reflect” to learn more about Class X’s experiences during Seminar VII!

WLI Alumni represent at FL Ag Senate Committee Meeting

Several Wedgworth Leadership Institute alumni were called upon to speak about the recent aftermath of Hurricane Irma at a meeting of the Florida Senate Committee on Agriculture.

On October 12th, Highlands County Extension Director Laurie Hurner, Class VII, Florida Citrus Mutual President John Barben, Class VIII, Lykes Bros. Inc Vice President Joe Collins, Class VII, and Butler Oaks Farm Dairy Farmer Ben Butler, Class IX represented their commodities and communities and answered questions from Florida Representatives about the hurricane’s impact on Florida agriculture

See our alumni in action by clicking here!

Laurie Hurner, Class VII (starts at 29:35)


John Barben, Class VIII (starts at 1:33:03)


Joe Collins, Class VII (starts at 1:48:57)


Ben Butler, Class IX (starts at 1:57:27)


George Wedgworth named UF/IFAS Champion at Dinner of Distinction

Dinner of Distinction at the Hilton on Friday, September 29th, 2017.

A most deserved recognition was recently bestowed to the late Mr. George Wedgworth.

At the Sept. 29 UF/IFAS Dinner of Distinction, George Wedgworth, was named as a UF/IFAS Champion for his lifetime support of UF’s mission to further science and education.  In attendance to be recognized on Mr. George Wedgworth’s behalf at the Dinner of Distinction were sons Dennis Wedgworth, Class I, and Doug Wedgworth, as well as grandson Keith Wedgworth, Class VII.

Dinner of Distinction at the Hilton on Friday, September 29th, 2017.

Pictured above: Amanda and Keith Wedgworth, Class VII

Dinner of Distinction at the Hilton on Friday, September 29th, 2017.

Pictured above: Rebecca and Dennis Wedgworth, Class I

Featured in the photo in the below article was UF/IFAS Senior Vice President Jack Payne, Dennis Wedgworth, Class I, Keith Wedgworth, Class VII, and Doug Wedgworth. Click below to read more about the honor.

George Wedgworth named UF/IFAS Champion


FFVA Convention brings together WLI Alumni

As to be expected, many Wedgworth Leadership Institute alumni attended the 74th annual FFVA Convention on September 25th-27th.

Program Director Dr. Hannah Carter was also in attendance and had this to say about the convention:

It was great to see so many WLI alumni at this year’s FFVA convention!  The topics covered (immigration and NAFTA) were timely as Class X prepared for their national seminar the week after the convention.  There are definitely strength in numbers when working on issues—and the WLI is certainly strong when you look at the number of participants we have who represent the fruit and vegetable industries!

Got news to share? 

Send an email to Alumni Coordinator Val McKee at!