Tag Archive: Davis

Reflections from Graduating Seniors: Alex Davis

Alex Davis is a graduating senior from Leon County 4-H

Six years ago, Alex’s grandmother registered her to attend summer camp at Cherry Lake with Leon County 4-H and she hasn’t looked back since!

Alex has become one of the shining stars of the Leon County 4-H program. She has held positions of Parliamentarian, Secretary, and Vice President of the Leon County 4-H Leadership Council. She has served as a member of our Banquet Planning Committee and for the past four summers, Alex has volunteered her time as a counselor at Robotics, Sewing, Cooking, and Gardening camps. She is raised by her grandparents, Suzane Parke and Sidney Jenkins and is the oldest of three siblings.

Alex’s leadership and responsibility truly shine when she is leading and helping youth. One of her favorite 4-H experiences was assisting a group of robotics camp participants complete a challenge: “We were scrambling to finish our car. It was so great to see the look of accomplishment on the kids’ faces.”

Alex has helped teach a variety of 4-H programs during her six-year membership.

Alex is a wonderful representative of 4-H. Perhaps more importantly, she is a stellar student. When Alex first joined 4-H, she talked about her future enrollment in the IB program at Rickards High School. I remember this discussion vividly because I was extremely impressed with the maturity of a then-thirteen year old explaining how she would be reducing her participation in order to focus on school. Four years, hard work, late nights, and hard choices – many times causing her to choose between 4-H and homework – she has accomplished her goal.

Alex was accepted into the University of Florida where she will begin this summer. “I plan to study animal biology. And eventually Veterinary Medicine. Real STEMMY things. And I want to have an impact on people, but not work directly with them. So I figure helping their pets is pretty close.”

One of her favorite experiences has been learning about how food is produced. Alex will extend her learning at the University of Florida’s College of Agriculture this fall.

Curious, we asked Alex why she chose to keep coming back to 4-H. As a driven student, active member of Young Marines and other youth organizations, many things could have pulled her from the program. Alex said: “It was fun. I learned things I never knew…like how to sew a pillow! That will come in handy in college. And the adults…Ms. Stefanie was awesome. Ms. Heidi was great. And the other adults were always so helpful and nice.”

We will definitely miss Alex’s smiling face and bubbling personality around our office this summer, but we are so proud of our 2017 graduate! 

PG

Author: Stefanie Prevatt – sduda1@ufl.edu


http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu/4h

Stefanie Prevatt

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/05/25/reflections-from-graduating-seniors-alex-davis/

Jerry Davis honored as the 2015 Northwest Florida Agricultural Innovator of the Year

Jerry Davis honored as the 2015 Northwest Florida Agricultural Innovator of the Year

Jerry Davis mugshotOn Tuesday August 4, 2015, twelve Innovative Farmers and Ranchers were recognized by University of Florida IFAS Extension and Farm Credit of Northwest Florida at the Jefferson County Opera House, in Monticello.  This is the fifth year these two organizations have teamed up to honor a selection of the most innovative farmers from the Florida Panhandle.

The purpose of the Agriculture Innovator Recognition Program is to annually recognize innovative farmers and ranchers from 16 Florida Panhandle counties, from Jefferson west to Escambia County.  In 2015, County Agriculture Extension Agents selected 12 Agricultural Innovators to be recognized.

All of the county honorees have distinguished themselves as creative thinkers and leaders in the agricultural community.  From this group of elite farmers that were honored by their home county, one is selected annually to represent Northwest Florida. This year Jerry Davis of Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, was selected as the Northwest Florida Agriculture Innovator of the Year.  Jerry Davis was nominated by Libbie Johnson, Escambia County Extension Agent and Mike Donahoe, Santa Rosa County Extension Director.  Read Jerry’s story below.  The 11 other Agricultural Innovators nominated this year will be featured on the Panhandle Ag e-News over the coming weeks.

Jerry Davis CombineJerry Davis

Northwest Florida Agricultural Innovator of the Year

Submitted by: Libbie Johnson, Escambia County Extension & Mike Donahoe, Santa Rosay County Extension

Jerry Davis has been at the forefront of agricultural success in Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties for many years. He has been a very progressive leader in many movements to improve farming techniques throughout the state. He comes from a farming family, growing soybeans and wheat in his youth. The family tradition of farming continues to this day as his wife Patty, and daughter Caitlynn have been very active in the farming operation that has included cotton, peanuts, wheat, corn, soybeans, vegetables, livestock, and other crops.  Early on, Jerry designed a seed conditioning plant (to clean and bag seed for planting) at age 20 for the family farm, and after that, he began farming in 1984. The family was working with Dr. Ron Barnett, UF/IFAS Small Grains Breeder, and Dr. Robert Kinloch, UF/IFAS Nematologist, doing a lot of crop variety and nematode trials on their farm.

Jerry has been on the cutting edge in adopting new technology for agriculture. In 1987, he became involved with Extension in testing the Gossym-Comax cotton crop simulation model and expert system developed by scientists in USDA-ARS and Mississippi State and Clemson Universities.  Jerry attended several training sessions with the agent at Mississippi State University, and tested the model for many years on his farm. The computer model benefited program participants by allowing them to optimize inputs in relation to weather, nitrogen, moisture stress, crop maturity, growth resultants, and harvest aid materials. Data collected was
provided to researchers for model improvement. Data showed that growers participating in the project increased net profits on test fields by more than $ 30 per acre.

The Davis Farm started doing no-till in 1985, well ahead of the trend. One of his neighbors asked when they were going to plant in the wheat field, and he said, “It’s already up.” Over the years, he’s diversified into other row crops as well as livestock and vegetables, but his mainstay has always ben row crops. In the late 90s, he began to expand to Escambia County, Florida, and later to Escambia, Baldwin, and Hale Counties in Alabama. He was the only peanut grower in Hale County and one of the first peanut growers in Baldwin County.  He was one of the first to grow 30-inch twin row peanuts, has tried 15-inch cotton, and uses grid sampling and precision agriculture to fine tune his operation that covers multiple thousands of acres. He works with Southeastern Cotton Growers and was funded by a project to utilize a VERIS rig to determine conductivity and soil types to predict where nematodes might be more prevalent.

Jerry is widely considered an early adopter of innovations and is ready and willing to try new concepts on his farm. He has partnered with UF/IFAS on variety trials and projects over the years, but most recently, he has tried his hand at growing carinata (Brassica carinata).  Carinata resembles mustard as a young plant but can reach four to six feet in height at full maturity. It is high in erucic and linoleic acids and has less than 7% saturated fatty acids. These  characteristics make it a desirable oil that can be processed into a ready-to-use or “drop-in” bio-fuel.  Because the oil is high in erucic acid, it is considered a nonfood oilseed crop.  Carinata has the potential to help meet the renewable energy demands of the United States without posing a threat to food production. Researchers are working to determine if carinata can be successfully grown in the Panhandle for use as oilseeds. The seeds would be crushed, and the resulting product would be refined for use as a renewable source of jet fuel. This winter and spring, Jerry planted a significant acreage in partnership with Dr. David Wright, UF/IFAS Agronomist, to determine the viability of this region for production of carinata. Not only does Jerry adopt practices, he helps researchers develop the agronomic practices that will serve all producers in this region.

Improving Agriculture through Extension Involvement

Jerry & Caitlynn Davis

Jerry Davis & daughter Caitlynn

Jerry Davis has served on the Santa Rosa County Extension Overall Advisory Committee as well as the Santa Rosa Agriculture Advisory Committees. He has hosted the, now famous, Santa Rosa Farm Tour, the Santa Rosa Young Leaders Tour, and collaborated with Extension to host the Agriculture Legislative Tour for Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties. He has partnered with Escambia County Extension to offer the Ag Leadership Institute Tours. He is currently serving on the UF/IFAS Regional Advisory Committee, and the West Florida Research and Education Center Advisory Committee. He is also a past member of the North Florida Research and Education Center Advisory Committee. He was the recipient of the 2009 UF/IFAS NFREC Hall of Fame Award for work supporting research and extension programs in Quincy, Marianna and the Panhandle. He was recognized in 2006 for his contributions to Extension by the Florida Association of County Agricultural Agents as a Friend of Extension.

Though he and his crew are busy farming multiple thousands of acres, he has always had time to work with Extension through committee work, as the leader of a tour, or as a sounding board. Jerry has a ready smile and a willingness to help people. For the past several years, he has played a major role in the West Florida Research and Education Center’s Farm-City Week Celebration. His farm purchases and donates the sweet potatoes that are included in the box of Thanksgiving food that is given to pre-qualified needy recipients in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. Much of the produce in the box is grown at the WFREC, but the sweet potatoes come from Baldwin County, courtesy of the Davis Family.

Impacting Agriculture in Northwest Florida

Jerry & Patty Davis

Jerry & Patty Davis

Jerry is very civic minded and has worked diligently to advance the interests of the farming community. For many years he has been a spokesman for farmers at the local, state, and national levels. He has worked with policy makers to ensure disaster legislation and positive Federal Farm Bills. He was instrumental in obtaining $ 600K of state funding for cotton hardlock research over a three year period. He has served as a director of the Florida and Southeastern Boll Weevil Eradication Foundations since the program’s implementation in 1987. As a result of the Boll Weevil Eradication Program’s success, boll weevils have not caused economic yield losses for cotton growers since the early 90s. Upon the program’s completion it was estimated that eradication of the boll weevil benefited growers at the rate of $ 60 per acre annually.  Jerry has served and continues to serve agriculture and his community in many other capacities including:

  • Farm Bureau – District I Florida Farm Bureau Director since 2009. Has served on various American Farm Bureau Advisory Committees including Peanut/Cotton and Issues and Policy.
  • Santa Rosa County Farm Bureau President
  • National Cotton Council – Has served as the State Unit Officer for Florida for many years
  • Chairman of the Ag Research Committee for Cotton Incorporated
  • Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Peanut Advisory Committee member
  • Southern Cotton Growers Farm Bill Task Force member
  • Florida and Southeastern Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, Inc. Board member
  • Past President of Florida Soybean Association
  • Past Florida Peanut Producers Association Board member
  • Past Florida Foundation Seed Producers Board Member
  • Past Chairman of the Santa Rosa Farm Service Agency County Committee
  • 2001 Conservation Farmer of the Year in Escambia County
  • 1991 Good Year Conservation Farmer in Santa Rosa County
  • 1988 Santa Rosa County Farm Family of the Year (Mr.& Mrs. John H. Davis, Jerry, and brother Joel)
  • Has been on 12 mission trips to Central and South America

 

Print

 

UF IFAS Ext 2013

 

 

 

 

The University of Florida/IFAS Northwest Florida  Extension District and Farm Credit of Northwest Florida are proud partners of the annual  Agricultural Innovator Recognition Program.

 

PG

Author: Libbie Johnson – libbiej@ufl.edu

Agriculture agent at UF IFAS Escambia County Extension.
http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/

Libbie Johnson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/08/08/jerry-davis-honored-as-the-2015-northwest-florida-agricultural-innovator-of-the-year/

Ray & Wanda Davis Santa Rosa County Agricultural Innovators

Ray & Wanda Davis were recognized as Agricultural Innovators by Blake Thaxton, Santa Rosa County Extension

Ray & Wanda Davis were recognized as Agricultural Innovators by Blake Thaxton, Santa Rosa County Extension

On Thursday August 21, 2014, twelve Innovative Farmers and Ranchers were recognized by University of Florida IFAS Extension and Farm Credit of Northwest Florida at the Jefferson County Opera House, in Monticello.  This is the fourth year these two organizations have teamed up to honor a selection of the most innovative farmers from the Florida Panhandle.

The purpose of the Agriculture Innovator Recognition Program is to annually recognize innovative farmers and ranchers from 16 Florida Panhandle counties, from Jefferson west to Escambia County.  In 2014, County Agriculture Extension Agents selected 12 Agricultural Innovators to be recognized.

All of the county honorees have distinguished themselves as creative thinkers and leaders in the agricultural community.  This year Ray and Wanda Davis were honored as Agriculture Innovators by Santa Rosa County Extension .  Read more about the Davis Family and their Clear Creek Farm below.  The other Agricultural Innovators nominated this year will be featured in Panhandle Ag e-News over the coming weeks.

Will Wanda and Ray Davis of Clear Creek Farm in Santa Rosa County.  Photo credit:  Blake Thaxton

Will, Wanda, and Ray Davis of Clear Creek Farm in Santa Rosa County. Photo credit: Blake Thaxton

Ray & Wanda Davis Santa Rosa County Agricultural innovators

Submitted by Blake Thaxton, Santa Rosa County Extension

Ray and Wanda Davis are the owners of Clear Creek Farm north of Milton in Santa Rosa County. Ray spent a career in Insurance and Financial services while Wanda was an English professor at Pensacola Junior College. After retiring from their careers, Ray and Wanda decided to fulfill their dream, to operate a small fruit and vegetable farm. They bought the beginnings of their farm in 2004, with a shell of a horse barn, a well and 30 acres of hilly thick forest being the attributes it boasted at that time. Ray and Wanda’s son, Will, has also been a major contributor from the very beginning. Will designed, using his background as an artist, the concepts for the terraced production garden and also does much of the heavy lifting needed around the farm.

Clear Creek Farm is a small sustainable agritourism farm. The farm has a vegetable production area with fresh specialty heirloom vegetables and herbs that are sold to the Global Grill in Pensacola. The Davises also give farm tours to individuals, local school groups and other groups interested in seeing a solar powered fresh produce farm in operation.  A big part of the farm has been the hands-on workshops offered to the public on subjects such as grafting or square foot gardening. As part of the grafting course, Ray also sells the low chill hour apple trees that he grafts.

Solar units provide electricity for the house and farm.  Photo credit:  Blake Thaxton

Solar units provide electricity for the house and farm. Photo credit: Blake Thaxton

Clear Creek Farm, like many of the farms in Santa Rosa County, went without power for an extended amount of time after Hurricane Ivan in 2004. This led Ray to explore solar energy in an effort to be more self-sufficient, and the timing was right with many State and Federal incentives to use solar energy. They added standard solar panels and a solar hot water heater to the existing horse barn, and peel and stick thin film photovoltaic panels to the main production barn as it was under construction. The thin-film panels roll out flat and are adhered to the flat pan of a standing seam metal roof system, which creates a lower profile than traditional glass solar panels. These panels are also extremely efficient in low light conditions. The panels generate approximately 15 kilowatts to use any time on the farm on any given sunny day or to store into deep cycle marine batteries for use at night or on cloudy days. The farm generates more power than is needed at times and is able to turn the power meter backwards. The excess electricity is sold back to the local power company.  Due to the solar energy system the farm’s power bill can be as little as $ 20 per month. The charges are because, “Gulf Power won’t sell me the meter and I have to pay the meter and franchise fees.” To take their energy savings to the next level, the Davises bought a hybrid vehicle to drive to and from the farm. While at the farm they connect the vehicle to the system and it can be charged in an hour and a half. The gas tank in the vehicle is 10 gallons and he has only filled it three times since December of 2013. The Davis family finds great satisfaction in generating their own energy. Ray says “I’m not a smug greeny, but I take great satisfaction that I could unplug from the grid and live comfortably if I had to.”

The Clear Creek Farm has about 15 to 20 natural springs on the property. They have used the springs to the farm’s benefit by taking advantage of the constant temperature throughout the year. The spring water is pumped to their high tunnel structure where it runs through loops of geo-thermal pipes 4-6 inches under the soil. After using the spring water through the geo-thermal technique to cool crops in the summer and heat them in the winter, it is then pumped farther into the rainwater retention area that doubles as a reservoir for the drip irrigation systems and a water source in case of fire. Excess water spills over the retention area and continues into a built dry creek bed and back to its original low swamp destination. The project was completed in conjunction with the local soil conservation service.

Improving Agriculture through Extension

Clear Creek Farm has been very involved with extension since the very beginning. Since Ray and Wanda both come from careers outside of Agriculture, they have both attended many extension events such as protected agriculture and hydroponics to expand their knowledge.  One of the workshops that the Davises attended was one that former Commercial Horticulture Agent Dan Mullins taught on deciduous fruit grafting. Dan had been working on bringing the Shell apple, a low chill apple developed in the area in the mid 1800s, back into production in northwest Florida. After attending the workshop and becoming more familiar with the Shell apple 4-H project, Ray saw the demand for the heritage apple and began to graft them for production. He planted an orchard at the farm and continues to get Shell scion from that orchard and the Extension demonstration orchard at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center.

Ray and Wanda Davis serve on the Naturally EscaRosa advisory committee that is an initiative led by UF/IFAS Extension. Naturally EscaRosa is a website that is dedicated to the development and promotion of Agritourism and Ecotourism in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. As advisory members, the Davises work with agriculture and natural resource Extension Agents to help promote the effort. Clear Creek Farm also worked with Extension on the 47th Annual Santa Rosa County Farm Tour in 2014. The farm showed a different perspective on agriculture than traditional farms in Santa Rosa County. Extension worked with the Davises to show off the farm to more than 200 tour attendees.

Middle School students receive hands-on training at Clear Creek Farm.

Middle School students receive hands-on training at Clear Creek Farm.

Impacting Agriculture in Northwest Florida

As the owners of an Agritourism farm and learning center, it is their mission to promote agriculture to the local community and Northwest Florida. Clear Creek Farm has accomplished this in many ways through community outreach. Ray and Wanda work closely with Carol Spice, a teacher at King Middle school in Milton. Carol leads a student gardening club called Earth Movers. The Davises use Clear Creek Farm as an advisory farm to the club. The club has taken several field trips out to the farm where Ray and Wanda are able to teach the school children with hands-on activities. Local churches and home school groups also are familiar with the farm and are frequent visitors to be exposed to agriculture. As another part of promoting sustainable agriculture in Northwest Florida, Clear Creek Farm has been involved with the Santa Rosa County Beaches to Woodlands Tour. The tour is a series of 40 stops in Santa Rosa County that highlights tourist attractions other than the beaches. Ray also donates low chill apple trees that he has from his grafting project to schools and churches. He believes strongly that as the nation’s farms shrink and the farming community as a group continues to get older, the young people of the nation need to be exposed to agriculture and self-sufficiency.

 

You might also be interested in the stories of other Agricultural Innovators highlighted in previous weeks:

Simpson Nurseries NW FL Agricultural Innovators of the Year

Yoder Family Escambia County Agricultural Innovators

 

PG

Author: Blake Thaxton – bthaxton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Blake Thaxton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/10/09/ray-wanda-davis-santa-rosa-county-agricultural-innovators/