Every year, a select few men and women who have made lasting contributions to agriculture in Florida and provided mentoring to young people are named to the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame. Here are profiles of the living inductees for 2007.
As a longtime Sidell cattleman, grower and forester, Berryman “Buster” Longino was accustomed to hosting groups of students on his land to show them environmentally friendly growing and ranching techniques.
Accompanying students on a trip in 2004, not long after Hurricane Charley wreaked devastation over part of Longino’s land, Jono Miller, director of the environmental studies program at New College of Florida in Sarasota, noticed that there was one patch where felled trees and debris had not been salvaged. When asked why he had not cleared the mess, Longino identified an eagle’s nest in the middle of it all that he didn’t want to disturb.
It’s just like Longino, Miller says, to make choices based on what’s right for the land and for the wildlife, not for profits.
Born in Jacksonville in 1926, Longino’s appreciation for the land began at an early age, when he would accompany his father turpentining among the pine trees.
He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and then earned a degree in forestry from the University of Florida, Gainesville.
He started his own cow-calf operation in 1950 on his father’s old turpentine land and eventually expanded Longino Ranch to include timber, sod and 300 acres of oranges and grapefruit. He set aside part of the land for wildlife management.
Longino retired from the day-to-day operations in 2005, but he remains president.
His accomplishments include 20 years of service on the Manasota Basin Board of Water Management and helping establish the Peace River/Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority. He also negotiated a conservation easement on 4,000 acres of his land to protect it from development.
Longino is a member of the Florida Farm Bureau. He has served on the Sarasota Air and Water Pollution Control Board, the New College Environmental Education Advisory Committee and the Sarasota County Environmentally Sensitive Lands Advisory Committee.
He is a past president of the Florida Forestry Council and the Sarasota Cattlemen’s Association, and a founding member of the Myakka Conservancy, a land trust dedicated to the conservation of the Myakka River Watershed. He also was a Sarasota County commissioner.
He has received a wealth of recognition, including a 4-H Lifetime Service Award and the Commissioner’s Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award.
He and his wife, Jane, still live on the ranch. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.
When he took over as manager of the Orlando-based Florida Tomato Committee, Wayne Hawkins was disappointed with the meager attendance at the organization’s annual meeting at a midrange hotel in Belle Glade. He thought a more prestigious venue might attract more growers, so he moved the gathering, eventually ending up at the event’s current location, the Ritz Carlton in Naples.
Attendance rose from 30 or 40 to as many as 350. He created a convention-type atmosphere where growers were able to get to know each other. They discovered they had the same problems, Hawkins says, and they started working together to solve them.
Hawkins, an Orlando resident who has been called “the father of the modern agricultural cooperative exchange,” is responsible for organizing the Florida Sweet Corn Exchange, the South Florida Vegetable Exchange, the Zellwood Sweet Corn Exchange, the Leaf and Radish Exchange and the North Florida Vegetable Growers Exchange. His only reward for those efforts was the satisfaction he received knowing he was helping growers become more efficient and make a better living.
Born in 1932 in Oakland Park, Hawkins served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. During his junior year at the University of Florida, he was a college dealer for an aluminum cookware company, where he managed 40 people. After graduating with a degree in agricultural economics, he worked as manager of production and marketing for the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association before taking the reins of the Florida Tomato Committee in 1974.
“During his 25-year tenure, he helped guide the Florida tomato industry through a time of extreme transition driven by intense foreign competition and unprecedented domestic consolidation,” according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
During many trips to Washington, D.C., Hawkins spoke out in favor of fair trade and against “burdensome government regulations on farmers.”
He worked with youth groups and persuaded the Florida Tomato Exchange to establish a scholarship fund for children of migrant farm workers. When he retired in 1999, he established the Wayne Hawkins Agricultural Scholarship Fund at the University of Florida for students majoring in food and resource economics.
Reggie Brown emphasized that his predecessor’s contributions are not limited to one or two commodities. “His spreading of the philosophy of ‘growers working with growers to help each other’ has benefited Florida agriculture and left an indelible mark on this industry,” Brown says.
For someone so dedicated to the land and to the beef industry, Imogene Yarborough has done a lot of clowning around.
It’s all for a good cause, though. Yarborough, who took a course to become a certified clown, spends two hours applying colorful makeup and dons baggy pants as a clown named “Stripes,” who educates youngsters about the benefits of the parts of a cow.
Although Yarborough had some experience with ranching through her mother’s family, she became seriously involved in 1954 when she married her late husband, Ed Yarborough, also a hall of fame inductee. They settled down on an 8,000-acre ranch in Geneva that had been in her husband’s family for generations.
Running the ranch became a family affair for the couple and their four children, but Yarborough still found time to pursue teaching projects and fill other community and agriculture-related roles, such as promoting the Florida beef industry.
The need to educate children about the environment and agriculture was obvious to her.
“Children are our future,” she says. “If we don’t take some interest in agriculture in the future, our world will be full of cement and houses.”
Yarborough has been president of the Seminole County Farm Bureau for the past eight years, serves on the Seminole County Agriculture Advisory Committee and is active in her church and community.
She served on the Florida Cattlewomen’s board of directors for 12 years, including a stint as president. She also is a longtime member of the National Cattlewomen’s Association.
In addition to visiting schools, she reaches young people through organizations such as Girls Scouts, 4-H and Ag in the Classroom.
At 71, Yarborough hasn’t slowed down much. “The Lord’s blessed me with health to keep going,” she says.
In December, she and her family completed a 40-mile cattle drive she helped coordinate that was reminiscent of the Great Florida Cattle Drive, which she and her husband had helped arrange to mark the state’s 150th year of statehood in 1995.
Jim Handley, executive vice president of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, describes the couple as “outstanding citizens.”
He called the Yarboroughs “people who are good, solid, salt-of-the-earth folks” who appreciate the heritage of the cattle industry, and who “really have a love for the land, the wildlife, the environment.”
Three recognized posthumously
Following are the 2007 Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees who are deceased:
Born in Cordova, Ill., in 1922, Bill Boardman attended the University of Illinois and Iowa State University and served as a fighter pilot during World War II. He moved to California in 1951, where he ran a dairy and cattle ranch and became active in the American Dairy Association of California.
He moved to Florida in 1958 and helped organize the American Dairy Association of Florida. When that organization merged with the Florida Dairy Farmers Federation to form Dairy Farmers Inc., Boardman was named executive vice president of the new group. He held that position until he retired in 1997.
He served on numerous boards and committees and received the Agribusiness Institute of Florida’s White Hat Award in 1987. He also was inducted into the Florida Dairy Hall of Fame.
He died in 2001.
Albert Greenberg was born on a British ship in 1896 and was registered as a U.S. citizen at the American consulate in Odessa, Ukraine. He dropped out of the University of Illinois to join the U.S. Navy when World War I broke out.
He became a traveling salesman after the war, and then he decided that Florida would be a good place to raise fish and plants for the aquarium industry. Greenberg was the first person to successfully open and operate a tropical fish farm and aquatic plant nursery in Florida. He is noted as the founder of Florida’s aquaculture industry as well as for his philanthropic endeavors and mentoring of young aquaculturists.
Greenberg was the first person inducted into the Florida Tropical Fish Farms Association Hall of Fame.
He died in 1993.
Born into a Florida cattle-ranching family in 1931, Ed Yarborough got an early appreciation for the cattle industry and for the importance of land conservation. He, his wife, Imogene—also a Hall of Fame inductee—and their four children ran the Geneva-based ranch with the help of only one outside employee.
The Yarboroughs had a reputation as good stewards of their land and negotiated with the St. Johns River Water Management District to create a 3,400-acre conservation easement on their ranch.
Yarborough served on the board of directors of the Seminole County Farm Bureau, on the Seminole County Soil and Water Conservation Board and was a Seminole County commissioner for eight years. He was president of the Seminole County Cattlemen for 12 years and an honorary director of Florida Cattlemen.
He died in 2000.