Three industry leaders will be inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame during the celebration luncheon, March 2, at Florida Southern College in Lakeland.
The inductees are Robert J. Barben of Avon Park, Frank M. Hunt II of Lake Wales, and Bernie Lester of Lakeland, according to a news release.
• Barben, president of Robert J. Barden Inc., was a fouunding member of the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association and the Florida Agricultural Tax Council.
He also served on the Florida Department of Citrus Marketing Advisory Council since its inception in 1969 and served as chairman for more than 20 years.
• A fifth-generation Floridian, Hunt is chairman of the 83-year-old Hunt Bros Inc., which was founded by his father, Deeley Hunt.
The younger Hunt played a key role in developing the Citrus World Inc. cooperative, now known as Florida's Natural. He also was a board member of Citrus World for more than 50 years, serving as president and chairman from 1973 to 2003.
• Lester worked for the Florida Department of Citrus for nearly 20 years, beginning as a research economist and ending as executive director in 1979.
During his tenure, the industry faced several challenges, including devastating freezes, trade and tariff battles, increased imports, diseases and orange juice adulterators.
Following his sting with the state, he joined Alico Inc., where he served on the board for nearly 20 years. He also served on the board of Orange-Co. Inc. and the Gulf Coast Citrus Growers Association.
For more information on the inductee luncheon, visit www.floridacitrushalloffame.com.