Florida Citrus Hall of Fame Announces 2009 Inductees

Gary Cooper Citrus, Florida

LAKELAND, Fla. (FL Citrus Mutual – January 20, 2009) – The Selection Committee for The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame has announced four distinguished leaders will be inducted into the Hall during a Citrus Celebration Luncheon on March 6, 2009.

George Austin of Alva, Jerry Chicone of Orlando, Ben Hill Griffin III of Frostproof and D. Victor Knight Sr. (deceased) of Vero Beach will be honored during the luncheon scheduled to take place at 11:30 a.m. in the Hollis Wellness Center at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. Click on this audio icon to hear more about it in this AgNet broadcast.

Austin, president of George H. Austin, Inc., has been a proponent of the Florida citrus industry for over 50 years. He helped pioneer the formation of the Gulf Citrus Growers Association in southwest Florida and served as its president for three terms. He was a crucial proponent in protecting the citrus tariff on imported orange juice and has been the “voice” of agriculture in southwest Florida, keeping the non-agricultural community aware of the importance of agriculture and dealing with a wide range of issues impacting the citrus industry.

Chicone, aka “Mr. Florida Citrus,” is president of Chicone Groves and his pioneering efforts with the Conserv II project in using reclaimed water to irrigate his groves has won national acclaim. His “Squeeze Oranges, Not Growers” slogan reflects his stance as a huge proponent of the citrus grower and his efforts in working with various museums to preserve the heritage of the Florida citrus industry are well known.

Griffin is known throughout the citrus industry as the only individual officially designated on the Florida Citrus Commission as a grower, packer and processor representative. He has been personally involved in every aspect of the citrus industry, from growing, caretaking, fresh fruit packing, processing, regulatory, marketing and working with IFAS in promoting new research. A true giant of the industry, he has expanded upon his father’s legacy and built Ben Hill Griffin, Inc. into the successful organization it is today.

Knight was co-founder and president of Riverfront Groves for 47 years and was the first person to introduce the Star Ruby grapefruit to Florida. A true leader and ambassador of the Indian River district, he served on many organizations, but always rose above regional differences to address issues for the betterment of the industry.

In addition to the induction ceremonies, the event will also include the unveiling of the new Florida Citrus Hall of Fame web site and Citrus Archive Center at Florida Southern College, which will be located within the McKay Archive Building. The interactive web site will include access to biographies on all members of the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame, noting their accomplishments and including various industry links.

The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame honors distinguished leaders who have made significant contributions to the Florida citrus industry. This year’s event will honor all previous inductees as guests of the Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame members and/or their family members are encouraged to contact Brenda Eubanks Burnette at (561) 351-4314 or John Jackson at (352) 267-3227 for more information.

Tickets to the luncheon, which is sponsored by Florida Citrus Mutual and The Florida Department of Citrus, will be $50 per person; $100 for a Patron member, which ensures a reserved seat and an invitation to an OJ Reception with the inductees; or $1000 for a Patron table, which is a reserved table of 8 complete with signage, mention in the program and inclusion in the OJ Reception with the inductees. Tickets are available by calling (863) 682-1111.