LAKELAND, Fla. (December 11, 2015) – The Selection Committee for The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame has announced three distinguished leaders will be inducted into the hall during the 54th Citrus Celebration Luncheon on Friday, March 11, 2016, at Florida Southern College in Lakeland.
Dr. William S. “Bill” Castle of Lake Alfred, John C. “Jack” Norris of Palm City and Victor B. “Vic” Story Jr. of Lake Wales will be honored at the luncheon, scheduled to take place at 11:30 a.m. in the Hollis Wellness Center.Dr. Bill Castle is internationally recognized as the leading authority on rootstocks, and the entire Florida citrus industry has been shaped by his work. His research has resulted in improved citrus scion and rootstock development, orchard design and management of high-density planting, citrus propagation and pre-plant expert systems, windbreak design and establishment, along with pomegranate cultivars and plantings. He did significant work in developing new sweet oranges, with focus on early-maturing selections with better juice color and flavor to improve the not-from-concentrate product. Dr. Castle was also extremely conscientious about his research and its benefit to the industry, working with economists to make certain that his information was not only scientifically correct, but also economically sound for the grower. Known widely throughout the international community, his extensive network of researchers has made numerous collaborations possible, resulting in break-through research on HLB and most recently, while in retirement, the beginnings of a commercial pomegranate industry. His research also helped to develop the “DISC” precision ag program and one of its outcomes, Advanced Citrus Production Systems. Professor emeritus at the University of Florida, he inspired numerous students to become involved in the industry, and many now serve in leadership roles today. Jack Norris is a native Floridian who has devoted countless hours of service to industry, educational and civic organizations while working in top management positions at major corporations such as Coca-Cola Foods and Turner Foods Corporation. Despite the intense demands of his corporate responsibilities, he served in a variety of volunteer leadership roles with numerous industry organizations such as Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, Florida Citrus Mutual, University of Florida advisory boards and the Florida Citrus Production Managers Association. He believed strongly that industry organizations needed to work together to educate governmental leaders about the role Florida growers have in providing so much of the nation’s food supply and worked tirelessly to help achieve that goal. During his tenure with Coca-Cola Foods, Norris and his team worked closely with UF/IFAS and USDA/ARS researchers, as well as private companies, to pursue innovative solutions in the areas of production, harvesting, labor and marketing that benefited the entire industry. Many of the first high-density plantings in Florida citrus occurred under his leadership, and some of the first privately-owned mechanical harvesting equipment and fungicide trials took place in the company groves. He went on to become president and CEO of Florida Power & Light’s Turner Foods Corporation and in the same manner successfully led the operation until his retirement in 2000. Under Norris’ leadership, Turner Foods grew into one of the largest citrus-growing operations in Florida. By the early 90s, the company had acquired approximately 20,000 acres of citrus properties in the state. While there, he recruited some of the finest talent in the industry to his management team and left a legacy of individuals who have followed in his footsteps as outstanding leaders of their companies and industry organizations, providing an enormous benefit to the entire citrus industry. Vic Story Jr. is known throughout the industry for his hard work, multi-generational business and his world-class production techniques. He serves as president of The Story Companies, a well-respected grove management and fruit marketing operation based in Lake Wales. Story and his father grew the family business from 100 acres to 2,500 acres in Central and South Florida, and The Story Companies now owns and manages more than 7,000 acres of citrus with 30 full-time employees. Story is a leader in cutting-edge production methods, being one of the first to spray for psyllids with the onset of HLB. He was one of the first growers to transition from overhead irrigation to micro jet technologies, and is a pioneer in the use of software to trace chemical and fertilizer use per block per variety to improve efficiency of operations. He also helped to create the Sun Lion citrus label, which is currently sold at Whole Foods and other grocery stores to provide a high-quality, Florida-branded fresh product to consumers. More than 100,000 Sun Lion cartons were shipped during the 2014-2015 season. More importantly, he has represented Florida citrus growers tirelessly, on countless occasions, at the highest levels in Washington and Tallahassee as president of Florida Citrus Mutual and a member of the Florida Citrus Commission. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam noted: “Vic is an industry leader and a first-class gentleman. He’s a quiet giant for the citrus industry – when he does speak, everybody listens.”
The induction luncheon ceremonies will take place on Friday, March 11, 2016, in the Hollis Wellness Center at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. Invitations will go out in January, and ticket information will be available on the website, www.FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com, later this month. For more information, contact Brenda Eubanks Burnette at (561) 351-4314 or BBurne1003@aol.com.
The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame honors distinguished leaders who have made significant contributions to the Florida citrus industry. The Citrus Hall of Fame display and Archive Center is located within the McKay Archive Building at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. For more information on members of the Citrus Hall of Fame, visit the website at www.FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com, which includes access to biographies and photos on all members, noting their accomplishments and including various industry links.
Tickets to the luncheon, which is sponsored by Florida Citrus Mutual and The Florida Department of Citrus, are $100 for patron seating or $1,500 for a sponsor table, which includes preferred seating for eight, table signage and a listing in the program. The event will be followed by the Florida Citrus Processors’ Association’s OJ “Meet & Greet” with the inductees as they unveil their names on the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame tree, located in the McKay Archives Center. An educational citrus exhibit will be featured during the month of March, and tours of the Citrus Archives will be provided by the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame Fellowship students on the day of the event. Shuttles will provide transportation between the Hollis Wellness Center and the McKay Archives Center, where the main parking lot is located. A portion of the proceeds from all ticket sales will go to fund an educational outreach program to promote the history of the Florida citrus industry.
To purchase tickets, please call Florida Citrus Mutual at (863) 682-1111 or visit the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame website at www.FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Brenda Eubanks Burnette at (561) 351-4314 or via e-mail at BBurne1003@aol.com.