Meet Dr. Pat Williams!

Meet Dr. Pat Williams!

Pat is the County Extension Director and the Agriculture/Horticulture/Natural Resources agent for UF/IFAS Extension Wakulla County while also serving as the Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator for both Franklin and Wakulla counties.

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Pat by their outdoor mural at the Extension office.

He earned his doctorate from Texas A&M University in horticulture, a M.S. degree from Kansas State University in horticultural therapy, a B.S. degree in ornamental horticulture/floriculture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and an A.S. degree in ornamental horticulture from Crafton Hills College.

Over his horticulture career that started at age 13 working for Chrysanthemum Gardens in Crestline, CA, he has resided in 10 different states with a wide range of environmental influences (CA, KS, NJ, ME, NY, WA, TX, KY, TN and FL).  He has held various positions in his career from teaching adults with developmental disabilities in NJ and ME, designing, installing and maintaining landscapes, landscape construction, being a horticultural therapist in New York City, working for the USDA in WA, teaching in a TX federal prison for his Extension appointment, teaching horticulture in a TN high school and was an university horticulture professor for 14 years in KY after teaching at Kansas State University, Washington State University and Texas A&M University as a teaching assistant.  He started with the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in April 2017 as the Sarasota County Residential Horticulture Agent/Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator and transitioned to the Wakulla County Extension office in June 2020.

Teaching and greenhouse growing are his professional joys.  Florida is the first state where there has not been a greenhouse to play in and he misses it greatly, however Extension does offer many opportunities to share his passion for plants and outdoors with a new group of learners.  Otherwise Pat grew up on the beaches and ski resort areas of southern CA and still finds solace today relaxing on the beach or kayaking.  He has traveled a bit visiting 49 states with only Hawaii to go.  When indoors he would rather be baking or cooking in the kitchen as his second career choice would have been a chef.  There is usually a yard full of flowers, herbs and vegetables and he is an extremely proud FSU Seminole Dad to Tara, a 2020 graduate.

Pat wears many hats at the Wakulla office and handles topics other than 4-H/Youth Development or Family and Consumer Sciences.  Once again he finds himself in a transition adapting to the new horticultural environment of Florida’s panhandle and developing more programs in agriculture and natural resources.  Please feel free to reach out to see how the UF/IFAS Extension Wakulla County can be of assistance.

 

Meet Ray Bodrey!

Meet Ray Bodrey!

Ray Bodrey is in his fifth year as the Gulf County Extension Director. Ray is originally from the “Watermelon Capital of the World” – Cordele, GA, where he grew up on a family row crop farm. His extension areas are Agriculture, Natural Resources (including Sea Grant programs) and Horticulture. He holds degrees in Biology, (B.S. 2006, Georgia Southern University); Agricultural Leadership, (M., 2011, University of Georgia) and Soil & Water Sciences, (M.S. 2015, University of Florida). Ray is also beginning his second year of the PhD program in UF’s Soil & Water Sciences Department. His research focus concerns strategies for building soil health after timber to pasture land conversion.

Ray’s horticulture programming efforts include extension series library talks on lawn and gardening topics, teaching courses for the Master Gardener Volunteer Program, as well as teaching pesticide license exam review and GI-BMP trainings. Before coming to UF/IFAS Extension, Ray was a member of the Water Quality Program of the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service – Georgia Sea Grant Program for eight years. As a Marine Resource Specialist, Ray’s extension and research centered on nonpoint source pollution activity in coastal surface waters.

When not juggling extension hats, Ray enjoys fishing, hunting, gardening and really, just being in the great outdoors. Growing skyscraper sunflowers, raised bed gardening,  composting and caring for citrus and peach trees are just some of the fun times had around his homestead.

 

Meet Daniel Leonard!

Meet Daniel Leonard!

Daniel is the UF/IFAS Calhoun County Extension Director and the Agriculture, Horticulture, and Natural Resources Agent in the county also!  Daniel is a fifth generation native northwest Floridian, born and raised near Blountstown on a timber farm.  This experience growing up gave him a general love of the outdoors and nature, but when he rooted his first cutting as a kid with the help of a mentor, a ‘Nikko Blue’ Hydrangea, he was hooked on horticulture.

Daniel has a B.S. in Environmental Horticulture and a M.S. in Agricultural Education and Communications – both from the University of Florida.  This combination of these degrees has allowed him to succeed in Extension both in subject matter expertise and in design and delivery of quality educational programs.  He began his professional career at Panhandle Growers, Inc (PGI), an ornamental tree farm in Santa Rosa County.  During his time there as Production Manager, Daniel learned valuable lessons of leadership, team management, and even a little Spanish.  Following his time at PGI, Daniel decided to pursue a career in Extension, first in Walton County as Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator and now back in his home community. His Extension program focuses on providing evidence-based solutions for residents in their home landscapes and vegetable gardens, agricultural producers in their crop fields and pastures, and landowners on their managed woodlands.

When he’s not in the landscape or out in a field, Daniel prefers to be on the water with his fly rod or home meticulously tending his raised bed garden.  He and his wife Ali had their first date in a botanical garden and, when not confined due to COVID, enjoy travelling, eating Key Lime Pie for breakfast, and parenting their dogs, El J and Manu.

Meet Matt Lollar

Meet Matt Lollar

Matt has served as a Horticulture Agent with the University of Florida/IFAS Extension for the past 10 years.  He began his career in Seminole County, FL as a multi-county agent focusing on vegetable crops and landscape installation and maintenance.  Being an Alabama native, Matt was ready to relocate closer to home.  After 5 years in Central Florida, he moved to Jackson County to become the Horticulture Agent.  In Jackson County he mainly focused on fruit and vegetable crops and coordinated Master Gardeners.  Matt became the Commercial Horticulture Agent in Santa Rosa County in the spring of 2018 and plans to be there for a long time.

Matt Lollar inspecting a persimmon tree

Inspecting persimmons at the West Florida Research and Education Center in Jay, FL.

Matt received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Horticulture from Auburn University.  He became interested in horticulture in college and thought he would become a landscaper after college.  However, upon completion of his undergraduate degree, he decided to continue his education and work on a masters degree and conduct research on vegetable crops.  Matt’s major professor, Dr. Wheeler Foshee, had an extension appointment and instilled in Matt the value of helping others.  Matt says the most rewarding part of his job is the opportunity to build relationships with farmers, peers, and researchers.

In his free time, Matt enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, woodworking, and, of course, gardening.  He and his family enjoy exploring nature and playing board and card games together.  Matt also enjoys reading nonfiction political and war history books.

Meet Dr. Gary Knox!

Meet Dr. Gary Knox!

Gary Knox is professor of environmental horticulture and Nursery Crops Extension Specialist at the University of Florida/IFAS at the North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Quincy. Dr. Knox is heavily involved in research and extension on nursery/landscape problems like Rose Rosette Disease, Crapemyrtle Bark Scale, and invasive plants. On a more uplifting note, he also evaluates perennials for their attractiveness to pollinators, and new woody plants for their ornamental qualities and usefulness in Florida landscapes. These plant evaluation activities largely take place in “Gardens of the Big Bend,” a new botanical, teaching and evaluation garden established in 2009 and located on the grounds of NFREC. The Gardens are a collaboration of NFREC with Gardening Friends of the Big Bend, Inc. (GFBB), a nonprofit volunteer group of gardening enthusiasts and Green Industry professionals. Members of GFBB actively volunteer to develop, maintain and fund-raise for the Gardens as well as assist Dr. Knox with research and extension activities.

This 2019 photo shows Gary at the fabulous gardens and fountains of Villa d’Este in Tivoli outside Rome, Italy.

Gary’s current plant passions include magnolia, crapemyrtle, camellia, hydrangea, Southern bulbs, succulents, and palms (so many species, so little time!). It’s no secret that he is particularly fond of magnolias, going so far as to serve four years as president of Magnolia Society International (MSI), the organization supporting magnolia conservation and research. Gary’s roles with UF and MSI have taken him from Cuba to China and England to Ecuador promoting magnolia conservation and research. Furthermore, Gary is a “Johnny Appleseed” of the magnolia world by collecting rare Magnolia species to propagate and share them with botanic gardens in Florida and nationwide to help conserve these species in as many places as possible. The collection of Magnolia species at Gardens of the Big Bend has been named part of the National Collection of Magnolia by the Plant Collections Network, a collaboration of the American Public Gardens Association and USDA.

When not gardening at home, Gary and husband Ken particularly enjoy travel, whether across the country to visit family, or abroad to visit inspirational gardens and historical sites and to meet people from other cultures. Otherwise, you might find Gary meeting friends to play cards and board games, attending civil rights-oriented events, or collecting vintage restaurantware made in his hometown of New Castle, PA. With more than 30 years under his belt at UF/IFAS, Gary is looking forward to retirement, but he’s not quite ready for it yet!

 

Meet Beth Bolles

Meet Beth Bolles

Beth has served as a horticulture educator with the University of Florida for 23 years in Escambia County.  She assists both homeowners and professionals with evidence-based information to improve their gardening and landscaping practices.  Beth earned degrees from the University of Tennessee in both Horticulture and Entomology that complement each other well, enabling her to find solutions to a broad range of horticulture issues faced by the community.

Visiting a favorite bird of prey at the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida.

The best part of the Beth’s Extension work is the variety of activities and topics that are involved in the job.  Everyday can offer something new to learn.  She especially enjoys learning about the local environment and determining the ‘whys’ behind a particular gardening practice or recommendation.

If Beth had to choose her favorite gardening activity, it would be pruning trees because you often need to envision future growth and how it can be directed in a certain way for plant health and attractiveness.  She does not enjoy installing sod as much.

Beth and her husband are currently parents to seven spoiled cats.  They both enjoy attending the Epcot Food and Wine Festival and Universal Halloween Horror Nights when a cat sitter is available.  Her impressive collection of Harry Potter memorabilia can fill up an entire room.

Visiting Hogsmeade. Hogwarts wasn’t hiring so Beth teaches Muggles instead.

When Beth retires many years from now, she will like to serve as a volunteer for a local animal organization and travel across the country to see its natural beauty.  Cats may just have to come along as well.