This Week's Poll


Pavilion fundraiser going well at NFREC-SV

A rendering of what the pavilion will look like sitting next to the existing conference room at NFREC-SV in Live Oak.
-Image Rendering Courtesy UF/IFAS

By Tami Stevenson

The University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), North Florida Research and Educational Center - Suwannee Valley (NFREC-SV), located just east of Live Oak, is proud to announce they are in the final stages of a fundraising campaign to build a much needed new educational outreach pavilion. The goal for construction and maintenance of the pavilion was $150,000, although they are hoping the final tally will include enough to allow for some amenities like roll up sides, fans and lighting.

Assistant NFREC-SV Director Robert Hochmuth, told the Suwannee Valley Times, Friday, that five years ago, driven by the need for water preservation and more efficient nutrient management, there was a dramatic increase in the need for additional research and extension activities at the center for Best Management Practices (BMP) to manage water use and fertilization in the agricultural industry, which included evaluating alternative crops for this region. Hochmuth is proud to say that today, the NFREC-SV has rapidly become a leader in water and nutrient management research in the southeastern US and is now looked to by surrounding states for updated data on these topics. The IFAS administration invested approximately $2.5M over the last five years to meet the research needs of the Suwannee Valley. They added new faculty and staff, renovated rooms and upgraded equipment and technology. The most recent investment was the expansion of a new conference room that will accommodate 100 attendees.

If one has ever had the good fortune to attend “The Fall Harvest Experience” with their child or taken a workshop there or attended any of their events, you realize their need for the new pavilion. Each time they hold an outside event, they must remove all of the heavy equipment from their main pole barn to accommodate attendees. Hochmuth said they had to move equipment a minimum of twenty times last year alone, so they are very excited about the new pavilion which will reduce the need to move equipment. They intend to use the pavilion for field days, small equipment demonstrations, some hands-on workshops and meal functions that are associated with workshops and field days outside, etc.

The idea to hold a fundraising campaign for the pavilion, Hochmuth said, came from a very active and supportive group of stakeholders that serve as an advisory committee for the Suwannee Center. “…and the stakeholders basically said, hey, let’s not stop on phase two and wait for the funding to come through more normal channels. Let’s try something different. Let’s see if we can raise the money through the agricultural industry and other allied components of this community, basically. We are in that process now and it has gone very well.” They are hoping to conclude the fundraising aspect of this phase on February 28. They will host an RSVP “Fundraising Finale” appreciation dinner to thank all who have supported this project thus far. With some additional contributions, they hope to break ground on construction of the pavilion this year.

Hochmuth wanted to especially thank the Farm Bureau for their participation in this campaign and said, “One of the key groups that has helped us with this fundraising effort has been the county Farm Bureaus in this region as well as the state office of the Farm Bureau. I think it is something that shows the partnership between the University and the Florida Farm Bureau, through the state and county offices.”

The NFREC-Suwannee Valley unit is located just east of Live Oak at the intersection of CR 136 and CR 417. It includes 330 acres owned by UF|IFAS plus 70 acres of adjacent leased land. NFREC-Suwannee Valley is the only UF|IFAS Research Center located in the borders of the Suwannee River Water Management District.

If there is anyone that would like to help with the fundraising campaign for the educational pavilion, they are welcome to contact Bob Hochmuth at 386-362-1725 ext. 103.