Kenworthy Receives 2022 Plant Breeding Innovation Award
By J. Scott Angle, Senior VP for Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of Florida | IFAS
After hearing about what (justifiably!) effusive praise Dr. Kevin Kenworthy received at your annual meeting in April, I wanted to share two pieces of good news about Kevin.
First, he’ll soon be back to full-time turf research and Extension. I have hired a new chair for the Department of Agronomy, which Kevin has ably led for 11 months on an interim basis and I am grateful for his service.
We have what is in my opinion the best university-based plant breeding team in the nation, with nearly 30 faculty members, so this award is a big deal. UF/IFAS Research Dean Rob Gilbert said at the ceremony that Kevin has helped us rebuild trust and strengthen our relationship with Florida’s turfgrass industry, “…using innovative approaches to acquire funding, perform research projects, involve growers in the selection process, as well as how he releases and markets his cultivars.”
The commercialization of CitraBlue™ results from a partnership among the UF/IFAS turfgrass breeding program, Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Turfgrass Producers of Florida, and Sod Solutions®. It developed as a direct result of Kevin’s hard work.
“Kevin has built one of the most reputable warm-season turfgrass breeding programs in the world,” the dean said. “I’m looking forward to the success of Kevin’s CitraZoy™.
On a personal note, I met Kevin before I ever knew I’d be leading UF/IFAS. In 2019, when I was the director of the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, I did a two-day tour of UF/IFAS. I know that on these trips my hosts put their All-Stars in front of me. When I visited Citra, there was Kevin front and center with a microphone and a checkerboard of cultivars beneath our feet.
I left with a CitraBlue™ hat – and a very high opinion of Kevin. I have no idea where the hat is, but my opinion hasn’t changed.
When he joined UF/IFAS in July 2020, Dr. Scott Angle announced his intention to visit Extension offices in all 67 counties. 30,000 miles and 21 months later, he fulfilled that pledge on April 8, 2022 at the Columbia County Extension office in Lake City. Read more about this journey and his commitment of the University of Florida’s future on his blog – An Angle on IFAS – here: https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/ifas-vp.