I’ve got a tool shed under my house, filled with tools that I don’t get to use as often as I’d like. When I do use them, though, I marvel at how they are exactly what I need to get the job done.
UF/IFAS has the ultimate tool shed. It’s filled with experts – just the right people for the challenge. You can’t get the job done without them.
Karl Havens, Rob Gilbert, Nick Place, and I have been rummaging around in that shed to find the expertise needed to tackle the red tide/blue-green algae crisis. We needed a conference room to fit just some of them in one place together.
We had old algae hand Ed Phlips and young phycologist Dail Laughinghouse. We had Tom Fraser from the School of Natural Resources and Environment, Wendy Graham from the Water Institute, Michael Dukes of the Center for Land Use Efficiency and the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology, and Ruth Francis-Floyd from the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Glenn Morris of the Emerging Pathogens Institute also attended. Our participation in institutes such as EPI demonstrates that IFAS is a human health organization even though we’re not a medical center.
Some of Florida’s challenges, like red tide and harmful algae blooms, are so big that they suggest a question - Who else but us? Or how about the Ghostbusters version of the question: Who ya gonna call?
So it was no surprise to find myself at a conference room table surrounded by an All-Star team that had quickly assembled from across the state. It was just a matter of which experts Karl had helped me convene.
We have expertise in a wide array of agricultural, natural resource, and social sciences. We connect with other parts of the university better than anyone else. Our Extension operation gives us the best vehicle for delivering science to its intended beneficiaries. Our geographic location throughout the state means we have boots on the ground wherever the problem is. No one else can say this. Not in Florida.
We also know when we’re missing tools. Fortunately, we have generous neighbors who will lend us some of theirs. In this case, those neighbors include partners like FWC, FDACS, FDEP and water management districts.
The takeaway from the McCarty meeting was a can-do spirit. It wasn’t whether we would address the problem but how.
Regardless of your specialty or job description, you work for a problem-solving organization. Karl and I haven’t finished looking around the shed for experts. Don’t be surprised if we come calling.