Almost every morning before dawn, I’m out cycling for nearly an hour. I go as fast as I can, but I’m on my own.
I go faster if I ride behind someone. Especially someone like Al Wysocki, associate dean of the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Riding behind him reduces wind resistance so much that with the same effort I can go a few miles per hour faster than on my own.
UF/IFAS is like Al the rider. We’re both out doing our thing whether we’re alone or in a pack. In the case of UF/IFAS, we’re telling the story of agriculture, championing science, and informing policy makers.
Sometimes we each “pull” fellow riders with us. When we tell stories, they represent the good work that so many agricultural colleges do. When we stand up for science, that helps everyone engaged in the quest for evidence-based truth. When we inform policy makers, they understand better how to craft rules that benefit people far beyond our campus.
UF/IFAS isn’t always the lead bike in the peloton. Other great land-grants take turns. We’re one of the largest, oldest, and most prestigious land-grants, though, so we have an obligation to take on this work not only in our self-interest but to help our peers.
That involves more planes and less pedaling than I’d like, but it’s fun, purpose-driven work. As I compose this, I’m in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
I was a panelist for a session during which I emphasized the need for the nation’s land-grant universities to add and upgrade facilities worthy of the contributions our science makes to society. That’s not just UF, but all land-grants.
At our best, we’re all part of something bigger than ourselves, whether it’s a peloton or one of America’s greatest public policy innovations, the land-grant university system.