About

About Citrus Research and Development Foundation

In April 2009, the National Academies of Science, at the request of the Florida Department of Citrus, formed the National Research Committee on Strategic Planning for the Florida Citrus Industry: Addressing the Citrus Greening Disease (Huanglongbing). At the same time, the forward-looking citrus industry in Florida initiated the Citrus Research and Development Foundation. When the National Research Council’s report was published in March, 2010 it included a recommendation that one organization be identified and empowered to have oversight responsibility over HLB research and development efforts.

The Citrus Research and Development Foundation is a non-profit corporation organized under Florida State laws as a Direct Support Organization of the University of Florida.

The Mission of the Foundation is to “Advance disease and production research and product development activities to ensure the survival and competitiveness of Florida’s citrus growers through innovation”.

The organization is headed by a 13-member Board of Directors that includes individuals from industry, academia and government. The COO handles the day-to-day management of business affairs, and Project Managers oversee the research and commercial product delivery project portfolios.

2019 Board of Directors

N. Larry Black, Jr.

General Manager, Peace River Packing Company
Fort Meade, FL 33841

N. Larry Black, Jr.

Larry Black, fifth generation citrus grower from Lakeland, is General Manager of Peace River Packing Company. He manages over 3200 acres of citrus and ranch property for the family business. Peace River Packing Company, established in 1928, is a fully integrated citrus services company, active in grove care, harvesting, fresh fruit packing, and processed fruit sales.

Larry is active in the community, currently serving as a Vice President of Florida Citrus Mutual and is a former President and board member of Polk County Farm Bureau. Larry is also a Polk County Planning Commissioner. He is active in various land use issues including the Polk County Scenic Highway and Farm Labor Steering Committees. He is a member of First Presbyterian Church, Lakeland. Larry and his wife Jenny have two children: Varn, age seven, and Julia, age five.

Robert H. (Bobby) Barben

President, Barben Fruit Co., Inc.
Avon Park, FL 33826

Robert H. (Bobby) Barben

Rob is well known in the industry and serves on the executive committee of the Florida Citrus Production Manager’s Assn. He has presented at the Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference’s Educational Session and really impressed the crowd with his drone videos. Rob is committed, sharp and is among the leaders who are testing and adopting tools to survive with HLB, including investing in new strategies with new plantings. He currently serves on the CRDF Industry Research Coordinating Committee as a grower representative, and is well respected by his peers. Rob would most directly represent the SW region of the state.

Jonathan "Ned" Hancock

President/Owner, Hancock Citrus, Inc.

Jonathan "Ned" Hancock

Ned Hancock is president and owner of Hancock Citrus, Inc., headquartered in Avon Park, with groves in Highlands and Hardee Counties. Hancock Citrus is a citrus caretaking company that manages its own groves as well as those of clients, making and implementing all production decisions related to the groves it manages. He has been in the citrus industry for 30 years and has served on the School Board of Highlands County, Highlands County Citrus Growers Association Board of Directors, and a wide range of community organizations, as well as serving as the Chairman of the Economic/Market Research committee. Ned holds a BA in Agriculture from the University of Florida. He is a fourth or fifth generation citrus grower and currently owns a grove on property the family has owned since 1870. He and his wife, Tammy, have three grown daughters: Marti, Alison, and Savannah.

Rob Atchley

A. Duda and Sons, Inc.

Rob Atchley

Rob is well known in the industry and serves on the executive committee of the Florida Citrus Production Manager’s Assn. He has presented at the Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference’s Educational Session and really impressed the crowd with his drone videos. Rob is committed, sharp and is among the leaders who are testing and adopting tools to survive with HLB, including investing in new strategies with new plantings. He currently serves on the CRDF Industry Research Coordinating Committee as a grower representative, and is well respected by his peers. Rob would most directly represent the SW region of the state.

Greg Hodges, Ph.D.

Assistant Director, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Greg Hodges, Ph.D.

Current Assistant Director for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry. Has both a B.S. degree in Integrated Pest Management and a M.S. degree in Entomology from Auburn University. Graduated with a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Georgia in 2000. Worked as a research scientist focused on insect control for the peach industry for the University of Georgia in 200. Joined the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services-Division of Plant Industry (FDACS-DPI) in 2002 as an entomologist responsible for the identification of scale insects and whiteflies. He served in this capacity for six years before he moved to the role as Chief of the Plant Pest Diagnostics Bureau. After serving in this role for seven years, Dr. Hodges was promoted to the role of Assistant Director in which has now served two years.

David Howard

Vice President, Agricultural Operations, Graves Brothers Company

David Howard

After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture from the University of Florida in 1986, David began work in citrus land development and grove production for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and then Dole Citrus Inc. For the last 25 years, he has been directing agricultural and land management efforts for Graves Brothers Company which is based in Vero Beach. David is active in the Citrus Production Managers Association, participates in RMC and CPDC Committees of CRDF, a member of USDA, APHIS HLB MAC as Florida Grower Representative. He is one of four Florida grower representatives of the Citrus Subcommittee who sets priorities for the SCRI Citrus Disease Research and Education Program. David and his company are dedicated to survive HLB, and manage groves in all three regions of the state (not just the Indian River). David has a command of the situation in the industry as evidenced by his presentation at the Bonita Springs Grower Panel, and is well aware of CRDF programs, goals and challenges.

Charlie Lykes, Jr.

President/CEO, Lykes Bros. Inc.

Charlie Lykes, Jr.

He began working for Lykes in 1972 and has served on the Lykes Bros. Inc. Board of Directors since 1974. Charlie worked throughout Lykes companies: at the Florida Ranch, Florida and Texas Feed Yards, Lykes Agri Sales, Lykes Meat Packing, and in the audit department in Tampa. Since 1983 he has managed the Ranch Division, which now encompasses Cattle, Forestry, Land and Resource Management and the O2 Ranch in Texas. In 2012, he became responsible for the Citrus Division. On January 1, 2015 he became the President/CEO. Charlie is also on the Board of Directors of Citrus World, Inc., which owns Florida’s Natural brand. He is a strong supporter of Florida Citrus Mutual.

Jeanna Mastrodicasa, Ph.D.

Associate Vice President for Operations, UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Jeanna Mastrodicasa, Ph.D.

Jeanna Mastrodicasa is the Associate Vice President for Operations with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Her appointment follows more than a year as chairperson of the advisory board of the Center for Public Issues Education. Dr. Mastrodicasa earned an ABJ in public relations and a J.D. in law from the University of Georgia, an M.S. in college student personnel from the University of Tennessee, and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Florida. She first joined UF in 1997 as an academic advisor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a position she held for two years before being named Assistant Dean of Students. She was Associate Director of the Honors Program at UF for seven years, where she directed the campus undergraduate research program University Scholars, advised student Fulbright grant applicants, and managed several duties including admissions, orientation, and advising efforts within the Honors Program. She served as Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs for nearly eight years before her appointment to IFAS. In addition to her work at the University of Florida, Dr. Mastrodicasa served the Gainesville community-at-large as a City Commissioner from 2006 to 2012, during which time she served as Mayor Pro-Tem from 2010-2011 and chaired the city’s Public Safety Committee for five years and the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency from 2009 to 2010; She also served on several committees for six years represented the city on the Alachua County Tourist Development Council. Dr. Mastrodicasa is the co-chair of the Assessment, Research, and Evaluation Knowledge Community with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and frequently presents on issues related to millennial college students, their use of technology, and generations in the workforce. She co-authored the book “Connecting to the Net.Generation: What Higher Education Professionals Need to Know about Today’s Students” (NASPA 2007).

Jerome M. (Jerry) Newlin

President, BAMA Investments, Inc.

Jerome M. (Jerry) Newlin

  • Born in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and raised in Fort Myers, FL.
  • Graduated with a BS Degree in Agriculture from the University of Florida in 1976.
  • Worked for Alico/Orange-Co and its predecessors in various capacities from 1978-2018.
  • Overs 40 years managing citrus in Florida, grove caretaking and maintenance operations.
  • Mr. Newlin serves on the board of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation.
  • A member of the Florida Citrus Production Managers’ Association.
  • Serves as the President of the Joshua Water Control District and the East Charlotte Drainage District, which encompass the Company’s groves in Desoto and Charlotte Counties.

Bob Newsome

General Manager, Agricultural Operations, Barron Collier Companies

Bob Newsome

Robert W. (Bob) Newsome grew up in Immokalee, Florida. Bob received his BBA from Florida Atlantic University, in Boca Raton, and earned his Executive MBA from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2001. Bob is the General Manager of the Agricultural Division of the Barron Collier Companies. Bob began his career with the company in 1982 as the Assistant Manager of the nursery operation. In 1983 he moved into the Manager’s position of the Silver Strand North citrus operation and was responsible for the planting and operation of this 4,300-acre grove. In 1987 he was promoted to the Assistant General Managers position and was involved with the management and oversight of the citrus, vegetable and tomato operations. By 1991 the citrus management team had increased the citrus holdings to over 10,300 net planted acres. In 2011 he was promoted to the position of General Manager for the agricultural operations. He has been active in the community and currently serves on the Board of the Gulf Citrus Growers Association, he is a past member of the Citrus Administrative Committee, past Chairman of the Collier County Housing Authority, past President of the Collier County Farm Bureau, past director of Immokalee Non-Profit Housing, he was also appointed by the governor to the State Pesticide Review Committee. Bob is an active member of his church, enjoys volunteering, and working in his community. Bob has four children, enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle, and currently lives in North Naples, Florida.

Thomas A. Obreza, Ph.D.

Senior Associate Dean and Associate Director, University of Florida/IFAS Extension

Thomas A. Obreza, Ph.D.

Dr. Thomas A. Obreza is Senior Associate Dean and Associate Director, Univ. of Florida/IFAS Extension. He served as Interim Associate Dean for Extension from 2009 to 2013 before assuming his current role. Dr. Obreza is also a Professor in UF’s Soil and Water Sciences Department. Dr. Obreza has been with UF/IFAS for 30 years. For the first 13 years, he was located at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, where he worked on improving nutrient and water management of citrus, vegetable, and sugarcane crops. In 2002, Dr. Obreza moved to the main UF campus in Gainesville to assume the duties of statewide water resources extension coordinator. His extension education program covered plant nutrient use efficiency to protect water resources. His major responsibilities as Senior Associate Dean are managing Florida’s 374 county and regional Extension faculty and helping direct the Florida Cooperative Extension service. Dr. Obreza holds a B.S. degree in Agriculture from the Ohio State University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Soil Science from the University of Florida. He and his wife, Laurie, have two grown daughters and two granddaughters.

Patricia (Pat) Ouimet, Ph.D.

Chief Citrus Greening Officer,, Pepsico

Patricia (Pat) Ouimet, Ph.D.

Dr. Patricia (Pat) Ouimet has been the Chief Citrus Greening Officer of PepsiCo and Citrus R&D Director division Tropicana, Inc. since September, 2016. In this role, Dr. Ouimet is responsible for corporate efforts in both internal and external activities towards managing greening impact and facilitating the discovery of potential solutions to this devastating condition. Pat has spent her career in agriculture; much of that time was spent at the multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto. She started her career in pesticide discovery and had various roles including Biotechnology regulatory and quality lead, Soy pipeline lead, Genomic Strategy and Operations lead and IT Senior Director for Precision ag Agronomy intelligence systems, Regulatory and Commercial business units. She was a board member of the Science & Technology Council of South East Missouri University from 2010-2012 Pat is a 10 generation agriculturalist with 9 generations of farming in her family, which also includes one of the first farms in Canada which remains a heritage farm. In her spare time, Pat is dedicated to the development of next generation farmers and helping consumers understand food production supply chain.

John Updike, Jr.

President, Alcoma Properties, Ltd. and Updike Enterprises, Inc.

John Updike, Jr.

John Updike, of Babson Park, is a third generation citrus grower and the president of Alcoma Properties, Ltd. and Updike Enterprises, Inc. Updike has a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Washington and Lee University and an Education for Ministry from the School of Theology at the University of the South. Updike has served on the Polk County Farm Bureau Board, Polk County Board of Adjustment and Polk County Code Enforcement Board. He is a former member of the “No Name Group” and the Ridge Runners. He is presently working with a group building a school for ESE children. He is married to Penny McKay, has five children and 10 grandchildren.

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Staff

Rick Dantzler

COO, CRDF
rdantzler@citrusrdf.org

Rick Dantzler

Rick Dantzler is a third-generation Floridian who grew up in Winter Haven. He attended Polk County public schools from kindergarten through the 12th grade, and the University of Florida for undergraduate and law school.

In 1982, at the age of 26, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives where he served for eight years. In 1990, he was elected to the Florida Senate where he served until resigning in 1998 to run for the office of Governor of Florida. Later that year he became the nominee for Lieutenant Governor.  

After leaving elected office, Dantzler worked as a lawyer and mediator. In early 2013, he accepted an appointment from President Obama to serve as the State Executive Director of the Farm Service Agency within the USDA. At the end of President Obama’s administration, Dantzler went back to practicing law before becoming the COO of CRDF in August of 2018.

Audrey Nowicki

Office Manager, CRDF
anowicki@citrusrdf.org

Audrey Nowicki

Brandy Brown

Program Assistant, CRDF
brandy.brown@citrusrdf.org

Brandy Brown

James M. (Jim) Syvertsen, Ph.D.

Project Manager, Horticultural Practices
jmsn@ufl.edu

James M. (Jim) Syvertsen, Ph.D.

James H. (Jim) Graham, Ph.D.

Project Manager
jhgraham@ufl.edu

James H. (Jim) Graham, Ph.D.

Brandon Page

Field Trial Coordinator, CRDF
bpage@ufl.edu

Brandon Page

Emily Collins

Agricultural Assistant, CRDF
emilyycollins@ufl.edu

Emily Collins

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