Agribusiness Advisory Committee

Advisory Committee

We work with the community, and the community works with us too.

Matt Caldwell Mr. Caldwell serves as the chair of the FGCU Center for Agribusiness Advisory Committee. A 7th generation Floridian, Mr. Caldwell is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2010 until 2018. He chaired several committees related to agriculture, natural resources, public lands, transportation, and governmental. Specifically, he oversaw the Agriculture and Natural Resources committee and was its chair during his last two terms. Mr. Caldwell received his Associates Degree from Edison College and his Bachelor of Arts in History from Florida Gulf Coast University. Prior to serving in the Florida House, he pursued a career as a real estate appraiser with Maxwell & Hendry Valuation Services in Fort Myers. He has attained the highest appraiser certification and is qualified as an expert witness in multiple states and in federal court. In 2019, Mr. Caldwell became a partner in TM Strategic Consulting.
Miller Couse Chairman of the Board at First Bank, Clewiston, Florida. In 2012 Mr. Couse served as Chairman and treasurer of the FGCU Foundation Board. He also is Chairman, President and CEO of Pioneer Bankcorp, Inc.
Ryan Duffy Director of Corporate Communications, US Sugar CorporationDuffy holds a master’s in Political Management from George Washington University and a bachelor’s from Florida State University. He is a member of the James Madison Institute Board of Advisors and a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was a recipient of the FSU Alumni Association’s 2013 “30 Under 30” Award and was also named one of Florida Politics’ “30 Under 30” rising stars in Florida politics.
Charlie Edwards Attorney in Fort Myers, Florida. While serving as the Chair of the University of Florida’s Board of Regents in 1991, he was instrumental in working with the State Legislature to pass legislation establishing FGCU as the state’s 10th university.
Hugh English Inducted into the Citrus Hall of Fame in 2000 and into the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2008. Former general manager and corporate vice president for citrus operations within A. Duda & Sons, Inc. Mr. English was a founding member of Gulf Citrus Growers Association and served as Chairman of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. His leadership helped launch southwest Florida’s fledgling citrus industry. He partnered with UF/IFAS researchers and extension specialists to develop production methods now commonly in use including low-volume irrigation technology. Mr. English is part of an agricultural family in southwest Florida since 1876. He graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in animal science. He served as chairman of the Big Cypress Basin Board and as a member of the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District.  While serving on the Southwest Florida Ag Council, he helped build legislative support to construct and staff the University of Florida’s Southwest Florida Research and Education Center near Immokalee. In 1991 Governor Lawton Chiles appointed Mr. English to a three-year term on the Florida Citrus Commission.  He served as vice chairman and chairman of the commission in 1992 and 1993, respectively. In 2000 he received the University of Florida’s Alumni of Distinction Award.
Joe Hilliard, II  
Mitch Hutchcraft Vice President, King Ranch / Consolidated Citrus Limited Partnership | Hutchcraft leads strategic planning, land use and lobbying activities for King Ranch. He holds MS and BA degrees from the University of Florida. “Success in agriculture not only requires that you are a good producer, but it also requires an understanding of property rights, emerging trends, educating the public, navigating governmental regulations, and rapidly responding to unforeseen events,” he says.
Stephen Massie Produce and Sales Manager at Collier Family Farms | Stephen joined Barron Collier Companies in 2013. Stephen has deep roots in the Big-10 where he earned degrees in Communication at The Ohio State University and Strategic Sales and Marketing from Northwestern University.
Stacy Mello Sr. Director of Ranches and Resource Management for A. Duda & Sons, Inc. Previous she served as Duda’s senior Director for Planning and Communication. DUDA is a diversified land company, headquartered in Oviedo, Florida, with agricultural and real estate operations. Mello began her 20-year career in 1996 as a marketing manager in her family’s sod business. Her talents shifted in 2004 to support the corporate strategic planning area.  In her current role, Mello is part of DUDA’s senior management team and works closely with the executive team and various governance leaders. In addition, she serves as chair of the Duda Family Council. Ms Mello earned a bachelor’s degree in 1995 from the University of Florida’s Food and Resource Economics Department.
Dr. W. Bernie Lester Member Citrus Hall of Fame, 2012, and the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame, 2017.Former President and Board of Director member of Alico, Inc from 1987 to 2005. Executive Director of the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) from 1979 until 1986 and worked as a research economist and was the Director of the FDOC’s Economic Research Department. Dr. Lester received his undergraduate and masters in Agricultural Economics in from UF, and in 1965 earned his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M. He served on the Board of Trustees at Florida Gulf Coast University from 2001-2010 and, along with his wife, Elaine, established several endowed scholarships at Florida Gulf Coast University and at the University of Florida.
Russell Priddy Former trustee of Florida Gulf Coast University from 2011 till 2016. Co-owner of the JR Ranch, LLC and past co-owner/operator of the Sunniland Enterprises of Collier County. Mr Priddy is the President of LCEC (Lee County Electric Cooperative) and has been on its board for the past 5 years. He was the risk manager for the City of Fort Myers and has experience in the insurance and financial services industry. Mr. Priddy is a board member of the John E. & Aliese Price Foundation. He is also a board member emeritus of the Children’s Advocacy Center and past president of the Rotary Clubs in Lehigh Acres and Immokalee. He is a graduate of Leadership Collier. He earned the CFP designation and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Georgia Southern University. Trustee
Dr. Ken Smith Florida Gulf Coast University Trustee, 2015 through 2020. Dr. Smith is partner/owner, President & CEO of the Tarpon Blue family of companies involved in real estate, land & resource management, and insurance. The company also oversees the 70,000-acre Babcock Ranch Preserve in Charlotte County with operations involving cattle ranching, land management, vegetable farming, sod, and Eco-tourism. Previously, Dr. Smith served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Alico, Inc.; as the Vice President of Agricultural Operations for the Atlantic Blue Group, Inc., and in numerous management positions for Purina Mills. Dr. Smith also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for The Nature Conservancy. He has BS and MS degrees from West Texas State University in Animal Science and a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University.
Dallas Townsend Dallas B. Townsend is a native of Hendry County having graduated from LaBelle High School in 1956.  He graduated from the University of Florida in June 1960 with High Honors and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science.   In 1977 he earned a master’s degree in animal science also from the University of Florida.  He served as the Livestock & 4-H Club Agent in Collier County from November of 1965 until June of 1979 when he became the County Director of Hendry County.  He retired in November of 2004 after serving for 39 years with the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. He mentored local 4-H groups, mentoring the kids and guiding record numbers of livestock- and meat-judging teams to state and national championships. He worked closely with local farmers and ranchers on issues ranging from pest and disease management to marketing and worker safety.  He organized the Southwest Florida Beef/Forage Program to bring Extension agents from across the region together to plan and implement new programs. Townsend was instrumental in elevating the agricultural research station north of Immokalee, FL from a field laboratory to the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC). He has received numerous awards and recognition throughout his career and in 2014, he was inducted into the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame.
Aaron Troyer President, Troyer Brothers, Fort Myers, FL | Troyer Brothers is a third – generation family owned and operated company. Troyer Brothers specializes in producing the highest quality, best tasting red, yellow, white, and purple potato varieties in winter and spring. All varieties are gluten -free, non-GMO verified and developed using traditional plant breeding techniques.
Jaime Weisinger Director of Community Relations and Government Relations, Lipman Produce. He is a 4th generation Lipman family member, serves on the Lipman Board of Directors, and presently manages the company’s real estate holdings as well. Lipman is the largest open field grower and distributor of fresh tomatoes in North America with 28 locations throughout the country, including greenhouse growing operations in Canada and the Midwest. In 2017, Governor Rick Scott appointed Mr. Weisinger as one of 9 members of the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District and served until 2019. He also serves on the Government Relations Committee with the United Fresh Produce Association and Florida Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association respectively. In his community role, he is a member of the executive board of the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA), FGCU’s Athletic Advisory Council, Naples Botanical Gardens, the Farm City BBQ executive board, and led Lipman’s annual backpack giveaway events that have raised over $200,000 and distributed over 8,500 school kits to students in Collier County over the last 7 years. Mr. Weisinger earned a BS degree in Finance from Boston University in 1992.

August 25, 2022