AAWLI Honors Award Recipients
The Alumni Association of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute (AAWLI) held their annual meeting in Clearwater last weekend, August 6-7. At the Saturday evening awards banquet, the group honored four outstanding individuals for their contributions to the Wedgworth Leadership Institute (WLI) and the agriculture and natural resource industries.
Farm Credit of Florida Leadership Award – Lisa Lochridge (Class VII)
The Farm Credit of Florida Leadership Award is intended to recognize an AAWLI member who has applied what they learned in the program to make an immediate and/or lasting impact on their industry, organization and community.
Lisa Lochridge served 14 years as the Public Affairs Director of The Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association. In that role, Lochridge was known for her ability to clearly communicate the concerns of farmers to consumers, regulators, and legislators.
While her years of working to communicate on behalf of the industry are impressive, Lochridge set herself apart over the past year when the COVID-19 pandemic dissolved markets for Florida growers. Lochridge worked tirelessly to achieve national news coverage of the plight of Florida farmers and her efforts led to the opening of some alternative markets for growers as Florida consumers realized how critical it was to buy Fresh from Florida.
Burl Long Leadership Award – Bob Conrad (Class IV)
Dr. Burl Long served as the Faculty Program Advisor for the Wedgworth Leadership Institute from its inception in 1992 and played an integral role in the program until his death in 2011. The Burl Long Leadership Award is intended to recognize someone connected to the Wedgworth Leadership Program who reflects the ideals that Dr. Long embodied, including the belief that “speech without reflection is just chatter”, and the importance of thinking more deeply before speaking or acting. The recipient should also be an individual whose life perspective or mission further developed during, or as a result of, the Wedgworth Leadership Institute program- perhaps through an “ah ha” moment.
Bob Conrad has been serving the Wedgworth Leadership Institute longer than it has been called the Wedgworth Leadership Institute. Conrad is known for his quiet consideration before rendering a thoughtful comment or decision, much like Dr. Long. Conrad began his service to WLI as a member of the TRIOKA in Class IV and has continued ever since, recently completing a four year term as a regional director of the AAWLI Board of Directors.
Honorary Director Award – Kevin Kent
The Honorary Director Award is presented by the current WLI program director to an individual who has provided exemplary support and assistance to WLI.
Kevin Kent worked as the program coordinator for WLI while completing his doctorate in agricultural communication at the University of Florida. His expertise in communication and graphic design has elevated the WLI brand during his years with the program. Most recently, Kent’s expertise made WLI programming possible despite limitations from COVID-19. His innovative use of live-streaming technology has made it possible for those unable to attend in-person to participate in all aspects of WLI seminars from their homes.
Eugene Trotter Leadership Award – Mike Joyner (Class I)
The Eugene Trotter Leadership Award is intended to: honor leaders in the agriculture industry who have exemplified personal values, performance, and achievements in Florida and beyond; recognize high standards of conduct, leadership, innovation, and accomplishment for agriculture; and recognize those who as role models for young people entering the industry.
Former Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said of Mike Joyner “in times of crisis, people turn to individuals with high character and Mike is certainly that person.” Additionally, due to his impressive tenure in multiple roles serving Florida agriculture and WLI, Gale Trotter who serves on the award selection committee indicated “Mike makes his profession, his marriage, his fatherhood look like a piece of cake. He meets his adversities with a warm smile and marches forward. He has always had his priorities in order: God, Family, Career, Leadership.”