Tim Hurner Jr. remembers many weekends picking oranges and grapefruits at his grandfather’s farm in Pasco County. As a young boy, barely able to reach the bottom of trees, Hurner became smitten with citrus. Now, he will be recognized for decades of work helping the industry thrive.
Hurner will be inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame along with Peter McClure and the late Richard J. Kinney at the 57th Citrus Celebration Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on March 8 at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. Hurner, who has a long and storied career with University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension, is one of the few Extension agents inducted into the hall of fame.
“We are proud to see that Tim Hurner’s dedication to the citrus industry, his leadership skills and his love of agriculture are being recognized by the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame,” said Nick Place, UF/IFAS dean of Extension. “From helping growers transition to new technology to aiding students in becoming leaders in the field, Tim is a shining example for all Extension faculty.”
Hurner attended the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, where he quickly joined the fruit crops department. “We had professors who dedicated their lives to citrus horticulture, and who imbued in us a love of all things citrus,” he said.
While a student in CALS, Hurner visited groves across the state and learned about new technologies and techniques. Just before he graduated in 1965, a faculty member informed Hurner of an opening at the UF/IFAS Extension Highlands County office. Hurner got the position and stayed for 35 years. “Little did I know that I would be working with some of the greatest citrus researchers,” he said.
Hurner spent most of his career as an agent and then county director for UF/IFAS Extension Highlands County. As a fourth-generation citrus grower, Hurner devoted his life to helping the
industry survive and flourish in Florida. “My reward was working with growers and helping them thrive on family farms that have been around for generations,” he said.
While at the UF/IFAS Extension office in Highlands County, Hurner grew the 4-H program to more than 500 members. As the county director in 1990, he assisted growers in the formation of the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association. In addition, he taught at Florida Southern College in Lakeland where he mentored many students who are now leaders in today’s citrus industry.
A certified crop adviser (CCA), Hurner received the National CCA award in 2012, the International CCA award in 2013, and was awarded lifetime CCA status in 2014.
“Our family is humbled, honored and a little overwhelmed by this amazing honor,” said Laurie Hurner, who is now director of UF/IFAS Extension Highlands County. “My father devoted his life to his Extension career because he believes that there is no better job in the world.”