As an agent with the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Dr. Bruce Christmas was known for his research in poultry science as well as his work as an educator. Christmas spent the bulk of his career as director of the University of Florida’s Poultry Evaluation Center in Chipley, conducting field trials and keeping local farmers up to date on the latest agricultural innovations.
Christmas was born in Cottondale in Jackson County in 1933 to a farming family. He attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1955, a master’s degree in agriculture in 1959, and a doctorate in poultry nutrition and management in 1972.
Christmas spent seven years as an Extension agent in Orange County, working with 4-H clubs and helping local farmers manage and improve their livestock. His leadership resulted in one of the most successful youth and adult education programs in the state.
Christmas moved to Washington County in 1969 to join the faculty at the Poultry Evaluation Center. His field-trial research was widely published, and his tireless efforts to disseminate his knowledge to local farmers helped them increase their production and profitability. He received a Harms Publication Award for best poultry publication in 1983 and numerous awards and citations from the University of Florida throughout his career.
Christmas was active in a variety of professional societies and industry organizations, including the Extension Workers’ Association, the Animal Science Association, and the Southern Poultry Science Association. He has served in leadership positions with UF’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Association, the Florida Farm Bureau, and the Washington County Cattlemen’s Association.
Despite his many professional obligations, Christmas always found time to volunteer in the community. He worked with 4-H and FFA, mentoring and coaching kids in livestock judging. He was inducted into the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame in 2010, and in 1998 he was named National Volunteer of the Year by the National Agricultural Alumni and Development Association.
Christmas is a longtime member of the Kiwanis Club of Chipley and has served as its vice president and president. He was named Kiwanian of the Year in 1980. He is also an active member of the First Baptist Church of Chipley, where he has served as a Sunday school teacher, deacon and choir member.
Christmas and his wife, Ann, live in Cottondale, where they continue to work the family farm. They have four sons, Stuart, Robert, Jonathan and Scott.