For 39 years Dallas Townsend worked as an agent with the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. He spent his long career making sure that Southwest Florida farmers and ranchers reaped the benefits of the latest agricultural research.
Townsend was born in Fort Myers in 1939. He studied agriculture at the University of Florida, earning a bachelor’s degree in animal science in 1960 and a master’s degree in animal science in 1977.
He began his career as an Extension agent in Collier County, where he specialized in youth outreach. He worked with local 4-H groups, mentoring the kids and guiding record numbers of livestock- and meat-judging teams to state and national championships.
From Collier County, he moved north to Hendry County, spending 24 years as an agricultural agent and director of the Hendry County Extension Office. He worked closely with local farmers and ranchers on issues ranging from pest and disease management to marketing and worker safety.
He helped area cattle ranchers reduce their inputs and adopt new pasture fertility programs that were more economical and more environmentally friendly. 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 bringing agricultural research to Southwest Florida through the establishment of the University of Florida Immokalee Field Laboratory and the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center. Scientists at these facilities conducted research in beef cattle, citrus, sugarcane and vegetable production.
Townsend was involved in a number of professional organizations, including the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, the National Association of County Agents, and the Collier County Farm Bureau. He held leadership positions in the Florida Association of County Agricultural Agents, the Gulf Citrus Growers Association, the Hendry County Cattlemen’s Association, and the Florida Association of Extension Professionals.
Townsend’s service to Florida agriculture has been widely recognized. He received outstanding service citations from the Collier County Cattlemen’s Association, the South Florida Agricultural Council, the Gulf Citrus Growers Association, and the Collier County 4-H Advisory Committee. In 1997 the Hendry County agricultural building was named in his honor.
Townsend and his wife, Doris, live in Felda. They have five children, Roxzy, Cathy, Cindy, Dallas Jr. and Robert.