Eugene (Gene) McAvoy has spent over 50 years supporting and advocating for the agricultural industry in Florida and around the world.
McAvoy was an excellent educator and spokesperson for agriculture during his 25-year career with the UF/IFAS Extension service. He joined the Hendry County Extension Office in 1997 as the Vegetable/ Horticulture Agent. In 2004, he broke new ground as one of UF IFAS’ first Regional Specialized Extension Agents. In this role, McAvoy was responsible for developing and implementing educational programs for vegetable producers in five counties in southwest Florida.
In 2005, McAvoy also took on the role of County Extension Director for Hendry County. He maintained these dual responsibilities until he retired in 2019. On his retirement, he was granted the title Extension Agent Emeritus by the University of Florida.
Less than a month into his retirement, he was invited to become the Associate Director for Stakeholder Relations at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center. He served the agricultural community of Southwest Florida in this capacity until July 2022.
McAvoy is well-known for his South Florida Pest and Disease Hotline, which he published biweekly during the vegetable production season until his retirement. The hotline provides growers with up-to-date information on pest and disease occurrence on over 140,000 acres of South Florida vegetables. He also publishes the Pest of the Month Column in Florida Grower Magazine, which highlights a different pest or disease affecting Florida vegetable crops.
He is active on Facebook and Twitter @SWFLVegMan, providing timely information that helps the fruit and vegetable industry understand how to succeed in this dynamic and ever-changing business.
Over the years, McAvoy became the voice of agriculture in Southwest Florida. He was widely sought out by local, state, and national media to speak about events impacting South Florida agriculture. He has been interviewed by numerous media outlets including the New York Times, NPR, ABC, CNN, CBS, NBC and multiple local radio and television outlets.
McAvoy has received multiple awards during his years of service, including induction into the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Hall of Fame. He has also been recognized by the Florida Farm Bureau and the University of Florida.
He has been actively involved with many other organizations as well, including the Joint Council of Extension Professionals, the Florida Association of County Agricultural Agents, Florida Farm Bureau, Hendry County Cattlemen’s Association and the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.
McAvoy and his wife, Donna, live on their ranch outside LaBelle. He now owns and operates his own agricultural consulting firm.