BARTOW, Fla. (December 8, 2023) – The Selection Committee for The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame has announced the selection of Dr. Robert M. “Bob” Behr, of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., George H. Streetman, of Vero Beach, and Leland K. Young, formerly of Bartow, Fla. as the Class of 2024 inductees. The three distinguished leaders will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with the Class of 2023, Gilbert Bowen (deceased), of Winter Haven, Fla. and
A.G. Smith (deceased), of Wauchula, Fla., on March 1, 2024 at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, at the George W. Jenkins Fieldhouse. The luncheon, which has traditionally been held in March since 2008, was moved to the fall in 2021 and 2022 due to the pandemic and the decision was made to move back to March to coincide with the slower time of season for the industry. The event is co-sponsored by Florida Citrus Mutual and the Florida Department of Citrus, with the Florida Citrus Processors Association hosting the OJ Meet & Greet afterwards. Tickets are available on the website.
Dr. Robert M. “Bob” Behr – Bob Behr’s roots run deep in Florida soil and so does his connection to the citrus industry, which spanned over four decades. Born in Orlando, Florida, his professional journey in the citrus industry began in 1987 with the Florida Department of Citrus where he served as the Economics/Market Research Director. His acumen in economics was very strong, but it was his ability to translate that knowledge into usable information for growers, processors, brands, and whomever was interested that made an impact. He joined Citrus World (now Florida’s Natural) in 1994, eventually graduating to Vice-President, Planning & Product Services, followed by Chief Operating Officer, and ultimately to CEO in 2015 until he retired in December 2022. Bob has been instrumental in the fight against citrus greening, championing the use of Citrus Under Protective Screen (CUPS) systems and personally maintaining considerable plantings within CUPS. His efforts earned him the Citrus Achievement Award in 2019 for the tree planting initiative program (PIP) at Florida’s Natural, resulting in the planting of 1.4 million trees.
Bob steered the Florida’s Natural brand through a period of significant difficulty, effectively responding to the challenges of citrus greening and its impact on growers and fruit supply where his transformative leadership fostered remarkable growth and stability. This included moves to a Florida’s Natural Lemonade brand, successfully changing the Florida’s Natural Orange Juice blend to incorporate imported orange juice in 2022, and achieving strong member returns, despite Covid, greening and Hurricane Ian.
A grower himself, he was able to make decisions with the best interest of member-growers in mind, in the finest cooperative tradition. He was a member of the Florida Citrus Commission and was the go-to guy assisting Florida Citrus Mutual with many issues facing the industry, leading the fight against Brazil in an anti-dumping case against imported orange juice. His leadership role resulted in the U.S. Federal Trade Commission taking punitive measures against Brazilian processors, putting hundreds of thousands of “Byrd Amendment” dollars back into the hands of Florida producers while ensuring grower returns accurately reflected the market.
His impact is equally profound in the sphere of corporate governance, having served on the boards of CoBank, Farm Credit of Central Florida, Florida Citrus Processors Association, National Juice Products Association, New York Board of Trade, and the Graduate Institute of Cooperative Leadership (GICL). His strategic decisions and vision in these roles significantly influenced policies and practices that have fostered the growth and stability of the Florida citrus industry.
George H. Streetman – George Streetman has exemplified leadership in the fresh citrus segment for decades. He emerged from a family farming in the Indian River area since 1935 to build a successful packing, shipping, and grapefruit export business. During his career, he served as president and General Manager of Hogan & Sons, where he was instrumental in the development of size regulations that helped maintain a profitable and orderly market during periods of oversupply. One of the leaders in initiating and implementing the Partners in Quality (PIQ) inspection for packinghouses, he helped save thousands of dollars in fees for packinghouses by instituting the self-inspection program for fruit quality, earning him the “Hammer Award” presented by Vice-President, Al Gore. He also received the John T. Lesley Award for Excellence from the Florida Citrus Packers, which is the organization’s highest recognition reserved for individuals making sustained and outstanding contributions to Florida’s fresh fruit industry.
He served on the Florida Citrus Commission from 2005-2011, was on the International Marketing Committee from 2005- 2008, serving as Vice Chair 2008-2010, and as Chair from 2010-2011. In 2015, he was awarded the “Legend of the River” award, the highest recognition from the Indian River Citrus League. In addition, he served on the inaugural Board of Directors for New Varieties Development & Management Corp., chaired the Citrus Administrative Committee overseeing a federal marketing order for fresh Florida citrus and served as President of Florida Citrus Packers from 2003-2005.
A longtime Member of Indian River Citrus League, George also served on the boards of multiple banks serving the local needs of growers and packers. His leadership extended to the regulatory arena as well as numerous bank boards.
George Streetman’s many contributions to the Florida Citrus Industry equate to leadership in action. He was always willing to step forward and invest the time and hard work to solve problems, and help bridge solutions, even controversial ones, to industry. He was well respected not only for his vision, but his ability to work closely with state and federal agencies to develop regulatory programs that were practical, effective and complementary of commercial practices. He has a reputation of being innovative, reliable, industrious, fun loving, gracious, ethical and tenacious. But perhaps more than anything George represented the industry with dignity and strength.
Leland K. Young – Representative of the men that built the citrus industry, “when hard work was currency,” Leland K. Young was born the son of a sharecropper and started working in the groves as a young boy. He worked for Kraft Foods and Evans Packing before starting his own company, Peace Valley Enterprises, which became a large, thriving family citrus business caretaking his own groves and those of many others in South Polk County. He was the epitome of a pioneer and an innovator, buying a plastics injection mold machine in the early ‘80s, hiring an engineer, and manufacturing the first low volume emitters in Florida via his company, Nu Jet, significantly undercutting the foreign competition. He invented the Stabilizer Buckle Stake, designed to hold tubing in place for proper placement of jets. Nu- Jet and the Stabilizer Buckle Stake were wildly successful and widely used within the industry, eventually becoming Maxi- Jet, Inc. and the industry norm. This tremendous improvement in water use eﬃciency became very important in the never- ending battle to retain water use rights during permitting negotiations with the water management districts.
Always collaborative, Leland often worked with chemical companies on field trials, most significantly participating in the trials for the eradication of the Diaprepes Root Weevil. Additionally, Leland is credited, along with Nick Albritton, for influencing the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services during the Canker crisis for demanding a tarp for every semi-tractor and not a tarp for every trailer, saving the industry millions of dollars. He was quick to seek out and implement a new solution for any challenge or burdensome task he faced, and was respected for his hard work, generous nature and commitment to innovation within the agriculture industry.
He was a loyal dedicated member of Haines City Citrus Growers Association and Florida’s Natural Growers, a member of Florida Citrus Mutual, Florida Farm Bureau, and Farm Credit of Central Florida. He generously shared his workspace – “The Barn” – with the entire industry for numerous large industry events, fund raisers, Miss Florida Citrus promotions and political campaigns, providing a vehicle for millions of dollars to be raised for charity and citrus and ag-centric politicians. For over 40 years, he hosted the Florida Southern College Citrus Institute and Horticultural students at thousands of citrus industry events, meetings, and educational forums at The Barn, introducing them to political and industry leaders that would shape many of their careers into becoming industry and legislative leaders themselves. A true ambassador for the citrus industry, he had an uncanny ability to bring people together regardless of their station in life, and worked constantly behind the scenes to bring everyone together for the betterment of the Florida citrus industry. Former Florida House Representative and successful real estate broker Dean Saunders noted “No one needed an address for The Barn and within the Industry, Leland didn’t need a last name.”
Class of 2023 Inductees recap:
For more than seven decades Franklin Gilbert Bowen (1928 – 2022) was a leader, not only in his family’s operations but in the Florida citrus industry. An avid learner, he traveled worldwide to keep abreast of new innovations in the citrus industry and always shared that knowledge with others. He selflessly and generously helped countless growers and others with their success in the industry, including funding research which helped bring low volume micro-jet irrigation to Florida.
Alfred Graham Smith (1862 – 1942) was a pioneer citrus grower in Wauchula and was instrumental in the early growth of the citrus industry in Florida, primarily in what at that time was DeSoto County. He was one of oldest growers and shippers of citrus in Florida and, in 1888, he was the first grower to ship citrus via railroad from Wauchula, building his first packinghouse there in 1896. In 1909, he was part of the group that traveled to California with Dr. Fredrick W. Inman and 48 others to study citrus cooperative marketing and growing methods in California, which resulted in the establishment of the Florida Citrus Exchange.
The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame honors distinguished leaders who have made significant contributions to the Florida citrus industry. The Citrus Hall of Fame display and Archives Center is located within the Sarah D. and L. Kirk McKay, Jr. Archives Center at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. For tickets to the luncheon, visit www.FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com, which includes access to biographies and photos on all members, noting their accomplishments, as well as numerous Oral History Videos with longtime industry members.
For more information, contact Brenda Eubanks Burnette at (561) 351-4314 or via email at [email protected].