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Division of Marketing and Development
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Mayo Building, M-9
407 South Calhoun Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0800
(850) 617-7300

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Adam H. Putnam, Commissioner

Dr. Marshall O. Watkins

Photo of Marshall O. Watkins
Marshall O. Watkins

Marshall O. Watkins was born in Hillsborough County. His contributions to agriculture span seven different decades. He worked his way into agriculture by walking in the furrow of his father's plow. He labored in the fields as a farmhand and later attended Harvard University, where he obtained a doctoral degree in public administration.

His insatiable appetite to acquire valuable agricultural knowledge took him across continents to the country of Ghana, where he served there as a visiting professor. As the dean and director of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Watkins utilized the very latest in scientific information and financially supported advanced graduate work for county agents. He also was committed to a strong program of continuing professional improvement that kept the extension system up to date with rapidly changing research information. Watkins' progressive thinking was recognized as a key reason why the Florida Cooperative Extension Service is known as a responsive agency for the state's rural and agricultural families. He also helped families by reaching out to youngsters.

His longstanding commitment to youngsters was evident in 1937 when he was an assistant county 4-H agent. That commitment continued throughout the years with his involvement in 4-H and Future Farmers of America.

During his career, he served many agricultural organizations and continues to be an active member of: Hillsborough County Overall Extension Advisory Council; Plant City Chamber of Commerce, Hillsborough County Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee; Florida citrus Research Advisory Council; state Farmers Market Advisory Committee.

During his lifetime, Watkins received many accolades for his dedication to Florida agriculture. Some of the awards that have been bestowed upon him are: Presidential unit citation from the president of the University of Florida; "Appreciation of Long and Distinguished Service"; Bicentennial Year Award, Agricultural Experiment stations; the Florida Farm Bureau's Distinguished Service Award; Award of Merit, Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture, University of Florida; The Classic Award for his lifelong efforts to promote and support the Florida strawberry industry; Distinguished Service Award by the Florida State Veterinary Medical Association for outstanding contributions to the livestock industry of Florida"; Progressive Farmer Magazine's 1965 "Man of the Year in Service to Florida Agriculture"; Distinguished Service Award from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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