GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Matthew Johnston, chief executive officer for international vegetable seed company HM.CLAUSE, has been named 2016 Volunteer of the Year by the UF/IFAS SHARE Council, a volunteer leadership board that works to secure sources of private support for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Johnston was honored Dec. 12 at a dinner event held in downtown Gainesville at the Old Gainesville Depot Building at Depot Park.
“Matthew is a valued partner in UF/IFAS’ mission to improve the lives of all Floridians through science,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources. “He has shown a strong commitment to our institution, its people and its future, and this award celebrates that friendship.”
During his acceptance, Johnston stated, “Florida is in a unique position to advance agriculture both in the state and around the world. I am grateful for the partnership with UF/IFAS and look forward to a bright future filled with opportunities.” Johnston was instrumental in securing financial support from HM.CLAUSE and parent company, Limagrain, for the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ Challenge 2050 Project. The project aims to find ways to meet the agricultural and natural resource needs of 9.6 billion people, the projected global population of 2050.
A fourth-generation Floridian, Johnston graduated from the University of Wyoming before returning to Florida to work for his family’s citrus business. Johnston eventually joined the vegetable seed industry and rose to become CEO of HM.CLAUSE, one of the world’s largest seed companies.
Though HM.CLAUSE is based in France, Johnston has stayed true to his roots in Florida agriculture, Payne said.
Johnston was a member of one of the first graduating classes of the UF/IFAS Wedgworth Leadership Institute, which works to advance leadership in Florida agriculture and natural resources. He also serves on the advisory board for the UF/IFAS Center for Leadership, and he and fellow HM.CLAUSE colleagues have enriched UF student learning as guest lecturers and entrepreneurs in residence.
The SHARE Council award dinner was attended by representatives from HM.CLAUSE, UF/IFAS SHARE Council and UF/IFAS administration, including Payne and UF/IFAS deans of research, Extension and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
Johnston was originally scheduled to receive his award in October during the annual UF/IFAS Dinner of Distinction, which was canceled due to Hurricane Matthew. “We were so pleased to finally have a chance to honor Matthew for his service,” Payne said.
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