Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition tells the story of one of Florida’s oldest and most important cultural activities. Cattle ranching in North America began when Spanish explorers introduced horses and cattle in the 16th century, and flourished in the hands of the Seminoles, Crackers, and other Floridians. Today, ranching is an essential economic activity that preserves many aspects of the natural landscape, protects water resources, and maintains areas used by wildlife or for recreation.
The exhibit traces cattle ranching from its early beginnings in Colonial Florida through present-day cattle ranching. Some of the topics presented are Colonial Florida, Seminole cattle ranching, Cracker cowboys, cow dogs, auctions, oral traditions, rodeo, and material culture. The 2,400 square-foot multi-media exhibit includes fifteen cases of artifacts, more than 120 vintage and contemporary graphic images, two audio listening stations, and documentary videos about Cracker cattle and horses.
Florida Cattle Ranching premiered at the Museum of Florida History, Tallahassee in March 2009, then traveled for display at the Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa; Western Folklife Center, Elko, Nevada; HistoryMiami; the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville; and the South Florida Fair, West Palm Beach, where it remains on display through mid-November 2012.
To date, more than 520,000 visitors have seen the exhibit and learned of Florida’s rich history of cattle ranching.
The Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation proudly announces that the exhibit will be on long-term display at the Florida State Fair beginning February 7, 2013. The State Fair runs Feb 7-18, 2013. Thanks to Adam Putnam, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Florida State Fair Authority, and all the others who have made this possible.
The Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation, along with producers, individuals, and business around Florida, contributed over $230,000 for the construction of two multi-purpose buildings for the University of Florida – IFAS.
The buildings, located at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center (Ona) and the North Florida Research and Education Center (Marianna) serve as resident resource for students and visiting scientists conducting research at the Centers. These buildings serve a critical purpose in assisting the Center’s commitment to Education, which, along with Research and Extension, is a key principle of the Land Grant Mission’s tripartite purpose.
The housing resources also serve another unique financial role for the Center faculty in that graduate students typically are required to maintain a 12-month housing lease in Gainesville, since they spend a portion of their time on campus for completing coursework requirements. On-site housing at the Centers ensures that the students have affordable living accommodations while advancing the cattle industry through the conduct of their research at these off-campus Centers. These research topics closely mirror the priority list of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association that include cattle nutrition and reproduction, forage development and pasture management, soil fertility and water quality, and pest and weed control.
At both Centers, the dedicated service of all the scientists, both past and present, is evident to everyone that has ever sought information on beef production in Florida. Through these new buildings, and others being planned, future generations of ranchers can anticipate additional information and knowledge to make their operations more productive and efficient in the years ahead.