Louis E. “Red” Larson's longtime leadership in Florida's dairy industry is being recognized by his four children, who are establishing three endowments at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The $1.5 million gift, announced at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences' annual “Tail Gator” rally prior to the Florida- Vanderbilt football game in Gainesville, has prompted UF officials to name a building in Larson's honor. UF's dairy science building will now be known as the L.E. “Red” Larson Dairy Science Building.
In announcing the endowments and building dedication, Jimmy Cheek, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, thanked the Larson family for the generous gift and said it will enhance teaching, research and Extension programs in dairy science and the 4-H Youth Development Program.
“The Larson children, with deep roots in Florida agriculture and strong family ties, have chosen to honor their dad in a very special way,” Cheek said. “Red Larson and his wife, Reda, are the proud parents of four children — Woody, Barbara, Kathy and John — who have chosen to make a significant gift in their father's honor. Thanks to their generosity, three separate endowments are being established in UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.”
The sons, John Larson and Woody Larson, operate their own dairy farm businesses in Okeechobee. The daughters, Kathy Cooley and Barbara Stuart, reside in Ocala and Orlando, respectively.
A $300,000 gift will create an endowment to support teaching, research and extension programs, and a $200,000 gift will create an endowment to support UF's statewide 4-H Youth Development Program.
A $1 million gift will create an endowment to provide support for the Faculty Challenge Initiative, which will provide support for faculty and students in the animal sciences department.
The initiative, which was announced last year by UF President Bernie Machen, aims to raise $150 million to meet the demands of educating Florida's growing population and make UF one of the nation's premier research universities.
Red Larson, owner and president of Larson Dairy Inc. in Okeechobee, Fla., has been a dairy farmer for more than 57 years. His farm covers 10,000 acres and includes more than 6,000 cows that produce 45,000 gallons of milk daily.
In October, Larson received the Southeast Farmer of the Year Award at the annual Lancaster- Sunbelt Expo in Moultrie, Ga. The southeast region includes farmers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
His other honors include being elected to the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame, Dairy Hall of Fame and Alumni of Distinction in UF's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and being named Dairyman of the Century.