University of Florida honors Red Larson

GAINESVILLE – Louis E. “Red” Larson was presented with the Distinguished Achievement Award by the University of Florida at the 10 a.m. fall graduation ceremony on Dec. 17.

The award is one of the highest honors bestowed upon a UF supporter. The award recognizes exceptional achievements of the individual in his or her chosen profession, demonstrated leadership, and other exemplary accomplishments that merit special recognition by the university. Larson was nominated for the award by the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).

Louis E. “Red” Larson

Mr. Larson’s first job as a Miami Daily News paperboy in the 1930s enabled him to purchase his first cow.

He worked on weekends and during summers to hand-milk cows for a local dairyman. In 1947 he began his own dairy farm and now Larson Dairy, Inc. is one of the largest dairy operations in the Southeast, producing more than 200 million pounds of milk annually.

“Through (Larson’s) hard work, entrepreneurial spirit, business ability and willingness to embrace modern science and cutting edge management practices, he built Larson Farms from the ground up by leading people and building a team of employees that believed in Larson and his vision for modern dairy operation,” said the Executive Vice President of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association Jim Handley in his letter of support for Mr. Larson’s nomination.

Mr. Larson became an early adopter of improved feeding, housing and milking methods, which led to a close working relationship with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. He and his family are generous supporters of the UF/IFAS animal sciences department, Florida 4-H and Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.

“(Larson’s) farm is our laboratory for dairy science and the UF veterinary school,” said UF/IFAS animal sciences professor Peter J. Hansen. “A lot of people have been able to complete their degrees because they have been able to conduct experiments at Larson Dairy. The Dairy Science building and my teaching position are both named after him, and I’m very proud of that.”

Among his many accomplishments, Mr. Larson was the only Floridian to serve as president of the National Milk Producers Federation, helped develop present-day milk marketing techniques, and was elected to the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame and Dairy Hall of Fame. He was named an Honorary Alumnus by the UF Alumni Association in 2006.

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