May 3, 2021UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie announces new director
Four weeks ago, Grantly Ricketts made the switch from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and University of Florida Extension Osceola to Extension St. Lucie County to fulfill a role he has trained for most of his life.
As the new commercial horticulture agent and director of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and University of Florida (UF/IFAS) Extension St. Lucie, Grantly will use his life’s work in agriculture, education, horticulture, and animal sciences to encourage innovation and provide resources for faculty, staff and volunteers to successfully address the needs of St. Lucie County residents and visitors.
“My first order of business is to place emphasis on marketing at the extension level and at the core of that is providing the highest level of customer service with a strategic plan in hand,” said Grantly. “Agents do a great job at marketing extension as a whole, but we need to collaborate with others to extend those marketing efforts in a variety of ways and to reach as many residents and businesses with the services they need and want.”
In his role, Grantly plans to build additional programs with agents and collaboration with scientists that specialize in livestock and agriculture as well as promote collaboration with commodity groups. He also plans to increase demonstration programs in turfgrass, while increasing course and certification offerings for arborists and landscape programs. In meeting residential needs, his plan is to increase family and consumer science offerings, as well as building community resources that dive into community development while building public and private partnerships. His focus will also emphasize building the current 4-H program to increase middle and high school participation.
Grantly, originally from Jamaica, grew up working with dairy cows at his family’s farm. At the age of 16, he enrolled to pursue an agriculture certificate. He later earned an associate degree in general agriculture at the College of Agriculture in Jamaica, followed by bachelor and master’s degrees in animal science with a focus on animal reproductive physiology from Prairie View A&M University.
Grantly brings more than 13 years of agent experience to St. Lucie. Not including the volunteer work he provided, his first role was serving as an agriculture and natural resources agent at University of Georgia. With a population of more than a million residents, he also planned and coordinated activities for 250 master gardener volunteers.
Grantly transitioned to the position of Commercial Horticulture agent for Osceola County working with plant nurseries, sod and turf production, and landscape maintenance professionals.
“I applied research to the work that resulted in demonstration efforts,” he said. “In Osceola, I had access to 50 acres where we conducted turf grass trials in the fight against root rot while working with plant breeders to develop new St. Augustine cultivars.”
Grantly’s educational journey included serving as a general science and agriculture science at Little London High School in Jamaica from 1989 to 2000. His love of horticulture took shape when he took a position as a garden department manager for seven years at a Home Depot in Atlanta, Georgia.