2022 Woman of the Year in Agriculture

Glades Crop Care’s Madeline Mellinger Honored as Innovator in Integrated Pest Management 

by JULIE GMITTER 

For the past 30 years, the Woman of the Year in Agriculture title has been awarded to Florida women who have made outstanding contributions to the Florida Agriculture industry. On August 22, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services named Madeline Mellinger, owner and founder of Glades Crop Care, Inc., as the 2022 Woman of the Year in Agriculture. Sponsored by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and in conjunction with the Florida State Fair Authority, this award is given to the recipient at the Florida State Fairgrounds during the Florida State Fair in Tampa. 

As the founder and CEO of Glades Crop Care, Mellinger revolutionized the way Florida farmers approach pest control in their crops, including but not limited to fresh vegetable crops, citrus, rice, and sugarcane. Glades Crop Care was founded by Mellinger in 1972 and she remains the CEO of the company today. During the past several decades, Mellinger worked to demonstrate to growers how need-based pesticide application could benefit their operations, versus the old industry standard of calendar-based application. 

In the past, the outstanding women in agriculture have received the Woman of the Year award for their work in the cattle, vegetable, timber, citrus, row crops, equine, horticulture, tropical fruits, sugar cane, dairy, agricultural journalism, and agricultural education and outreach areas of the industry. 

 “It’s an honor to announce Madeline Mellinger as this year’s Woman of the Year in Agriculture,” says Fried. “Madeline has dedicated 50 years to Florida’s agriculture industry and is an innovator in the field of integrated pest management. As a business owner, scientist, and mentor, she has contributed greatly to the development of Florida’s next generation of growers and our agricultural industry as a whole. We are thrilled to be able to celebrate her with this award.”

In addition to founding Glades Crop Care, Mellinger also has served on numerous agricultural committees and boards, such as the UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center, a vice president search committee, and co-chair of the UF/IFAS Strategic Planning Committee. She and her husband, Charles Mellinger, helped make the Doctor of Plant Medicine Program at the University of Florida a reality, helping guide Florida’s future innovators in agriculture. She also founded and launched the Foundation of Environmental Agriculture Education, which is a scholarship fund for students majoring in crop production or related fields. This is not the only award or recognition Mellinger has received for her lifetime of work in the industry: she was also named a Friend of IFAS in 2014 and was one of Florida Trend’s Living Legends for 2018-2020

Although the program has been awarded to Florida women annually for more than three decades, the award ceremony got an upgrade/enhancement in 2001. Since then, attendees of the award ceremony are shown a documentary about the recipient and their contributions. Booklets outlining the same are also given to attending members at the award ceremony.

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