2018 Block and Bridle National Convention
"Production in the Palms"
March 1st-4th 2018
The Florida Hotel & Conference Center
The UF Block and Bridle club would like to thank all of our sponsors, club memebers, and advisers, for their hardwork and dedication to our club. Without their efforts, this convention would not have been possible.
Thank you to all the schools who particiapted in convention and made the long journey to Florida to learn about our agriculutral industry.
Check back soon for Convention Photos!
If you have convention photos you would like to contribute, please email them to
Thanks for Visitng!
Production in the Palms
2018 National Block and Bridle Convention
Find our Convention page on Facebook & Instagram!
Tour 1 Sport Horse and Equine Veterinary Focus
Equine oriented students will want to sign up for this tour. We will visit HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. HITS, Inc. (Horse Shows in the Sun) is a special events management company that focuses on producing world class hunter/ jumper shows and offers million-dollar Grand Prix’s. Next we will tour Gloria Austin's Carriage Collection and Grand Oaks. Gloria Austin is world reknown for her carriage driving, she is known as one of the world’s premier four-in-hand drivers. Gloria serves on the Board of Directors of the Carriage Museum of America, is founding member of the Four-in-Hand Club; and active memberships in the World Coaching Club , European Private Driving Club, and British Driving Society. Currently, Gloria is a lectuer in Florida and keynotes many equine conferences and workshops. Grand Oaks is a 400 acre equestrain resort with a museum that contains equine-related artifacts and artwork, as well as over 160 antique horse-drawn carriages from Europe and America. We will finish up at Equine Reproduction Center of Peterson and Smith which conducts all aspects of assisted reproduction at its 91 acre facility in Summerfield, FL. As we travel through Marion County you will view some impressive equine facilities and begin to appreciate that this county is home to more horses than any other county in the U.S.
Tour 2 Thoroughbred Industry Focus
Marion County is considered one of four major Thoroughbred centers in the world. It is comparable to Lexington, KY; Newmarket, England; and Chantilly, France. This tour will help you understand how Ocala, FL came to be trademarked “The Horse Capitol of the World™”. We will start with a visit to McKathan Brothers Training Center. 2015 Triple Crown Winner, American Pharaoh began his career as a race horse as did many other successful horses At McKathan Brothers Training Center we’ll view horses in training on their carefully designed track. We will visit the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company known for some of the largest and most profitable Thoroughbred sales. Then we will travel to the Equine Reproduction Center of Peterson and Smith which conducts all aspects of assisted reproduction at its 91 acre facility in Summerfield, FL. Next up, we will learn more about the history and significance of this industry at the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners Association (FTBOA) headquarters. FTBOA publishes The Florida Horse, Wire to Wire and Horse Capital Digest.
Tour 3 Farming and Environmental Stewardship
Join us to explore the incredible sights and diversity at Buck Island Ranch! Covering 10,300 acres 15 miles southeast of Lake Placid, FL, the ranch is the site for the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center (MAERC), where scientists study the long-term relationship between cattle ranching, citrus production and changes in wildlife species and ecosystems. A full-scale commercial cattle operation and grove, this ranch strives to improve economic sustainability of ranching through environmental stewardship. Next, we will tour Palmetto Creek Farms, a family owned and operated swine farm located in Central Florida. This operation specializes in Free Range All-Natural Hereford Pork, with the ultimate goal of delivering the best eating experience for consumers. Special living conditions and management techniques ensure low stress levels for their animals. Their product has been praised by some of Florida’s top chefs as being one of the most consistent and highest quality pork in the industry, without artificial enhancers, preservatives, chemicals, or added moisture or fat.
Tour 4 Sleepy Creek/Adeana Springs Grass Fed Pasture to Plate
Though Florida’s beef industry is predominantly cow/calf, there is one farm that has developed a vertically integrated grass fed beef operation in Central Florida. Sleepy Creek Lands (formerly Adena Springs Ranch) utilizes over 25,000 acres of improved pasture with center pivot irrigation to maintain year round grazing needed for raising and processing organic, grass-fed beef. Adena Meat Products’ $30 million, 61,000 square ft. meat processing plant is the newest in the state and is powered by a biomass energy plant. The plant operates two days a week processing primarily cattle raised on sight. Some grain fed cattle from local feeders are also processed here.
Tour 5 South Florida Cattle
The South Florida farms and ranches that you will visit will impress you with their size and scope but also with a realization that environmental stewardship and sustainability go hand in hand. Stop one Adam’s Ranch in Fort Pierce, Fl. the 16th largest cow/calf operation in the nation and home to the Braford breed. Cattle ranching has been the family’s passion for more than 4 generations and today encompasses roughly 50,000 acres. These family operations are a wonderful part of Florida’s Agriculture and look forward to your visit. Stop two will take you to Williamson Cattle Company in Okeechobee, Florida. Williamson Cattle Company runs approximately 10,000 head of Brangus influenced cattle between Florida, Alabama, and Texas. This operation produces feeder cattle for feedlots in the Southern Plains, as well as replacement heifers. Stop three will bring you to Larson’s Family Dairy also in Okeechobee, Florida. The Larson Family is one of the largest dairy family’s in Florida, milking close to 10,000 cows.
Tour 6 Beef Cattle Giants
Take a trip to two of Florida’s most beautiful and productive cow/calf operations. Stop one is Kempfer Cattle Company, a 25,000-acre family operation in Deer Park, Florida. The Kempfer family has raised commercial cattle for over 100 years and has produced purebred Brahman Cattle since 1978. Kempfer Cattle is a diversified operation and includes a sawmill and sod operation. Stop two is Deseret Ranches, the largest cow-calf operation in the nation. Deseret stretches over 295,000 acres and four counties. The ranch is home to over 45,000 cows. They ship calves to company owned preconditioning operations and feed-yards. The impact of these two ranches on the cattle industry at the state and national level will be obvious.
Tour 7 North Central Florida Beef Cattle
Travel to north central Florida's to visit 3 beautiful and distinctly different cattle operations. Quincey Cattle Co. is a cattle preconditioning operation with the capacity for 15,000 head. They raise cattle on pasture, not paddocks. Etheridge Cattle Co. is a preconditioning and finishing operation that provides “Fresh From Florida” beef to vendors in Florida. Etheridge utilizes locally sourced commodities in their feed mill and is a member of Florida Cattle Ranchers LLC. Usher Land & Timber is a family business that produces three essential life elements: food, oxygen and water. Food from cattle and farming operations and oxygen and water through timber and best management practices. Ken Griner is the 2017/2018 Florida Cattlemen’s Association president.
Tour 8 Meat Industry Leaders
Visit Buckhead Meat of Florida, a Sysco Corporation Specialty Meat Company. Buckhead is one of the largest and most reputable meat purveyors in the industry. Buckhead holds a large inventory of dry aged USDA Prime product as well as multiple branded products such as Certified Angus Beef and Cheshire Pork. Along with cut steaks, Buckhead offers a large variety of blends for patties, as well as a selection of portion controlled pork products. Buckhead services many of the country’s premier hotels, restaurants and institutions. As a key player in Florida’s foodservice industry, Buckhead has the opportunity to work with Disney to supply high quality meat products to their high end restaurants. Not only will you visit Buckhead Meat of Florida, you will learn about Disney’s partnership with Buckhead including their role in the industry, the ideas behind buying decisions and the logistics necessary to move such a large volume of product to a very diverse group of consumers.
Tour 9 Diversified Agriculture
At Brewer Citrus Nursery, experience one of the state’s largest agricultural industries. Who doesn’t love a glass of orange juice in the morning or a squeeze of lemon on their tilapia? This tour will visit nurseries and groves and see what it takes to develop and maintain a grove.
Tarpan Blue Resource & Lease Land Management is a 2700 head cow/calf operation in Punta Gorda with over 14,000 acres in pasture land. Due to the terrain here, the cowboys work the cattle on horseback with the help of dogs and bullwhips. This ranch is a subsidiary of Babcock Ranch Preserve, one of the largest purchases of conservation land in the state’s history. Travel through the working cattle ranch and learn its history. Wander through Florida eco-systems, all the while getting up close and personal with the local wildlife.