The 2020 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE welcomed 100 students including Nia Marshall of Williston to Walt Disney World Resort for an immersive, transformational four-day mentoring experience, held March 12-15.


The program, now in its 13th year, is a part of Walt Disney World’s commitment to helping the next generation of young people by inspiring them at a critical time in their development. During the event, the students discovered career opportunities, learned to pursue their dreams and interacted with celebrities and motivational speakers. They were featured in a special parade at the Magic Kingdom and received mentorship sessions. They met celebrities that included Steve Harvey (TV and radio personality), Keke Palmer (co-host of ABC’s “Strahan, Sara and Keke”), Marsai Martin (ABC’s “black-ish”), and others.They also participated in 17 hands-on career workshops based on the students’ interests, and an Aviation/Space career workshop.


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Herpetologists Edward Stanley of the Florida Museum of Natural History and Michael Bates, a curator at South Africa’s National Museum in Bloemfontein, South Africa, have discovered a ninth species of dragon lizard in the genus Smaug, previously mistaken for a similar-looking species, S. barbertonensis.


The new species, a heavily plated dark brown lizard with pale yellow bands, has been named Smaug swazicus, or the Swazi dragon lizard, in honor of the country of Eswatini, where most of the species’ range is located. Up to 13 inches from snout to tail tip, S. swazicus is an unusually big lizard for the region.


While Africa has an enormous diversity of lizards, girdled lizards are the only family exclusive to mainland Africa and, because of their crevice-dwelling lifestyle, are often restricted to specific habitats. As a result, Stanley said more stringent conservation strategies may be needed for certain Smaug species.


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One of the University of Florida’s most promising professors has been nationally recognized as an industry leader for her scholarship and service. Lauren Diepenbrock, an assistant professor of entomology working at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Citrus Research and Education Center, recently received the 2019 Southern Region Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center Friends of IPM — Future Leader Award. The award is given to individuals in the early stages of their career who have exemplified extraordinary potential and leadership promise in integrated pest management (IPM).


Since arriving at UF/IFAS in 2018, Diepenbrock has focused on developing non-pesticidal approaches for growers to use to manage citrus pests through habitat diversification within a grove, use of repellent compounds to reduce the Asian Citrus Psyllid populations, reflective mulch to disrupt host plant location, and when pesticide use is warranted, using climate models to time pesticide applications to when they are most effective.


According to a news release from UF/IFAS, Diepenbrock has been very productive in establishing her program, and hasn’t let the high workload keep her from being responsive to the ever-changing pest management needs of growers around the state.


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As part of its ongoing efforts to help local communities during the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, Hitchcock’s Markets, in partnership with the Hitchcock’s Charity Foundation, donated more than 3,000 free meals to families in need across its 10 stores. Store locations include the towns of Alachua, East Palatka, Hawthorne, Indiantown, Interlachen, Jasper, Keystone Heights, Newberry, Trenton and Williston. The local chain is giving back to its communities throughout the year by donating more than 50,000 meals yearly to those in need, according to a news release from Hitchcock’s Markets.


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The North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) made a large donation of unused medical supplies to the Florida Department of Health. According to a news release from NAVC, the supplies included 1,000 sets of medical shoe covers, hundreds of masks, isolation and surgical gowns, medical head covers, gloves, other personal protective equipment and medical-grade disinfection solutions it had in stock for hands-on workshops the NAVC conducts for veterinary professionals. The value of the donation is more than $10,000.


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Courtney Heinritz of Silver Springs was recently initiated into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest and most selective all-discipline collegiate honor society. Heinritz was initiated at University of Memphis, in Memphis, Tenn.


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Jarrius Ruth, Hawthorne resident and Hawthorne High School senior, and Terrick Ponds, Lake City resident and senior at Columbia High School, have been admitted to the fall class at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo. Both were awarded the Promise Scholarship, a $6,000-per-year scholarship for four years.


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Capital City Bank, one of the largest publicly traded financial holding companies headquartered in Florida on April 1 celebrated 125 years of service. In 2019, Capital City Bankers gave 15,054 hours of service to their hometowns, in addition to donations made through the Capital City Bank Group Foundation.