New UF extension agent in Highlands County eager to work with growers

Lourdes Perez
Lourdes Perez

LAKE ALFRED — Lourdes Pérez Cordero did not grow up in a citrus growing family, but you wouldn’t know that after meeting her. Pérez, who recently started her position as the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science Extension agent for Highlands County, is eager and enthusiastic to engage with local citrus and vegetable growers and connect them to the resources available from UF specialists working in the area.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Pérez Cordero is completing her master’s degree in entomology with UF and expects to graduate in spring, 2022. She most recently worked with Dr. Lauren Diepenbrock’s lab at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center. There she worked on management strategies for the Asian citrus psyllid, especially in field settings. She has also served as a biological aid for USDA Agricultural Research Service working on whitefly management and gaining knowledge of the Florida predatory stink bug.

“I was drawn to this position because of its work with growers and the community,” said Pérez Cordero. “When I first learned about Extension and its role in local agriculture, I thought what a great job that would be and now I have the opportunity to do that every day.”

Pérez Cordero is jumping into the role and quickly learning more about Highlands County and its agricultural challenges. She has already started to meet with growers and is setting up her outreach and informational activities. She will work collaboratively with the other regional citrus and natural resources Extension agents in providing needed educational information to area growers. She encourages growers to contact her at the UF/IFAS Extension Highlands County offices in Sebring and at