Lee Hayes Byron accepts offer to become new director of UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability program in Sarasota County

She has served with county government since 2005

Lee Hayes Byron. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Lee Hayes Byron has accepted a conditional offer to become the new director of Sarasota County’s University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Services (UF/IFAS) Extension and Sustainability program, the county announced on April 4.

Byron has served with Sarasota County Government since 2005, starting her career as a land manager in the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection program, a news release points out. The Sarasota native became the county’s Sustainability program manager in 2008 and has served in that position since then, the release adds. The Sustainability program merged with UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County in 2014, the release notes.

“I am excited to have Lee Hayes officially join our team,” said Brenda Rogers, Southwest District extension director with UF/IFAS Extension, in the release. “She brings a wealth of organizational knowledge from the county government side of the partnership and a genuine desire to learn the UF/IFAS Extension side,” Rogers added in the release.

“As part of the national Extension system founded in 1914, UF/IFAS Extension provides practical education to help individuals and organizations make informed choices through community initiatives, classes and volunteer opportunities related to food systems, water and environmental resources and youth and community resource development,” the release explains.

“Backed by the commitment of Sarasota County Government to foster thriving, sustainable communities, UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability develops and delivers economically viable, environmentally sound and socially equitable programs and services,” the release adds.

“We believe that Lee Hayes’ experience and tenure with the county will be a tremendous benefit to both organizations and the greater community,” said Sarasota County Administrator Jonathan Lewis in the release. “She has played an integral role in Sarasota County’s efforts to serve as environmental stewards.”

Byron previously worked in Washington, D.C., as the coordinator of the U.S. Climate Action Network, a coalition of environmental organizations working to establish climate change policies at the state, federal and international levels, the release notes. In her previous role as Sustainability manager, she was responsible for the county’s sustainability education and outreach programs and oversaw the addition of more than $4 million in grant funds to support those programs, the release points out.

“It will be an honor to lead this group of knowledgeable and committed staff and volunteers as we work together to serve this community and make a tangible impact for its people, economy and environment,” said Byron, who is expected to start her new role on April 20.