By Stephanie McMillen
Clarence Canada, grounds maintenance supervisor on the East Campus, is a fourth generation Native Floridian, who boasts of his pioneering family and growing up in the cattle and citrus industries. Just one look at the beautiful landscape on East Campus and you’ll see Clarence’s handiwork. Clarence is best known at Valencia for his efforts to save the college money by researching and planting native plant species on campus that require less water.
Attributing this success partly to his family’s history as “land stewards,” Clarence knows the importance of protecting the environment for current and future generations. He also gives the college credit for the freedom that he has found as an employee here, and says, “I enjoy the flexibility I am given to perform my duties, give advice on improvements, share my vision, help our crew members grow in knowledge, and interact with students in the learning [process].”
Like many Valencia employees, Clarence first started his journey here as a student. In 1999, after seeing his children through their bachelor degrees and securing jobs, Clarence decided it was time to continue his own education. “I started at Valencia as a double major in business administration and environmental science,” Clarence said.
While attending classes on the East Campus, he thought Valencia would be a nice place to work until he finished his degrees, so he applied for and was hired as a groundskeeper in 2000. Clarence quickly moved up, doing a stint as a maintenance technician on West in 2001, and then on to the grounds supervisor for East Campus, CJI, and Winter Park in 2003. “I have been fortunate throughout my career at Valencia to enjoy a rich diversity of experiences in the various positions I have held,” he said.
This past December, Clarence submitted an application and supporting documents to the Arbor Day Foundation to recognize Valencia as a Tree Campus USA. Valencia has was approved, and has received the Tree Campus USA designation, a program that recognizes excellence in campus tree management, as well as student and community involvement. Currently, Clarence and the sustainability team are planning to celebrate this designation with a tree planting event at West Campus on Arbor Day in March.
Clarence has been active in several groups, committees and work teams at Valencia, including Phi Theta Kappa East Campus; the provost search on West Campus; the first Staff Council Committee at West Campus; Goal Team 5: Learning Support System; the Energy Management Committee; and the Sustainability Committee.
Outside of Valencia, Clarence holds positions on the Commercial Horticulture-Landscape Management Advisory Committee, the Orange County UF/IFAS Extension, Fort Christmas Historical Society Board of Directors, and serves as the Pine Grove Baptist Church music director, trustee and instructor.
He has certifications in operations, FDACS Pesticide, as a business management specialist, and as a horticultural professional. He also serves as an instructor for Green Industries Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources in Florida.
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