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UF/IFAS DeLuca Preserve

UF/IFAS DeLuca Preserve


About the Preserve

In 2020, Elisabeth DeLuca made a gift to the University of Florida of more than 27,000 rural acres near Yeehaw Junction in Florida’s southern Osceola County. The intent is to protect one of the last natural areas of its kind and to serve as a living classroom/laboratory for students and faculty throughout the university. Elisabeth DeLuca’s contribution is among the largest gifts of real estate ever to any university in the nation.

Collaborative Management

The UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) along with numerous colleges within the university will direct research on the property. Scientists hope some of that research will help land developers, conservationists, and policymakers learn how to balance growth, agriculture, and preservation around the state. 

In addition to donating the land to UF, a conservation easement was placed on the property and Ducks Unlimited - the world’s largest not-for-profit private organization dedicated to wetlands conservation - was selected to be the recipient of this easement.

Expanding Research Potential

In structuring the gift of land between UF and Duck’s Unlimited in this way, conservation protections are considered while still making it possible for important teaching, education, and research to take place.

Together, UF and Ducks Unlimited will ensure that the land remains protected and sustainable for generations to come. UF/IFAS will direct research on the property. University officials believe work done there will also create opportunities for community collaboration and large-scale research - which will set UF apart from its peer institutions.

  • Facilities

    Onsite Lodging - The Preserve has minimal options for lodging accommodations for users.

    • White tenant house at HWY441 entrance. 3 bedrooms with 4 beds and one full bathroom are located in the house with a washer and dryer and full kitchen.
    • RV trailer near the tenant house at HWY441 entrance.
    • Nearby hotels:
      • Hampton Inn, Vero Beach (25 miles)
      • Holiday Inn Express, Vero Beach (25 miles)
      • Country Inn & Suites, Vero Beach (25 miles)
      • Hampton Inn, Okeechobee (34 miles)

    Superintendent Residence

    • Bldg 4871 Jorge Poll, farm supervisor, lives at this residence near the main grove entrance on SR60; address is 2650 E. State Rd 60. Jorge can be reached at or