Loften recognized for life's work

Published: Thursday, May 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 at 11:28 p.m.
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W. Travis Loften, center, 99-year-old professor emeritus at the University of Florida and for whom Loften High School on Gainesville's east side is named, received a lifetime achievement award on Wednesday.

(MICHAEL C. WEIMAR/The Gainesville Sun)
If good health is a reward for good deeds, all you need to know about W. Travis Loften is that he is a still-jaunty 99 years old.
But in case long life isn't enough, the father of career and technical education in Alachua County was honored Wednesday evening for his considerable life accomplishments.
Loften, for whom Loften High School is named, was the guest of honor at the sixth annual award ceremony for the College-Career Tech Prep program sponsored by Santa Fe Community College, Alachua County schools and the Alachua Association for Career and Technical Education.
"Career and vocational education is so important. This provides an opportunity for some kind of employment. So many students can't go to college, and this gives them a career," Loften said. "It's been my privilege to participate in vocational education, and I have enjoyed it so much."
Also honored in the ceremony were 20 top high school and SFCC students in career or tech programs, including digital design, health profession, culinary arts, business and horticulture.
A lifetime achievement award was established this year, and officials said the first one had to go to Loften. He is a professor emeritus at the University of Florida, former chairman of UF's agricultural and extension program and devoted 41 years to career and technical education in the county, creating a number of programs.
Loften is in the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame and the Florida Vocational Association Hall of Fame.
Among those greatly influenced by Loften is Dan McKinnon, retired dean of SFCC's technology and applied sciences department and now a teacher at Loften High.
"He always went the extra mile to help students get through the maze at the University of Florida. He helped me get a part-time job and a scholarship. He touched hundreds of people across the state," McKinnon said. "He was able to get extraordinary results out of very ordinary people."
Priscilla Parker, an administrator of SFCC's College-Career Tech Prep Education program, said more than 9,000 SFCC and high school students in Alachua and Bradford counties have participated in the program during its 12 years in existence.
The students can make a seamless transition from one level of education to the next without delay or duplication of study. They are also trained to enter the work force, Parker said.
Loften said he was proud to have laid the foundation for the programs that now exist.
And his longevity? Loften credited others with that.
"When I was in my 40s and 50s I had no idea I would live this long," he said. "It's difficult to tell why I have except that I had a good mother and father, and a family home. I think that is part of all of my success."
Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or

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