‘Alligator Ron’ Bergeron celebrated for his rags to riches path

Clarence Thomas and Ron Bergeron Clarence Thomas and Ron Bergeron Clarence Thomas, left, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and Ron Bergeron, a new member of the Horatio Alger Association, at the Supreme Court chamber in Washington, D.C., on April 5, 2018. Ron Bergeron Ron Bergeron
"Alligator," Ron Bergeron, Land developer and former member of the Florida Wildlife Commission Board, arrives for a memorial service for Wayne Huizenga, Thursday, March 29, 2018, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
Paul Anthony Novelly and Ron Bergeron
Paul Anthony Novelly and Ron Bergeron
Paul Anthony Novelly, left, past president of the Horation Alger Association with Ron Bergeron, a newly inducted member of the organization on April 6, 2018 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. High water levels threaten Everglades High water levels threaten Everglades
Ron Bergeron, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner, speaks with the media about the danger of high levels of water in the Everlades from record rainfall in early June 2017. Ron Bergeron

Ron Bergeron
Ron Bergeron Sr is devoting his considerable wealth and clout to save the everglades by trying to create a commission which would bring together all the parties involved. Here, Bergeron stands with one of his older business vehicles at his Pemproke Pines offices. Roper Roper
Ron Bergeron, at left, about to rope a calf during a recent rodeo as longtime friend Billy Culligan rides as his partner at right. Wild turkeys
Wild turkeys
Billy Culligan, left, and Ron Bergeron hold the two wild turkeys that Bergeron called in while hunting during the spring turkey season on his Green Glades West ranch in 2013.  Bergeron Bergeron
Florida Wildlife Commission member Ron Bergeron, right, pilots his airboat along with his daughter Starr, Wednesday, June 24, 2009, in the Florida Everglades. Everglades crusader Everglades crusader
FWC commissioner Ron Bergeron and Congressman Ron Klein walk through the water on a tree island in the Everglades. Cowboy Cowboy
Ron Begeron at his home / ranch on US 27. , Broward County. Bergeron putting on his western garb , looking in the mirror. He is an appointee to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which oversees wildlife protection in the state. . While he's a big supporter of the Everglades, some environmentalists have objected to his appointment. Ron Bergeron, left, the Broward County entrepreneur, land developer and member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. At right, Bergeron’s pal Rick Case, the owner of The Rick Case Automotive Group, which has 16 automobile dealers Ron Bergeron, left, the Broward County entrepreneur, land developer and member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. At right, Bergeron’s pal Rick Case, the owner of The Rick Case Automotive Group, which has 16 automobile dealers
Ron Bergeron, left, the Broward County entrepreneur, land developer and member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. At right, Bergeron’s pal Rick Case, the owner of The Rick Case Automotive Group, which has 16 automobile dealerships. They were talking at Rick Case Kia in Sunrise after Gov. Rick Scott appeared there on May 3, 2017.
hall of Famer
hall of Famer
Ron Bergeron (center) talks with his daughter, Starr Bergeron,14, of Weston (left) and granddaughter Karalyne Busbee, (foreground-center)10, also of Weston before the 2006 Broward County Sports Hall of Fame Banquet & Induction ceremony which was held at the Broward County Convention Center, located in Ft. Lauderdale. Inductee Ron Bergeron was honored for his career in the rodeo. Everglades crusader Everglades crusader
Ron Bergeron Sr, rides one of his airboats towards his camp in the everglades. New rules create unhappy campers New rules create unhappy campers
"There as proud of the big ones as they are the small ones," said Ron Bergeron of Unincorporated Broward County, about the people who have built and used recreation camps in the Everglades for generations. The camp he's standing in, is known as Duck Camp, and while modest in comparison to his own, he still values all spaces like this where "people can go to get away from it all." Cowboy Cowboy
Developer Ron Bergeron tying up his 15 yr-old quarter horse named Sylvester, at a recent evening rodeo at the arena named after his family. Cowboy Cowboy
Ron's boot as he rides his horse during Wednesday night rodeo at the Bergeron rodeo arena. On the job On the job
Ron Bergeron, walking at a work site on the sawgrass expressway with top bosses from his land development state road division. L-R are Bergeron's son, J.R. Bergeron, Mark Franklin, Ron Bergeron, and Geoff Waite. Making deals Making deals
Developer Ron Bergeron, working his cell phone from his corporate office.. Big Cypress Swamp Big Cypress Swamp
Ron Bergeron takes in the view from the cabin at his camp in Big Cypress Swamp on Nov. 10, 2011. 
Prizes
Prizes
Ron Bergeron Sr is devoting his considerable wealth and clout to save the everglades by trying to create a commission which would bring together all the parties involved. Here, Bergeron shows off some of his prize buckles from rodeos. Everglades crusader Everglades crusader
Ron Bergeron Sr rides one of his airboats towards his camp in the everglades. Ron Bergeron, left, the Broward County entrepreneur, land developer and member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. At right, Florida Gov. Rick Scott. They were talking at Rick Case Kia in Sunrise after Scott made an appearance there Ron Bergeron, left, the Broward County entrepreneur, land developer and member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. At right, Florida Gov. Rick Scott. They were talking at Rick Case Kia in Sunrise after Scott made an appearance there
Ron Bergeron, left, the Broward County entrepreneur, land developer and member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. At right, Florida Gov. Rick Scott. They were talking at Rick Case Kia in Sunrise after Scott made an appearance there on May 3, 2017.
Ron Bergeron
Ron Bergeron
Hall of Fame Inductee Ron Bergeron, of Weston/ rodeo.
Duffers put the game of golf out to pasture
Duffers put the game of golf out to pasture
The town of Davie held it's first annual charity event, a cowboy golf classic at Robbins Lodge Park in Davie. Ron Bergeron, decked out in his cowboy outfit, hit his first drive. Ron Bergeron in Pembroke Pines Ron Bergeron in Pembroke Pines
Ron Bergeron stands next to the sign outside his corporate offices in Pembroke Pines in 2003. At headquarters
At headquarters
Ron Bergeron uses his speaker phone in his personal office at corporate headquarters.
A regular cowboy
A regular cowboy
Ron Bergeron goes through a practice ride before a calf roping event during a recent evening rodeo.
With his horse
With his horse
Ron Bergeron with 15 year-old quarter horse named Sylvester, at a recent evening rodeo at the arena named after his family.
Ron Bergeron and Marty Kiar
Ron Bergeron and Marty Kiar
Developer and businessman Ron Bergeron, right, was among supporters of property appraiser Marty Kiar at his swearing-in ceremony in January 2017. 
Ron Bergeron and Bill Nelson
Ron Bergeron and Bill Nelson
Commissioner Ron Bergeron, right, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, explains to Sen. Bill Nelson in a 2013 file photo that the flooded island that they're standing on in the Everglades should be 18 inches above the normal water level for the time of year and that the excess water needs to be allowed to flow south to protect the wildlife, plants and environment in the Everglades. Ron Bergeron and Bill Nelson
Ron Bergeron and Bill Nelson
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., speaks with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Ron Bergeron as they stand in an airboat as he and other officials tour a flooded part of the Florida Everglades on Aug. 22, 2013. Lt. Gov Carlos Lopez-Cantera and developer Ron Bergeron Lt. Gov Carlos Lopez-Cantera and developer Ron Bergeron
Lt. Gov Carlos Lopez-Cantera and developer Ron Bergeron at Sun Bergeron recycling facility in Deerfield Beach.
Fathe and son
Fathe and son
Ron Bergeron and his son Lonnie Bergeron walk out of the three-bredroom, two bath Bergeron camp, that some, like Charles Moorehead, a family friend, jokingly desribe as the Mercedes of recreational camps. The state of Florida and the South Florida Water Management District are trying to negotiate leases with the people who camp on state land. 2014 Mayor's Gala 2014 Mayor's Gala
Aleida "Ali" Waldman, attorney, with "Alligator Ron'' Bergeron, developer-businessman-Everglades-lover, and Broward Commissioner Marty Kiar.  Biden shoutout Biden shoutout
Ron Bergeron, in black hat, waves as Vice President Joe Biden talks about him as he spoke spoke to a small audience along Tamiami Trail at a water management area with the Everglades National Park behind them in April 2012. Ron Bergeron and Gov. Rick Scott Ron Bergeron and Gov. Rick Scott
Ron Bergeron, a member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, walks with Gov. Rick Scott before the Interestate 595 ribbon-cutting ceremony in Davie in March 2014.  Ron Bergeron and daughter Starr

Ron Bergeron and daughter Starr
Starr Bergeron shot this trophy wild turkey with a 12 1/4-inch beard hunting with her father, Ron, on the family's property in Hendry County in April 2016. Big Cypress Swamp Big Cypress Swamp
Widlife decorates Ron Bergeron's cabin in his camp in Big Cypress Swamp on Nov. 10, 2011. Ron Bergeron and Ali Waldman Ron Bergeron and Ali Waldman
Ali Waldman and Ron Bergeron. Wild West
Wild West
Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh and Ron Bergeron promote the Urban League of Broward County's "Wild Wild West Red Gala" held on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014.  Bergeron Rodeo Grounds Bergeron Rodeo Grounds
Dan Weekley, from left, Paul Bowers, Sr., Ron Bergeron, Troy Weekley and Wayne Weekley at the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds in Davie, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. Ron Bergeron and daughter Starr Ron Bergeron and daughter Starr
Ron Bergeron, right, pilots his airboat along with his daughter Starr, on Wednesday, June 24, 2009, in the Florida Everglades.  Ron Bergeron on Indian mound Ron Bergeron on Indian mound
Florida Wildlife Commission member Ron Bergeron is seen on an Indian mound in the Everglades, on June 24, 2009. 

Ron Bergeron
Ron Bergeron
Ron Bergeron.  Ron Bergeron Ron Bergeron
Ron Bergeron. Ron Bergeron Ron Bergeron
Ron Bergeron of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission drives his airboat through Water Conservation Area 3 in the Everglades in 2013.  Ron Bergeron, left, the Broward County entrepreneur, land developer and member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. At right, Bergeron’s pal Rick Case, the owner of The Rick Case Automotive Group, which has 16 automobile dealer Ron Bergeron, left, the Broward County entrepreneur, land developer and member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. At right, Bergeron’s pal Rick Case, the owner of The Rick Case Automotive Group, which has 16 automobile dealer
Ron Bergeron, left, the Broward County entrepreneur, land developer and member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. At right, Bergeron’s pal Rick Case, the owner of The Rick Case Automotive Group, which has 16 automobile dealerships. They were talking at Rick Case Kia in Sunrise after Gov. Rick Scott appeared there on May 3, 2017.
Ron Bergeron
Ron Bergeron
Ron Bergeron, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commissioner, owned Green Glades West Ranch in 2012. Ron Bergeron in 2012 Ron Bergeron in 2012


In 2012, FWC commissioner Ron Bergeron demonstrated the perils for wildlife of holding too much water in the Everglades in a place where the water would normally be just above his knees. He and the FWC are trying to prevent this from happening again.
 

Ron Bergeron is uniquely South Florida: Developer. Environmentalist. Alligator wrestler. Road builder. Gladesman. Friend of governors. Cowboy.

Now, Bergeron, 74, is a recipient of the Horatio Alger award, placing him in the ranks of an elite group of men and women who started from nothing and have become enormously successful.

Along with Bergeron, the dozen people honored this month include the instantly recognizable – actor Rob Lowe and entertainer Reba McEntire – as well as less familiar faces – Jimmy John Liautaud, founder of the Jimmy John’s sandwich chain, and Lee Scott Jr., former CEO of Walmart.

Recipients were inducted during three days of events this month in Washington, D.C.

Bergeron often exudes a confident swagger – but not about the Alger award.

“It’s very overwhelming,” he said. “It’s truly a life-changing experience to be inducted into Horatio Alger when you look at all the people in the past, and what they’ve accomplished.”

Humble beginnings


Bergeron epitomizes the rags-to-riches American story popularized by Horatio Alger’s novels in the 19th Century, and is a characteristic of those who are honored each year.

His boyhood in Davie was “very humble,” Bergeron said. He said his parents built their first home from scrap lumber out of freight boxes from Port Everglades. His father’s grocery store started in a chicken coop. His mother was a waitress.

He left home at age 18 with $235 in his pocket.

By 22, he had a bulldozer and a dump truck. His background with horses and in rodeo convinced developer Mort Kalin to hire Bergeron to lay the infrastructure for 3,000 acres that became Pembroke Lakes and the Pembroke Mall.

Today


Bergeron is the founder and CEO of the Bergeron Family of Companies, businesses that employ hundreds of people in highway construction, rock pits and quarries, agriculture, real estate development, waste development and disaster recovery services.

Bergeron, who lives on a ranch in western Broward, said he’s never abandoned what brought him joy as a younger man. “Even with all my success, I’ve never traded my airboat for a yacht or my rodeo horse for a thoroughbred racehorse,” he said.

One thing that may have changed is his penchant for wrestling alligators – or at least willingness to own up to it. After a 2006 encounter with an alligator resulted in two broken fingers and severe puncture wounds in one of his hands, he said his life-partner of 20 years, Ali Waldman, told him she didn’t want any more alligator wrestling.

Does it still happen? “I sure don’t tell my better half,” he said.

Philanthropy


Automobile dealer Rick Case said Bergeron is sincere, honest and caring. They met 25 years ago at a meeting to plan a fundraising effort for the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs.

Among the organizations that hold fundraising events at his Green Glades Ranch, the Boys and Girls Clubs is one of the most important to Bergeron. Case said it now attracts 1,000 people and said it’s raised about $10 million over the years.

The Everglades


Besides his family, Bergeron’s biggest passion is the Everglades. His grandfather, a game warden, introduced him to the Glades starting at age 4, before its transformation by levies, pump stations and the construction of Alligator Alley.

For 10 years, he served as a member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, first appointed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist and reappointed by Gov. Rick Scott. At the FWC, he focused on the Glades. He’s thought about running for governor himself.

He’s conversant in technical subjects such as hydrology, hydrostatic pressure, the acre feet of water that used to flow from the north to Florida Bay, and the environmental effects of reductions in water flow and pollution.

Bergeron said restoration of the ecosystem is vital for the region’s environment. “My dream [is] to try to save that for all Floridians, and it’s important because 8 million people rely on the Everglades for drinking water,” he said. “If we don’t save it, our whole quality of life will change.”

About the Horatio Alger awards


Organization: The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans honors the achievements of corporate, civic and cultural leaders from the U.S. and Canada who have a history of charitable activities. It was founded in 1947.

Scholarships: The organization awards scholarships to Horatio Alger Scholars who have faced significant adversity but overcome their challenges. Last year the organization awarded more than $18 million in scholarships.

Past recipients: Past South Florida recipients include the late H. Wayne Huizenga, who founded Waste Management, Blockbuster and AutoNation; Mike Jackson, the current CEO of Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation; and Jordan Zimmerman, founder of Zimmerman Advertising. When Jackson was honored in 2014, he said it was “gratifying and humbling to be inducted into such a prestigious organization.”

Ron Bergeron’s advice to Horatio Alger Scholars


“Always be humble and you have to earn respect. You can’t buy it. And always be appreciative. Always be kind, because kindness is free.”

“In building relationships and being honest and trustworthy, learn how to do something a little bit better than your competition.”

“Once you become successful, you’re going to be happier that you can help others.”

SOURCE http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/fl-reg-ron-bergeron-everglades-developer-horatio-alger-20180426-story.html
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