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Long-time Ranchers and Philanthropists Receive Ethics Award

Published: September 10, 2010
Long-time ranchers and philanthropists Marsha and Jay B. Starkey Jr. will receive the Tampa Bay Ethics Award at a breakfast and ceremony on Friday, Sept. 24, from 7:30-9 a.m. in the Vaughn Center Crescent Club on The University of Tampa campus. The Award is presented by UT’s Center for Ethics.

The Starkey family has been ranching in Pasco County for more than 70 years. Throughout that time, they have treated workers like family. Ranch hands were treated with fairness and respect, paid a decent wage and invited into the Starkey home.

“Their ‘innate sense of goodness’ ... has prompted the Starkeys to open their doors and hearts to countless people and families over the course of their lives, from ranch hands and neighbors to teenagers and adults struggling to find their own purpose and path,” said the person who nominated the couple for the award. “Indeed, the Starkey name has long been synonymous with honesty, trustworthiness and decency, values passed down through the generations on both sides of the family.”

In addition to running the ranch, the Starkeys have created a legacy of conservation through the Starkey Wilderness Preserve, one of the largest undeveloped tracts of land in Pasco County. In the early 2000s, the Starkeys sold their herd of cattle and started J.B. Starkey's Flatwoods Adventures, an ecotourism venture. Earlier this year, the family created the Starkey Center for Nature & Culture where the area’s rich ranching history is preserved through videos, photos and written stories.

Both have received recognition as active members of the community. Marsha was named West Central Florida Girl Scouts’ Woman of Distinction in 2008. In 1997 Jay B. was honored with the Florida Agriculture Environmental Leadership Award.

The Starkeys have donated $1 million to aid the expansion of Morton Plant North Bay Hospital and contributed $1 million to the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay to support the Florida Orchestra and Master Chorale, where Jay B. is a Board Member Emeritus.

This is the 20th annual Business Ethics Breakfast put on by the Center for Ethics at UT. The center conducts many programs throughout the year that combine education and business services, and is supported by an advisory board of business and community leaders. Faculty and staff associated with the center conduct research that aids in ethics curriculum development and usable information for the professional community.

Former winners of the ethics award include Gov. Bob Martinez, Freddie Solomon and Frederick B. Karl. Nominees for the award must live and work in the Tampa Bay area, and must demonstrate high ethical character in the course of their everyday lives. They must also promote and encourage ethics and integrity in the workplace or other organizations, and they must exhibit respect, trustworthiness and fairness.

The price to attend the Tampa Bay Ethics Awards is $25 per person or $150 per table of eight. For information or reservations, contact Angie Johnson at (813) 258-7415 or