April 20, 2018 – His name is one of the most recognized in Florida, and the prestigious Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., honored Ron Bergeron, Sr. along with Lee Scott, Jr. (Wal-Mart CEO), Rob Lowe, Reba McEntire, Jimmy John Liautaud (Jimmy John Subs) and other notables at its 71st annual Horatio Alger Awards in Washington, D.C. The Horatio Alger Association is a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging young people to pursue their dreams through higher education.
As part of the annual three-day celebration, the Association inducted its New Member Class of 2018, comprised of 12 accomplished corporate, civic and cultural leaders from across the United States and Canada, all of whom have “demonstrated honesty, determination and a strong work ethic in their pursuit of personal and professional success.” Members have faced adversities, overcoming significant life challenges to achieve their success. Events during the weekend included formal induction ceremonies at the United States Supreme Court, the State Department and Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall.
“To receive the Horatio Alger Award along with so many recognized and successful entrepreneurs, artists, CEOs and cabinet members, is one of the highest honors I’ve ever received,” says Bergeron. “Philanthropy is a calling for me. Receiving this award and being inducted into the Association as a new member will allow me to motivate and help even more young people around the country via mentorship, advice and guidance. I’m very thankful and honored.”
Recognized and respected across Florida, Bergeron Land Development is one of the state’s largest site development and roadway construction contractors, built from the ground up by its founder Ron Bergeron. The Bergeron Family of Companies includes Bergeron Properties & Investment Corp., a real estate holding company, Bergeron Land Development and Bergeron Emergency Services, a disaster recovery business. A former Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner and founder of the Bergeron Everglades Museum & Wildlife Foundation, Ron Bergeron is a driven businessman, passionate conservationist and committed philanthropist.
“Ron is an excellent example of someone who has worked tirelessly for more than half a century to grow many successful businesses,” says Matthew Rose, president, Horatio Alger Association and 2013 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “It is important to acknowledge that in his rise to success, he has never lost sight of the importance of family and giving back to others. His entrepreneurial spirit will serve our Scholars well, and I look forward to working alongside him to further the reach of our programs in his home state of Florida and across the country.”
Affectionately nicknamed “Alligator Ron,” Bergeron rose from rags to riches through decades of hard work, a shining example that the American Dream is alive and well. He learned from his grandfather, a game warden in the Everglades, how to wrestle alligators as a young boy. After graduating high school and leaving home with just over $200 to his name, Bergeron took a job pumping gas. A few months later, he began working for his former Boy Scout Master, who allowed him to live in a home on his coconut plantation in exchange for help with grounds maintenance. Bergeron soon bought his first tractor, baling hay and harvesting fruit for his boss and several neighbors. Within a few years, he saved up enough money to create Bergeron Land Development, Inc.; by the time he was 25, he had made his first million by investing in real estate, rock quarries and selling limestone. He had 150 employees.
An ardent champion for the protection of the Everglades, Bergeron also owns homes bordering the subtropical ecosystem. He is active with the Everglades Coordinating Council, an umbrella organization for conservation and sportsmen’s groups in South Florida, and supports the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, the Broward Partnership for the Homeless, Equine Therapies for Handicapped Children, the Nova Entrepreneur Program and many other charities.
The Horatio Alger New Member Class of 2018 represents the organization’s core values – perseverance, integrity and a commitment to excellence. The annual event raised a record sum of more than $15 million, which will fund the organization’s growing college scholarship programs.
Since the establishment of its scholarship program in 1984, Horatio Alger Association has afforded more than 25,000 students the opportunity to pursue a college education. In 2017 alone, the Association awarded more than $18 million in need-based scholarships. As part of the Association’s programming, Members actively support and encourage Scholars in an effort to build the next generation of American leaders. Members and friends of the Association fully fund its scholarship programs and 94 percent of the organization’s operating budget is spent on programs for Members and Scholars.