Florida Strawberry Festival elects new president
PLANT CITY - A retired school agricultural supervisor has been elected the new president of the Florida Strawberry Festival board. Jim Jeffries, a longtime volunteer and board member, takes the place of Ron Gainey, who served two one-year terms. Festival presidents typically serve for two years but face election annually. “I’m looking forward to the next two years,” said the 66-year-old Jeffries, who added it was an honor to serve. Jeffries was vice president last year and moved up as part of the progression of officers.Other officers elected at the April 9 board meeting include Dan Walden, vice president; Sandee Sytsma, secretary; and Floyd Hall, treasurer. The festival also named Kenneth Parker and James C. Davis III as associate board members. Associate board members do not have voting privileges on the board. Jeffries retired in 2008 after a 39-year career with the Hillsborough County school district, including the last 19 years as the agribusiness supervisor. He first became active in the festival in 1972 as an agriculture teacher at East Bay High, when he helped students set up a petting zoo. He later became active in the festival steer shows, FFA displays and more as a teacher and then an administrator. He became an associate board member in 1994 and a full board member 10 years ago. Jeffries said he’ll have big shoes to fill in following Gainey as president. Jeffries also gave a lot of credit to General Manager Paul Davis for three consecutive years of well-attended festivals. Jeffries doesn’t expect to make many changes. “It will be pretty much staying the course,” he said.