C. M. Lawrence, Jr. was born in Egypt, Arkansas on September 6, 1921. He moved to a farm in Wauchula, Florida with his family when he was 14 years old and immediately became a vocational agriculture student and FFA officer at Hardee County High School. C. M. received his Greenhand FFA Degree in 1937, and in 1940 he was elected as State FFA Vice President. After high school graduation he went on to the University of Florida, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1947.
(left) CM Lawrence family accepts plaque
When applying for his first teaching certificate, C. M. was eligible for science and junior college credentials, but he refused anything except vocational agriculture certification. He taught for ten years in Clewiston and Wauchula and started the agriculture program at Lakeland. He also continued his own education as he earned his master’s degree from the University of Florida in 1955. Then, in 1958, C. M. moved to administration when he joined the Florida Department of Education staff as Supervisor of Agricultural Education for Area Three. His work there was so outstanding that in 1966 he was named State Supervisor of Vocational Agriculture and State FFA Advisor. C. M. was the first former vocational agriculture student and FFA member to serve in those two positions. He remained close to agriculture throughout his years as a teacher and administrator through his 200-acre cattle and citrus farm. C. M. continued to excel in his state leadership role and was named Program Administrator of the Division of Technical and Adult Education in the Florida Department of Education in 1973 and Assistant Director of all vocational education programs in Florida in 1975.
C. M. was also a leader in vocational and agricultural education at the national level. He led numerous initiatives for the American Vocational Association, served as President of the Southern Region Agricultural Education Conference in 1967, and was elected to a three-year term as Vice president of the American Vocational Association from 1970 to 1973. In 1974, he achieved the pinnacle of his profession as he became the Association’s President. C. M.’s worth was recognized and honored by his community and his colleagues as he was selected outstanding member of his Lion’s Club in 1951 and was the first recipient of the Dr. Carl W. Proehl Award as the state’s outstanding educator in 1972. In 1984, he was recognized by both Florida citrus Mutual and the Florida Legislature for his distinguished service and outstanding leadership. C. M. retired in 1978 and started Lawrence Realty in Bushnell with partner and longtime friend Glenn Wade. C. M. and his wife Lenora later moved to Quincy so they could be closer to their son, Dr. Jerry Lawrence, a veterinarian. C. M. passed away in January of 2000.
C. M. Lawrence was inducted into the Florida FFA Hall of Fame October 3, 2009.