Doyle Conner, Sr.
In 1928, thirty-three young farm boys met in a Kansas City hotel to chart their future, and the National FFA Organization was born. That same year Doyle Conner was born in Starke, Florida, and FFA has remained a part of his life and career ever since.
Doyle grew up on the family farm and demonstrated his leadership skills early as president of his high school FFA chapter, 4-H club, and senior class. In an interesting twist of fate, Doyle met Commissioner of Agriculture Nathan Mayo at a 4-H Forestry Camp when was 14 years old and said that when Mayo was no longer commissioner, he would like to take over the post. Doyle was elected state FFA President in 1946-47 and moved on to become National FFA President in 1948-49. He led the Florida delegation to the National Convention in Kansas City aboard a train called the Doyle Conner Special. Already an experienced national leader at the age of 21, Doyle was elected to the Florida House of Representatives while he was still a student at the University of Florida. After completing his degree in 1952, Doyle was re-elected four times and became the youngest person to be named Speaker of the House in 1958.
Wanting to do more for Florida agriculture, Doyle successfully ran for Commissioner of Agriculture in 1960 and served in this position with great distinction for 30 years. From opening international markets for Florida commodities, to creating the Office of Consumer Services, to leading successful efforts to eradicate the Medfly and other pests, Doyle took a hands-on approach to his administration that won him many friends and admirers throughout the industry. Citrus canker, brucellosis, freezes, droughts, and countless other problems challenged Doyle during his watch, but he was more than equal to the task of protecting and promoting Florida agriculture. At the same time, Doyle continued to be a strong advocate for youth in agriculture by sponsoring 4-H, FFA, and FHA awards; promoting youth activities at the Florida State Fair; and many other initiatives. In 1984 Doyle chaired a commission that reformed and helped save vocational education in Florida, and despite his hectic schedule, he spoke at local FFA banquets and award ceremonies whenever possible.
Doyle is a charter member of the Florida FFA Foundation and has been a major fundraiser and supporter of Florida FFA. Doyle was selected as one of ten Outstanding Young Men in America by the U.S. Jaycees in 1961. He was elected to the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1985, the Alpha Gamma Rho Hall of Fame in 1992, and the 4-H Hall of Fame in 2002. He received the Florida Blue Key Service Award in 2006. Doyle has received many other awards and recognitions throughout his distinguished career in agriculture and public service.
Since his retirement in 1991, Doyle has enjoyed running his Bar C Ranch in Monticello and spending time with his children Doyle Jr., Kimberly, and John, and his six grandchildren. He continues to be a strong supporter of Florida agriculture and FFA.
Doyle Conner was inducted into the Florida FFA Hall of Fame on October 13, 2007.