Fred G. Garner
If you want Freddie Garner to do something, just tell him that it can’t be done. From humble beginnings and confronting great challenges along the way, Freddie Garner became one of the most successful FFA advisors in Florida agricultural education and continues to be a strong supporter of agriscience education and Florida agriculture today.
Freddie Garner was born on December 21, 1932 in Trenton, Florida. He was the second youngest child in a farm family of eight children - five of whom died at an early age. The family had no air conditioning and no electricity until Freddie was a teenager, but determination to succeed caused Freddie to load watermelons, hitchhike to Colorado to work on the Monarch Pass, and do whatever else he could to better himself. His hard work got him into the University of Florida, but his college years were interrupted by his service in the Army during the Korean War. When he returned, he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1957 and his master’s degree in 1958. Freddie immediately obtained a position as agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Groveland High School, a job he held for 21 years. Under his leadership, ten of his students became state FFA officers – the most of any FFA advisor at the time. Many of his FFA members won local, state, and national honors, including a Star Farmer of America finalist. His chapter also won the National Gold Emblem. Freddie’s excellence as a teacher and mentor was recognized as he was named Lake County Teacher of the Year and Florida Vocational Teacher of the Year. From 1960 to 1965 he even tried his hand at radio broadcasting, reading agricultural news in the mornings before school. In addition to his teaching duties at Groveland, Freddie also provided leadership in many professional organizations. He was president of the Florida Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association in 1969 and Lake County Farm Bureau president in 1976.
In 1979 Freddie decided to take a new direction in his career, and he accepted the office of Vocational Education Coordinator for Lake County Schools. After five outstanding years in this position, Freddie ran for and was elected as the Lake County Superintendent of Schools. After serving as superintendent until 1988, Freddie retired formally, but he still continued his active involvement in Florida agriculture and FFA. Freddie continues to be a Farm Bureau Director, as he has since 1962, and raises show cattle for FFA members to exhibit in the Lake County Fair. In 2001 he was honored as the breeder for the Overall Grand Champion and Best Lake County Bred Steer awards. Freddie also helps prepare public speakers and is frequently called on to judge various competitions, such as parliamentary procedure and public speaking.
He is an active member and current Vice President of the local FFA Alumni chapter. Freddie has received the Honorary State FFA degree and the American FFA degree, and in his community he received the Rotary Four Way Test Award. Freddie was a founding member of the Florida FFA Foundation and served as director from 1972 to 1974. Freddie continues to enjoy hunting, fishing, and spending time with his wife Nancy. Their children Kevin, Danny, Mike, and Kristi were heavily involved in FFA while growing up.
Fred Garner was inducted into the Florida FFA Hall of Fame September 13, 2008.