James Edward “Jim” Jeffries (shown here on left with John Hoblick, Florida Farm Bureau Federation presenting his award) was born on August 25, 1946 in Lakeland, where he was raised on a 20-acre cattle and vegetable farm. He attended Lakeland High School, where he served as the secretary of his FFA chapter. He then majored in citrus culture at Polk Community College, before transferring to the University of Florida for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
As an agriculture teacher, Jim was instrumental in building agriculture programs that became nationally recognized, guiding middle school and high school programs to prominence. Jim’s contributions to agricultural education began as a vocational agriculture teacher at Pinecrest High School in 1969. He later moved to East Bay High School from 1970-79, serving as the department chair for his last four years there. Jim moved to Plant City to be closer to home. After nine years at Plant City High School, Jim was asked to serve as the supervisor of agribusiness and natural resources education for the Hillsborough County School District, where he served for two decades.
Jim served as a member and officer of the Florida FFA Board of Directors, as a member of the Florida Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee, and as a supporter of the Florida FFA Leadership Training Center. He is a life member of the Florida FFA Alumni Association.
Jim’s accomplishments include time spent as an officer or member of various professional or civic organizations. He has served as the president of the Hillsborough County FFA Federation, the Kiwanis Club of Plant City, and the Florida Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association. He was recently elected to serve as the president of the Florida Strawberry Festival. Before retiring in 2008, Jim had accumulated an abundance of awards, including the prestigious Plant City Chamber of Commerce Ag Educator of the Year Award, Hillsborough County’s Outstanding Administrator Award, honorary state and American FFA Degrees, and the Hillsborough County Extension Service Volunteer Award.
In 1972, Jim married Robyn Garrels. They have two daughters, Dawn and Ginger, and six grandchildren.