Harold “Ray” Clark
Harold Ray Clark was born on October 18, 1949 in Plant City and grew up on a farm that produced bell peppers, strawberries, citrus, and cattle. He graduated from Kathleen High School in 1967 and attended Polk Junior College for two years before continuing on to the University of Florida and earning his bachelor's degree in Agriculture in 1972. Ray was immediately offered the post of agriculture teacher at Plant City High School, a job he was to perform impeccably for 36 years until his retirement in 2008. One of his jobs, of course, was as advisor of the FFA chapter, and under his leadership the Plant City High School FFA Chapter became known as one of the best FFA chapters in the State of Florida.
His parliamentary procedure team consistently placed in the top three in the state, and many of his other teams also won state contests. Ray trained 16 state FFA officers, including two presidents, and one of his five national officers held the highest post as president. Ray's reputation as an educator and FFA advisor became so great that middle school students who saw him at all of the FFA functions couldn't wait to get to high school so that they could be in his classes. In 1988 Ray was named as department head and became responsible for managing an agriculture program with eight agriculture teachers. Despite the periodic budget cuts and other challenges, he continued to get things done and produce outstanding students to help shape a strong and prosperous future for Florida agriculture.
Ray has also been a leader in many professional and community organizations. He was president of the Hillsborough County Agriculture Teachers Association in 1982-83 and president of the Agriculture Teachers Owls Club in 1985-86. He held many positions with the Polk County Fair, the Florida State Fair, and the Florida Strawberry Festival, and continues to be active in these events. For all his service and many accomplishments, Mr. Clark has been honored with many awards, including the Honorary State FFA Degree and the Honorary American FFA Degree, Plant City Ag Educator of the Year, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hillsborough County Fair. Ray was a frequent recipient of the Teacher of Teachers Award and has more than 30 former students teaching agriculture. He is a proud member of Florida FFA Alumni and the University of Florida Alumni Association.
These days Ray is enjoying his retirement and spending time with his wife Phyllis, his son and daughter, and his three grandchildren. He also likes to do a little hunting and fishing when he's not managing his cattle and citrus operation or doing work in the community with FFA, 4-H, fairs, the Strawberry Festival, and his church. He continues to be a tireless promoter of agricultural education and FFA.