Kenneth Parker, the new FSGA Executive Director is a natural fit to lead strawberry growers in new goals.
After working out of the front of his truck and spending much of the last 20 years in the area’s strawberry fields, Kenneth Parker, the new Executive Director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, is still getting used to sitting behind a desk and office air conditioning!
Kenneth, a Plant City native, began his new job in July after being hired in a unanimous vote of the FSGA board. He’s the perfect fit for the job, having lifelong relationships with many of the growers and helping them maximize their yields as a certified crop adviser in his previous position with Chemical Dynamics.
In his new position, Kenneth also oversees two related organizations: The Florida Strawberry Patent Service Corp., which licenses the use of new varieties of Florida strawberries, and the Florida Strawberry Research and Education Foundation, which supports the development of new varieties and other grower-related research at the University of Florida.
Being outside and visiting with growers always beats sitting behind his desk sending emails, according to Kenneth. “I want to be out making sure that the association is a value-added part of their business,” he said. “The only way to know is to go out and ask them.
Kenneth will also tell you that he favors the old-fashioned way of communicating over today’s impersonal texts and tweets, so you’re more likely to get a personal visit or phone call from him. “You need to hear someone’s voice inflection and tone when they’re speaking to really be able to effectively communicate,” he said.
As Executive Director, Kenneth will focus on “the many moving parts” that make up the state’s strawberry industry, including the patenting and licensing of new strawberry varieties, channeling royalties to ensure continued research and enhancing marketing efforts of the unique crop that is Florida winter strawberries.
When it comes to reaching his goals for the FSGA, Kenneth is quick to commend and recognize the staff for taking on more responsibilities, allowing the organization to best serve the growers and ensure the future growth of both crops and consumers.
This lifelong resident of Hillsborough County has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and citrus from Florida Southern College. He is an associate director of the Florida Strawberry Festival and serves as superintendent of the steer committee. He also serves on the board of the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau, is an associate board member of the Florida FFA Foundation, and on the Hillsborough County strawberry and vegetable advisory committee.
Kenneth also enjoys ranching and is a member of the Florida Cattleman’s Association. He is a partner at the South Prong Ranch, a commercial cow, calf and hay operation, near the Welcome community in Lithia, Fla.
This sixth generation Floridian is committed to agricultural education and enjoys helping FFA and 4-H members with their livestock and crop projects. He knows these young people are the leaders of the future and they represent what is right with America. Kenneth is convinced their projects help build excellent character, sound work ethic, and personal responsibility.
Kenneth is married to his high school sweetheart Dee, and they have two children, Jerrod and Calli Jo. Jerrod is married to Summer Norris Parker and serves as a crop adviser for Chemical Dynamics. Calli Jo is married to James Baker and is a teacher at Knights Elementary. Kenneth is a deacon and Sunday school teacher at Welcome Baptist Church in Lithia.