Wilton Simpson names 8 to Florida State Fair Authority Board

florida state fair
Appointees include Charlie Lykes and former Rep. Jake Raburn.

Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson announced eight appointments to the Florida State Fair Authority Board.

“I am proud to appoint the newest members to the Board of Directors of the Florida State Fair Authority today,” Simpson said in a news release. “The Authority Board does a tremendous job of creating positive entertainment experiences throughout Florida, and I am confident that these new members will make a meaningful impact on our state through their commitment to agriculture, education, and community service.”

Archie Collins, Reggie Holt, Charles “Charlie” Lykes, Chad Lyons, Jake Raburn, Dr. Cindy Sanders, Ted Schrader and Robert Thomas will serve on the panel tasked with administrating various events held at the Florida State Fairgrounds including the annual Florida State Fair.

The Board has 22 members, all appointed to four-year terms by the Agriculture Commissioner.

Collins is the President and CEO of Tampa Electric and has more than 30 years of experience in the energy industry. He has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from St. Francis Xavier University and a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Dalhousie University. He sits on the boards of the Florida Council of 100, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Tampa Bay Economic Development Council and Enterprise Florida. He also serves on the boards of The Association of Edison Illuminating Companies, Florida Reliability Coordinating Council and Tampa Theatre.

Holt has worked been at Farm Credit of Central Florida since 1982 and has served as CEO since 2008. He earned an MBA from Florida Southern College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from East Carolina University. He  He is also an active member of the Plant City Rotary Club. He and his wife Gaye have 4 children and 9 grandchildren.

Lykes is a Tampa native and worked for the family-owned Lykes Bros., retiring as President in 2019. In 2012, he helped establish the Landowner Coalition of Texas. He also served on the Board of Directors of Citrus World, which owns the Florida’s Natural Brand. Charlie was the President and CEO of Lykes Bros. He currently manages Highlands Ranch and Groves with cattle in Highlands County and a grapefruit grove under protective screen in Polk County.

Lyons is a fifth-generation agriculturist from Mayo and works as an agri-science teacher and FFA advisor at Lafayette High School. He and his family have built a successful show pig operation that includes ninety sows and focuses on serving the exhibitors of Florida, but continues to achieve national recognition. In addition to the swine industry, Chad also assists with the family’s cow/calf operation that has transitioned into focusing on producing competitive club calves. He serves on the North Florida Livestock Show Board, Suwannee Valley Youth Livestock Show Board, and the Florida State Fair Swine Committee.

Raburn is the CEO of Hinton Farms Produce, a grower, packer, and shipper of fresh Florida fruits and vegetables that specializes in strawberries. He currently serves as the President of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and he has worked in the agriculture industry for more than 15 years. He previously worked in marketing at the Florida Department of Citrus.

Raburn served three terms the state House, during which he was recognized with awards including the UF College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Outstanding Young Alumni Award (2014), Florida Farm Bureau Legislator of the Year (2014), Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association Legislator of the Year (2014), Florida Forestry Association Legislator of the Year (2015), Florida Nursery Growers & Landscapers Association Legislator of the Year (2016), and the UF IFAS Legislative Leader Award (2015).

Sanders is a sixth-generation agriculturist who works as a livestock extension agent at UF. She was born and raised in Polk County, Florida where her grandfather raised citrus and cattle. She was active in both 4-H and FFA. She graduated from the University of Florida with a doctorate in extension leadership and administration, a master’s degree in extension education, and a bachelor’s degree in animal science/agricultural education. As an undergraduate she served on the University of Florida’s Livestock Judging Team, and still judges livestock shows around the state today.

Schrader is a fourth-generation Floridian and Tampa resident with more than 30 years of public service experience, including 16 years as a member of the Pasco County Board of County Commissioners and 16 years as a Board Appointed Member to Tampa Bay Water, a regional water utility.

Thomas is the CEO of Two Rivers Ranch, Hickory Hills Land Company, Crystal Springs Preserve, and Balsam Gap. He is a third-generation Tampa native and a graduate of the University of Richmond. He is responsible for the management of more than 22,000 acres of low intensity agricultural operations in Florida and North Carolina. In the mid-1980s, Thomas gained his first major business experience helping supervise the sale of Port Sutton, the largest privately held deep water port in North America, to the Port of Tampa.

Staff Reports


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