In 1965, Kelly took a role with the Florida Department of Education in Tallahassee as executive secretary of the state’s FFA program in which he worked to motivate and train agriculture educators. He also developed a week-long state convention and helped establish the Florida FFA Foundation.
Four years later in 1969, Kelly became the executive assistant to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Doyle Conner, and he remained in this role until his retirement in 1991. In this position, he was responsible for maintaining communications with the legislature and committee staff on a year-round basis. He also helped develop the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ legislative programs, coordinated statewide agricultural fair programs, served as the department’s liaison to UF/IFAS and worked with department division directors to form agriculture policy.
He has worked with UF’s Department of Agricultural Education and Communication to fund and create scholarships for agriculture students. Since 2002, six new undergraduate scholarships were established totaling more than $120,000. He also has spent years active in Alpha Gamma Rho, the social and professional fraternity for agriculture students and directed the work of the alumni association and education foundation at UF.
Kelly played a key role in forming the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame and for 20 years served as the historian.
Over the years, Kelly has received many awards, including the Honorary American Farmer Degree (the highest accolade given by the FFA) and UF’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Alumnus of Distinction Award.
Kelly lives in Tallahassee with his wife. They have three grown children, three grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
Born in Evinston in 1938, Kay Richardson grew up on his family’s farm, Richardson Brothers Inc., which produced vegetables, field crops and citrus. In 1960 he earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Florida. From there, he spent four years in the Marines until he became an active partner in his family’s business, which was in the process of shifting production to beef cattle and citrus.
In the 1970s, Richardson became chief executive officer of Richardson Brothers and focused on improving cattle production. After the freezes of 1985, the company sold its citrus groves and shifted solely to beef cattle.