Fifth-generation Florida farmer Lisa Hinton broke new ground time and again throughout her life to improve ag opportunities for the next generation, paving the way with her pioneering efforts. In 2015, this earned her the title of Florida’s Woman of the Year in Agriculture for 2015.
The story of one of Florida’s most prominent and inspirational agricultural women begins in Trilby, located in central Florida, where Lisa Tomkow Hinton grew up on her family’s seed harvesting and cattle farm. She helped run the combine and also sewed her way to top awards in 4-H. And when FFA, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, finally opened its membership to women in 1970, Hinton joined.
She went on to campaign her way to become the first female state FFA officer in Florida’s FFA history. With this, Hinton paved the way for future young women, as she represented one of the first four females to earn FFA’s highest degree, the American Farmer Degree.
After graduating from the University of Florida, Hinton taught agriculture. At a position in a local high school, she led students in a project to design a petting zoo for the Florida State Fair. Her impressive performance led to a job offer and her longtime role as director of agribusiness for the Florida State Fair. It was in this role that she developed educational programs for children over the next 24 years.
Among her most praised work, Hinton revolutionized the philosophy of livestock shows to “raise champion kids, not champion animals.” Under her guidance, livestock competitions, such as the Champion of Champions and the Steer Futurity, shifted focus from animals to youth knowledge and acquired skill sets for raising an animal.
Additionally, Hinton helped develop the AgVenture program, which teaches third-graders about agriculture. She worked diligently to put agriculture at the forefront of fair activities for millions of annual visitors to Florida’s fairs. After Hinton’s 2006 retirement from the Florida State Fair, she became executive director of the Florida Federation of Fairs, which includes 52 agricultural fairs in the state. In 2015, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Florida State Fair Authority named Hinton the Woman of the Year in Agriculture, an award that has recognized women’s outstanding contributions to Florida agriculture since 1985. It recognizes Hinton’s dedication to advancing Florida agriculture and ag youth programs.