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Fred J. Bohde

Distinguished Alumnus December 2014

fred bohdeFred J. Bohde is a citriculturist, consulting with citrus growers and grove caretakers in Central Florida. A Bartow native, he also has the distinction of being the very first graduate of Polk State College.

After graduating from the Summerlin Institute in 1959, Fred attended St. Petersburg Junior College before eventually transferring to Polk State to be closer to family. Although he was awarded his Associate in Arts degree on June 7, 1965, the first graduation ceremony was held on June 1, 1966.

After graduating from Polk, Fred served nine years with the United States Army Reserve. He achieved the rank of Captain and received an Honorable Discharge in 1972.

Fred worked as a Fire Insurance Underwriter for State Farm for several years. With a family history in the citrus industry, Fred left State Farm to work for a local citrus consultant. With his employer’s encouragement, Fred started taking classes at Florida Southern College, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Citrus in 1974.

After graduation, Fred took a position as a fertilizer sales representative for International Minerals and Chemical Corporation (IMC Fertilizer, Inc.). He spent the next 22 years working at IMC, rising to management. Though he loved his managerial work, he always missed the freedom and opportunity he felt when working outdoors as a sales representative. After retiring from IMC in 1996, Fred started his own citrus consulting firm.

As a citriculturist, Fred advises growers and grove caretakers on various methods to manage groves across a wide expanse of Central Florida. For the past eight years, the biggest challenge in his industry has been battling citrus greening, a bacterial disease spread through insects that affects the quality of fruit and eventually kills the tree.

Fred is active in professional societies, including the American Society of Agronomy. He holds designations as a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) and Certified Professional Agronomist (CPAg). Within the Bartow community, Fred has been a member of the Bartow Kiwanis Club since 1966, serving as past president and past District Lieutenant Governor. He has also served as president of the Greater Bartow Chamber of Commerce.

Fred lives in Bartow with his wife of 47 years, Sylvia. Their three sons – Bill, Greg, and John— are all graduates of Polk State. Fred’s grandson, Houston, is a freshman at Polk, marking the third generation of the Bohde family to attend the College.