(May 7, 5:42 p.m.) The Florida Strawberry Growers Association is searching for another executive director. It has formally ended its relationship with former director Shawn Crocker.

In early May, the association started a national executive director search. Crocker resigned April 18, the last day of his 60-day administrative leave and the official termination of his contract with the association, said Allen Williford, the association’s president.

The association’s board of directors in mid-February placed Crocker on paid leave while it worked with its lawyer on the legal issues surrounding Crocker’s dismissal.

Williford declined to discuss Crocker’s situation or what caused his termination.

A Plant City native who began working as the association’s head in February 2007, Crocker said terms of his separation agreement forbid either side from publicly discussing the case.

Crocker, who had previously worked as director of procurement and field operations for Cargill Juice North America in Frostproof, Fla., and had been president of the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau, said he planned to return to production agriculture in Live Oak, Fla., growing row crops and pine trees.

Crocker was only the association’s second director after the board in November 2006 dismissed Chip Hinton, the group’s longtime leader who headed the organization for 24 years.

Williford said the association’s board members plan to conduct a comprehensive search for a successor. He said he expects to have a new director in place by August.

“The last time we hired someone, it was in midseason,” Williford said. “We’re not in a hurry this time because we’re in an off-season time period. We have that luxury (of time) now.”

Florida’s strawberry production normally ends by early April.

The application deadline for the position is May 30.

Florida strawberry group dismisses its director
Shawn Crocker