Recipients have been farmers who have been actively involved in statewide agricultural organizations and provided leadership in a variety of ways. Recipients have also included agribusiness people who have worked to change the industry through advanced marketing plans or business management tools for the industry. Lastly, recipients include career employees who have been extraordinary in moving the industry forward. The award is presented to the winner at the Society's Annual Gala each spring.
2013 Award Winner
William Griffin - W.V.Griffin Nurseries
Some of William V. (Bill) Griffin’s earliest memories are of being at the family nursery with his father, Willets. V. Griffin and of spending time on his grandparents’ perennial farm in Monroe Township, where the Griffin Pansy was developed. Bill also fondly recalls summers in Mississippi on his grandparents’ dairy farm. Agriculture was truly in his blood. It’s no wonder he started selling Christmas trees as soon as he was old enough to make change.
Bill grew up in East Brunswick where he was active in sports and the Boy Scouts learning about service, leadership and working with others to achieve a common goal, eventually earning the rank of Eagle Scout in 1966. The following year he graduated from East Brunswick High School and headed to Louisiana State University. While at LSU, he was initiated into the Acacia Fraternity and served on their executive council for two years, developing additional leadership skills and making lifelong friends. In 1972, he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture, a degree which was closely related to his family’s nursery business and agriculture in general.
Upon returning to New Jersey after graduation, he became a second-generation nurseryman after becoming a partner in the family business, W V Griffin Nurseries which had been founded in 1932. He remained partners with his father for 27 years and now serves as the President of the operation.
Wanting to become actively involved in the larger agricultural community, Mr. Griffin began attending Middlesex County Board of Agriculture meetings where he eventually served as Vice President, from 1980-1982 and again in 2009, and President from 1983-1985 and again from 2011-2013.
Bill Griffin has served many agricultural organizations both as a member and in leadership roles. Bill served as a Middlesex County Fair Trustee for seven years, and was either Vice President or Secretary for the Middlesex County Agricultural Development Board every year from 1984 to the present. Mr. Griffin also became a presence on the state-wide agriculture scene with several other organizations including Rutgers University – Cook College, Agricultural Experiment Station Board of Managers from 1992-1997, serving two years as President and he was a member of the College’s Executive Dean Search Committee. Bill was also Central Chapter Vice Chairman and a State Board Director for the New Jersey Nursery Association, now known as the New Jersey Nursery & Landscape Association (NJNLA).
Bill Griffin was honored when he was elected to the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture in 2004, serving for four years, including one as President in 2008. It was in during his presidency that then Governor Corzine tried to eliminate the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Mr. Griffin led the efforts of the State Board in conjunction with New Jersey Farm Bureau including several meetings with legislators and culminated in a Farm Bureau coordinated tractor rally in Trenton with farmers and citizens from all over the state, all of which led to the Governor backing down and withdrawing his proposal to eliminate the Department of Agriculture.
“Bill has selflessly devoted countless hours over the years to his industry, and to the many agricultural organizations on which he has served. He always brings his good judgment, integrity sense of fairness, and leadership talents to the table. All of these traits were exhibited when, as State Board President, he successfully led the fight to keep the Department of Agriculture from being abolished. Congratulations Bill on this very well deserved honor!” - Bill Randolph, Horticulturalist, Former State Board Member and Friend
Bill lives in Plainsboro with his wife of 40 years, Cathy Boudreaux Griffin, whom he met at college in Louisiana. He remains an avid LSU Tigers football fan (Geaux Tigers!) and, in his limited spare time, enjoys skiing, SCUBA diving, traveling and renovating a 250-year old farmhouse and furnishing it with a collection of favorite antiques and watercolor paintings.
Bill has been a Trustee of the New Jersey Agricultural Society from 2008 until the present and served as that board’s President from 2010-2012 and he’s been a Director of the NJ Christmas Tree Growers Association since 2009
Past Gold Medallion Recipients