By Tamas Mondovics
While local officials joined thousands of celebrations nationwide, and arranged to take time out to say thanks to current and former members of the United States armed forces on Veterans Day earlier this month, plans to support local vets now looking to transition into civilian life was in the making.
Hillsborough County has the fourth largest veteran population in Florida boasting of nearly 100,000.
In an effort to provide support, County officials have scheduled a free bus tour of local Hillsborough County farms to provide military veterans, reservists, transitioning active-duty personnel, and their spouses an opportunity to explore career options available in the agriculture industry. This month’s Military Agriculture Tour was scheduled to begin at the Hillsborough County Extension Services at 5339 C.R. 579 in Seffner on Friday, November 20.
“Today’s agriculture fields increasingly focus on using technology and management systems for the production of food, medicine, consumer products, and energy,” said County Agribusiness Development Manager Simon Bollin, adding that during the tour, veterans and transitioning military personnel will be introduced to career paths and job opportunities within modern agriculture operations and supporting industries.
The tour is organized through a partnership between Hillsborough County Economic Development, Hillsborough County Farm Bureau, and community partners committed to assisting transitioning veterans by providing connections to quality civilian career opportunities and training.
The tour will visit a variety of farming operations, and the University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in southern Hillsborough County.
In May, local vets had a chance to visit such facilities as Fancy Farms vegetable farm, Harrell’s Nursery, Oak Ridge Fish Hatchery and Keel & Curley Winery to meet with local farmers.
At each stop local officials and participating business owners highlighted the diversity of agricultural operations in Hillsborough County. More information is available at HillsboroughCounty.org/ Vets2Ag. Pre-registration at www.even tbrite.com/e/military-agriculture-tour-tickets-19223128896 is required. Seating is limited. Lunch will be provided. For more information, contact 276-2735 or bollins@HillsboroughCounty.org.