Compiled by Michelle Colesanti,

HCC Fire Academy training recruits to respond to fire emergencies

The Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Fire Academy is training local men and women to assist in fire emergencies such as the recent Bay area brush fires. The HCC Fire Academy is home to 150 students who are being trained as first responders to serve Bay area families when they need them the most.

There are thousands of certified firefighters in Hillsborough and the five surrounding counties, and that number grows exponentially when you factor in the number of firefighters across the state. At any given moment, there are a number of openings for new firefighters – meaning a pool of available certified firefighters must be ready and maintained at all times. We are training men and women to answer that call.

When students graduate from the Fire Academy, they are certified in the Division of Forestry classes which allows them to assist in situations like the recent brush fires immediately upon being hired by a department.

The HCC Fire Academy has served the west central Florida area since the early 1970s by providing highly skilled firefighters to the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County and other surrounding municipalities.

Hillsborough Community College serves over 45,000 students annually at its five campuses located throughout Tampa Bay. The college is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. For more information, visit

Hillsborough County Fair Seeking Applicants For Harvest Awards

The Hillsborough County Fair is seeking nominations for this year’s Harvest Awards which will kick off the 2017 County Fair on Thursday, October 19 in the new air-conditioned fairgrounds pavilion east of Brandon on Hwy. 60 and Sydney Washer Rd. This is the 17th year the awards have been presented to the outstanding Farm Family and the Lifetime Achievement recipients for outstanding accomplishments and contributions in the field of agriculture in Hillsborough County.

Other categories include Outstanding Agribusiness, Outstanding Public & Community Service, Urban Agriculture/Agriculturist, Young Farmer/Rancher/Nurseryman who are 40 and under, and Outstanding Woman in Agriculture. A posthumous category is also available to honor an individual no longer living. A total of five awards will be given during the luncheon in October.

Receiving last year’s awards were the Roy Davis family, Tony Ippolito, Susan Dumke, Wish Farms, Lee and Mini Holcomb, and the Hillsborough County 4-H Foundation. Saturday, July 1 is the submission deadline for nominations. Nomination forms are available at the County Extension Office, the Farm Bureau Office, Soil Conservation Office, Strawberry Growers Assoc. Office, and at

Forms can be submitted by email:, or mailed to: Harvest Awards, % Hillsborough County Fair, P.O. Box 100, Sydney, FL 33587. Call 737-3247.

Hillsborough Aims To Feed More Hungry Kids This Summer

Hunger doesn’t take the summer off. Neither do efforts to get food to the children who need it.

Hillsborough County is once again participating in the Summer Food Service Program, which provides free nutritious lunches and afternoon snacks to children at more than 50 sites throughout the county. In an effort to make sure no child goes without a meal, this year’s program has been lengthened by eight days, from Tuesday, May 30 to Friday, August 4.

The Summer Food Service Program will provide a balanced meal during summer vacation when school meals are not available. The meals and snacks will be offered at local parks and other community locations to children under 18. Applications are not required. Nearby approved sites can be found online, or for more information, email or call 276-8625.

The Summer Food Service program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered locally by Hillsborough County’s Aging Services. The department has expanded its “More than a Meal’’ concept to the summer program and, along with the food, will provide fun and interactive nutrition education to promote healthy eating and lifestyle choices.

Also new this year: More “grab and go” meals that are ready to eat but also healthy.

County Parks Offer Summer Camps For Kids

Want to keep your kids engaged and active over their summer break? Let them try archery. Or play basketball. Or work on interesting, challenging craft projects. All those activities are available at Hillsborough County’s popular summer camps for children.

Open registration for the camps has begun. Camps are offered for kids ages 6-12, and from 12-15, and adaptive recreation for ages 5-22. The camps are open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday from June 5-August 4.

Children can learn, play, and grow in a safe and supervised environment as they explore new places and activities with their peers. The camps offer arts and crafts, sports, and other recreational activities to keep kids entertained and physically active.

Rates for a two-week session are $76, or $60 with a reduced lunch letter, and $40 with a free lunch letter. For more information, visit 

Parents are encouraged to register early as some camps fill up quickly.

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Michelle Colesanti
Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.