Tallahassee, FL 

Veterans Florida, a non-profit created by the State of Florida to help military veterans transition to civilian life and to promote Florida’s status as the nation’s most veteran-friendly state, has received a three-year, $745,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture to fund the Veterans Florida Agriculture Program in partnership with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

“Florida is proud to be the most veteran-friendly state in the nation and we are committed to working with organizations like Veterans Florida to connect former military servicemembers with career training and job opportunities,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “As a veteran, I recognize the transition from a military background into the civilian workforce can be challenging. This six-month program through UF/IFAS will help prepare veterans for careers in Florida’s prominent agriculture industry and work to match them with quality jobs. We will never stop working to support those who have worn the uniform to defend our freedoms.”

The Veterans Florida Agriculture Program is another example of Florida leading the nation in offering veterans sustainable career opportunities as they transition into civilian life,” said Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs Deputy Executive Director James S. “Hammer” Hartsell. “Florida’s commitment to veterans is second to none and this program embodies that.”

“Creating career paths for veterans and a talent pipeline for the agriculture industry is a win-win for Florida,” said Veterans Florida Executive Director Joe Marino. “Veterans Florida is excited to continue our Agriculture Program with our partners at UF/IFAS and provide more veterans with the experience and network to succeed in Florida’s second-largest economic sector.”

“Veterans thrive in agriculture and UF/IFAS looks forward to working with Veterans Florida in this unique program to build the next generation of Florida’s agriculture leaders,” said Dr. Gary Vallad, Associate Professor of Plant Pathology at UF/IFAS.  The program is a six-month paid fellowship designed to provide veterans hands-on experience in agriculture in order to transition into careers in the industry, and participants will work at UF/IFAS Research & Education Facilities, then be matched with a career at an agribusiness or working farm or ranch.

The Veterans Florida Agriculture Program began as a pilot program in 2018, and all participants received full-time job offers upon completion. The program won the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council’s 2019 Economy and Energy Award that recognizes projects that promote economic vitality and workforce development while benefiting the community.

This work is supported by the Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Program, grant no. 2020-77028-32885/project accession no. 1024077, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and should not be construed to represent any official USDA or U.S. Government determination or policy.