If you’ve seen images of strawberry farmers spraying down their crops to protect them against a freeze, you know agriculture is big business in Hillsborough County.
It’s an industry that worth $1 billion a year in crops, livestock and ancillary products and services, according to Simon Bollin, the county’s agribusiness development manager.
It’s also an industry that employs about 20,000, said Bollin, and needs people who are self-starting problem-solvers and like to work outdoors.
"The skills needed are very similar to skills in the military," Bollin said. "Self-starters, problem solving ability, working until the task is complete, mechanical ability, and working outdoors."
Careers in agriculture involve more than just driving a tractor, he said — though tractor driving skills do help. There are field, maintenance, irrigation, safety, and production managers, human resources, logistics, and executive-level positions.
"The thing to keep in mind is that when working in production agriculture, every day is different and you may start out the day as VP of operations and finish the day in the seat of a tractor with all of the jobs mentioned previously intertwined throughout the day," he said.
So with that in mind, Bollin has created the Military Agriculture Tour, a program designed to give military veterans, reservists, transitioning active-duty personnel and their spouses an opportunity to explore career options in the agriculture industry.
The first tour took place in 2016. The latest, which will be the fourth, kicks off at 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 19, from Hillsborough County Extension Service, 5339 County Road 579 in Seffner.
"Today’s agriculture industries increasingly focus on using technology and management systems for the production of food, medicine, consumer products, and energy," Bollin said.
Those on the tour will learn about career paths and job opportunities in agriculture and supporting industries through visits to a variety of farming operations and the University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in southern Hillsborough County. "
The tour is organized through a partnership between Hillsborough County Economic Development, Hillsborough County Farm Bureau, Hillsborough County Extension Service, and community partners committed to assisting transitioning veterans by providing meaningful connections to quality civilian career opportunities and training.
The tour is free and lunch will be provided, but seating is limited and the deadline to register is Jan. 16.
More information on Military Agriculture Tour community partners and career resources for transitioning veterans is available at HCFLGov.net/Vets2Ag.
The Pentagon this week announced the first death of a U.S. service member in 2018.
Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin, 34, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, died Jan. 1 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, after being engaged by enemy small arms fire while on a dismounted patrol. Golin was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson, Colorado. The incident is under investigation.
There have been 2,347 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; 49 U.S. troop deaths and one civilian Department of Defense employee death in support of the followup, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan; 42 troop deaths and two civilian deaths in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the fight against the Islamic State; one troop death in support of Operation Odyssey Lightning, the fight against Islamic State in Libya; one death classified as other contingency operations in the global war on terrorism; and four deaths in ongoing operations in Africa where, if they have a title, officials will not divulge it.
Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman