The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given a three-year, $745,000 grant to the group Veterans Florida to help fund an agriculture education program.
Veterans Florida is a non-profit created by the state to help military veterans transition to civilian life. The program being funded by the grant, Veterans Florida Agriculture Program, is in partnership with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“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 service members with career training and job opportunities,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a news release.
The program is a six-month paid fellowship designed to provide veterans hands-on experience in agriculture. The goal of the program is to help veterans transition into careers in the industry.
“As a veteran, I recognize the transition from a military background into the civilian workforce can be challenging,” DeSantis said. “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.”
Participants in the program will work at UF/IFAS Research & Education Facilities, and then be matched with a career at an agribusiness, farm or ranch.
“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,” Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs deputy executive director James Hartsell said in the news release. “Florida’s commitment to veterans is second to none and this program embodies that.”
The Veterans Florida Agriculture Program began as a pilot program in 2018, and all participants received full-time job offers upon completion. The program also won the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council’s 2019 Economy and Energy Award.
“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 in the news release. “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.”