Summit brings vets face-to-face with agricultural opportunities

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A summit at Arkansas State University Friday hoped to connect veterans with the agriculture industry.

The Veterans 4 Ag Summit was held at the Cooper Alumni Center on the campus of Arkansas State University.

It came together through a partnership with the Arkansas State University College of Agriculture, Engineering, and Technology, the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, the Arkansas Agriculture Department, and Arkansas Farm Bureau.

Timothy Burcham, dean of the College of Agriculture, Engineering, and Technology, said the summit was all about showing veterans what is out there.

"An opportunity for our veterans to understand about the opportunities that are in agriculture, and there are such a great amount of opportunities there that range from [agriculture] business to plant science, all the new technologies with UAV's," Burcham said.

Burcham worked closely with Nate Todd, director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, to bring the veterans in contact with industry leaders, an industry both think is a great fit for veterans.

"When you mesh that with the built-in qualities that all of our veterans have for being on time, having leadership skills, Mr. Todd, those are the kinds of things that employers here today are really going to be excited about," Burcham said.

"They are early risers, tenacity, as the dean was chatting about, the ability to get things done so this is a great opportunity for veterans and for farming," Todd said.

Panels included "How to get started", "Arkansas Agriculture", and Damon Helton as the lunch speaker.

Burcham said the summit helps veterans learn more about education options at 2 and 4-year universities as well as agriculture vendors and companies.

"Our location in the delta and then when you look at agriculture in the state of Arkansas, not just the delta, one in six jobs are from agriculture," Burcham said.

Congressman Rick Crawford, representing Arkansas's First District, attended the summit and spoke on his efforts to push agriculture issues through Washington which he said can be easily dismissed but still extremely important.

"Here in the United States we enjoy the cheapest, safest, abundant food supply in the world," Crawford said in his speech.

He spoke on his involvement with the agriculture industry and encouraged veterans to see the opportunities out there.

"Don't let the fact that you don't have access to land deter you from being able to participate in agriculture," Crawford said.

Crawford sympathized that he knows it can be hard to transition from being in the armed forces to civilian life, and Todd said he feels agriculture could help in that transition.

"They come home and agriculture is a great fit for their skills and for the independency that a farmer has," Todd said.

Todd said veterans from all over the state attended Friday's summit.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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