The second Veterans 4 Ag Summit will have a heavy focus on forestry, along with row-crop and livestock agriculture, according to the event’s organizers.
Set for 9 a.m. on Feb. 22 at the John F. Gibson University Center at the UA-Monticello campus, the summit will offer panel discussions and speakers that will help prepare military veterans for potential careers in the agriculture field, while educating them about employment opportunities that surround the agriculture industry, Arkansas’ largest business sector. The combined impact from Arkansas agriculture is more than $20 billion annually, with roughly 1 in 6 jobs in the state connected to agriculture.
“Veterans have, are, and will be engaged in all aspects of our Arkansas economy,” said Col. Nate Todd, director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs. “Veterans come from a problem-solving culture of our military. Veterans are self-disciplined, they are self-starters and early risers. It sounds to me like they are good candidates for the farming and forestry profession.”
Arkansas Sec. of Agriculture Wes Ward sees strong opportunities for veterans in agriculture.
“Arkansas has a large and highly trained veteran population, with skills that are well suited for careers in agriculture,” said Ward, himself a Marine veteran. “This summit will focus primarily on the forestry sector. We are proud to have more than 19 million acres of forestland in Arkansas which has an economic impact of $6.3 billion and provides for more than 28,000 jobs. Forestry is a significant and growing aspect of our state’s agriculture industry and we are looking forward to making veterans aware of available resources and career opportunities in this field.”
The UAM School of Forestry & Natural Resources is nationally recognized, and includes the University of Arkansas Forestry Resource Center, which provides an umbrella for activities in forest-based natural resources research and extension.
“We are excited to bring a Veterans 4 Ag Summit to southeast Arkansas,” said Randy Veach, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau. “Our first summit in Jonesboro was well received, and we expect the focus on the forestry industry will be of great interest for this session. We are proud to be part of something that highlights opportunities in agriculture for our military veterans.”
The Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, the Arkansas Agriculture Department and Arkansas Farm Bureau are jointly organizing the Veterans 4 Ag Summit. A showcase of agriculture and veteran’s organizations will provide attendees with networking opportunities and the chance to speak to industry partners one-on-one.
“South Arkansas has great veterans working and going to school that will do well in the agriculture, forestry and in business,” said Todd. “All things that concern Arkansas veterans should involve Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Todd, a retired Army colonel from Pine Bluff.