FVC Hosts First Veteran Career Fair at CSU Fresno

Agriculturally focused veterans and more than 20 employers from the public and private sector came together April 19 at the Farmer Veteran Coalition Veteran Career Fair held at California State University, Fresno, to introduce veterans to career opportunities throughout California’s $47 billion agricultural industry.

“California produces most of our fruits and vegetables: 99 percent of artichokes, 99 percent of walnuts, 97 percent of kiwis, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of celery, 95 percent of garlic, 89 percent of cauliflower, 71 percent of spinach, 69 percent of carrots, and the list goes on,” said FVC Program and Development Manager Randy Ryan, who coordinated the event.

United States Department of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, AgrAbility and Food Commons Fresno, were among the employers who met with veterans to educate them on career paths within their organization as well as how their services can assist those who are seeking self-employment by starting their own farming operation.

“We met a lot of veterans at our Career Fair–some who grew up around farms and others who were brand new to it–that will be great assets to our agricultural industry,” said FVC Executive Director Michael O’Gorman. “They’re able to combine Ag degrees and tech savvy with the work ethic and determination they got through their military service.”

One such employer, Farm Credit, was on hand to discuss their open positions while also providing information about the various types of loans available to veterans who are seeking capital to start their own farm.

Veterans who attended the career fair represented a wide-range of service eras and goals for their farming careers. Vietnam-era Army veteran Derek Robinson came to the event to learn about services available to him for his farming operation. Robinson, a Madera City Councilmember, wasn’t previously familiar with FVC, but is looking forward to becoming Homegrown By Heroes certified and applying for a Farmer Veteran Fellowship in the future.

For attendee Neil Morgan, who served two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a member of the Coast Guard, the career fair was an opportunity to see what kind of employment opportunities might be on the horizon after finishing his degree in mechanical engineering at Fresno State.

“I like to keep abreast of what’s going on in the ag employment world,” said Morgan. “Mechanical engineering touches the agricultural industry in a number of areas, so I wanted to see what opportunities might be available to me when I graduate.”