The second Veterans 4 Ag Summit held recently at the University of Arkansas at Monticello focused on opportunities for military veterans in the forest industry.

“Timber harvesting (also known as logging), forest product trucking, forestry fieldwork, and forest product manufacturing were identified among other career paths for military veterans who often have skill sets that align with these positions,” according to a news release.

Veterans 4 Ag Summit events are a partnership between the Arkansas Agriculture Department, the Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs and Arkansas Farm Bureau.

Larry Boccarossa, a retired U.S. Army colonel and executive director of the Arkansas Timber Producers Association, was the luncheon speaker.

“Veterans serve our nation selflessly and with a sense of purpose,” Boccarossa said. “They bring characteristics to the workforce that are desired of all employees such as discipline, resilience, agility and loyalty. Every veteran, regardless of rank or length of service, has experience in leading teams, managing multiple complex projects and delivering the results expected of them.”

Attendees also discussed opportunities at the Arkansas Agriculture Department’s Forestry Commission and the U.S. Forest Service, which actively seek people with skills in heavy equipment operation, mechanics, truck driving, firefighting, surveying and radio communications.

“Agriculture is our state’s largest industry and contributes over $20 billion to our economy each year. Arkansas has a total population of approximately 3 million people and a veteran population of approximately 250,000, meaning that 1 out of every 12 people in our state are veterans. Veterans are an important part of our economy and will continue to play an important role in our state,” according to the release.

Max Braswell is executive vice president of the Arkansas Forestry Association.

“If the timber and forest products industry is to continue as one of Arkansas’ leading economic contributors at over $6.3 billion annually, it’s imperative that we attract talented, dedicated employees,” Braswell said. “Having great people on your team is the key to success and the qualities veterans have certainly fits the bill.”

Military veterans looking for opportunities within the forestry industry should contact the Arkansas Forestry Commission, Arkansas Forestry Association, Arkansas Timber Producers Association, U.S. Forest Service, or the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Veterans interested in promoting agricultural products may contact Arkansas Homegrown by Heroes program.