To Serve…and Protect!

I am sure that most of you have heard of the FBI, CIA, ATF, and County Sheriffs, but have you heard of the DACS LE? In July, my husband was hired with the Florida Highway Patrol. On a recent trip to Tallahassee to the main training campus, he met some of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Law Enforcement Officers. He was surprised by the diversity of operations and tasks that these specialty law enforcement officers have to deal with and perform on a daily basis. He was sharing some pretty neat stories about what they do, and it reminded me of my interactions with DACS officers.

When I served as a State FFA Officer for Florida, the officer team and I toured different sectors of Florida Agriculture. We were fortunate to meet the DACS officers located at the Inspection Station on Interstate 10. At the Inspection Station, trucks, carriers, trailers and the like, passed through for an inspection of their goods. At this particular Inspection Station that were utilizing a VACIS, or Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System.   It was literally a giant X-RAY machine. A vehicle would pass through the detector, and it would take images of the inside of the vehicle. The officer showed us photos of illegal immigrants hiding in wheel wells, inside the walls of the truck, even inside large feed barrels. After being introduced to the VACIS and the technology the DACS officer utilize to keep us safe, we then met some of their best officers – the K-9 dogs. These dogs were trained to smell citrus, food products, animals/creatures, and people! Unlike a city or county K-9 unit, these dogs were equipped and trained to deal with the specific needs of the agriculture department.

According to the Florida Ag law web site,  “These Department officers support and supplement all of the Department’s regulatory and law enforcement programs by conducting inspections of highway shipments of agricultural, horticultural, aquacultural and livestock commodities. These regulations and programs ensure compliance with Federal and State Marketing Agreements and various laws, rules and regulations implemented to provide the consuming public a quality food product and/or prevent, control and eradicate specific plant and animal pests and diseases which could economically devastate segments of Florida’s agricultural industry. As Florida’s second largest state industry, agriculture has        an economic impact of $100 billion annually” (

It is amazing to know that our state and country will hire people to secure and safeguard our Agriculture industry!  Thank a Farmer for the food and thank a DACS officer for keeping it- and us- safe!


Positive Agriculture News

This story was posted in February 2012, but I wanted to provide the link to you. I enjoy finding articles that cover agriculture in a positive light- informing consumers of the people and careers behind the scenes. A few of the spotlight individuals are from UF!

Class: This blog site is a great example of variety, humor, and facts, making for a great read!

DIY Designs

Location, Location, Location.
Here in Florida, I think most of us can agree that it feels like summer 9-10 months out of the year. The other 2-3 months, we complain about how it’s too cold…

Sweet Memories.
Anyways, I can always remember in P.E. at school or when I started working for the family nursery many years ago, drinking water was always stressed. We always took water breaks or went inside to cool down. I never realized how important keeping hydrated really was while being outside for extended amounts of time.

Forget About Forgetting It.
When I went back to work for MAD Plants, I work mainly on my own. I had to get in the habit of setting times to stop and take a break or make a goal of how much water I knew I should consume per day. It is especially hard to remember when working outside…

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Additional student to follow

Healthy foods in the lunch line?

I can remember going to elementary school in Canada, more specifically, my year in third grade with Mrs. Cannington. I can still picture lining up outside of the classroom, taking off our winter coats and snow suits, and filing into the classroom to our cubbies to place all of our belongings together. Every cubby hole looked the same during the winter; they were full of wet snow clothes and all contained a brightly colored lunchbox. From my memory of Guy B. Brown Elementary, I can’t remember it having a cafeteria. Every student ate lunch in the classroom, and if it was a nice day, we all went outside together with our brightly colored lunch boxes to eat our homemade lunches. I used to love lunch time. My mom was an expert muffin maker. Besides my favorite pb&honey with banana sandwich, I would have a homemade juice, that perfectly cooked muffin, an apple, and usually carrots. The next year, my family moved to Florida. Fourth grade was a whole new experience for me. Not only did I move to three different teachers throughout the day, but I had to eat lunch in a cafeteria. I can remembering pining for my classmates food that were able to have ‘school lunch.’ As a fourth grader, the food always looked delicious; whether it was taco day, square pizza, chicken fries, or the largest, gooiest chocolate chip cookies I had ever seen, everything in the lunch line looked better than my homemade boxed lunch. It was a VERY rare occasion that I was allowed to eat school lunch, and when I did, it was a styrofoam platter which contained pizza, mac-n-cheese, and possibly canned green beans.  Sounds healthy, right? I brought my lunch to school all the way through middle and high school. I enjoyed having my food from home that was fresh, healthy, and delicious.

A couple of years ago I taught Middle School Agriculture in Volusia County. occasionally, I would have to serve on lunch duty, patrolling the tables, making sure no one started a food fight. It was during my lunch duty that I learned what student’s ate for lunch. I was literally SHOCKED by what the student’s were eating. Most had decided to forgo the fruit and veggie option, and doubled up on french fries or pizza. I actually saw one student who had purchased four of those gooey cookies I previously mentioned. He told me that he spends $2.oo a day, and eats four cookies for his entire lunch. As a faculty member, you have the option of eating school lunch. While I always brought my lunch to school, the cafeteria staff cooked a special Thanksgiving lunch, and I decided to partake. Bad decision. It was truly unfortunate what we were serving in our cafeteria.

On August 29, 2012, the USDA released a report documenting the changes taking place in our school cafeterias. Thanks in part to First Lady Michelle Obama’s role in ‘Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010’ which “will help to combat child hunger and obesity and improve the health and nutrition of the nation’s children,” new cafeteria guidelines and restrictions are taking place. According to the report, there are more than 32 million students on the free or reduced lunch program throughout the public school system. That is a staggeringly high number! It is this number that has given the program and the Act such high priority in our department of agriculture. Every single weekday, the USDA is responsible for governing the food, nutrition and distribution of food for 32 million young agricultural consumers. What a huge responsibility!

After reading this article, I started thinking about being a student in the lunch line. As a fourth grader, I was NOT about to put the baked chicken on my plate over the yummy pizza. It is here that I realized, we are asking students, 6-18 years-old to make food decisions every single day and we were doing it all wrong! What child is not going to pick pizza over chicken? Thanks to this new push in lunch line nutrition, we are forcing students to make healthier food choices in the lunch line. There will be more fruit and vegetable option, low sodium food choices, more whole grains, fat-free drink choices, and choices with lower saturated and trans fat. School cafeterias will now serve grilled chicken salads with a reduced calorie dressing, spaghetti made with whole wheat pasta, and many other healthier options.

While I had no idea up until reading this article that so many student’s relied on the cafeteria food service, it now re-emphasizes the notion that it is agriculture’s job to feed America. We need to make sure as agriculturalists, that we are feeding the pride and joy of our bounty. We need to make sure that our industry is represented to the fullest in the healthier, abundant and safe food supply that can now be found in your local school lunch line.

Enjoy your lunch 🙂


Dearest Gator Blogger’s,

Those of you that have blogged about agriculture within the past week have done a fantastic job! I am thoroughly enjoying reading about your interests and the current issues in agriculture!

As a reminder, the purpose of this assignment is to expose you to a new form of business communication in the field of agriculture. Many (if not most) of the large crop advocacy and agricultural associations are now blogging. Blogging is a great form of media utilized to inform consumers about issues, trends and updates in agriculture. As agriculturalists, we have typically been known as reactive communicators, rather than proactive. Blogging is a great way to be proactive in our communication methods.

Keep those agriculture blogs coming! You are doing a great service to your fellow gators by informing them of what matters most in our industry!

Also, remember to provide each other with positive feedback on their posts. Please make sure that you approve individual comments. I would encourage you to keep track of the blogs you have commented on.

Go Gators!

Let’s Connect!

Hey Gators!

What I would like for you to do is “Follow” all of your classmates. This will allow you to read their recent blogs and make the necessary comments required for the course. I have read some amazing blogs thus far and know we are in for a treat! Below is a list of your classmates and their blogs. If you click on the link, it will take you to their WordPress page. In the top left of the screen you will see “Follow” and you will click there to follow their blog. If you have any issues with that, please let me know. Do this as soon as you can. Justin Woodard Carrie Pierce Toni Mosley Melissa Francavilla Jennifer Avakian Kelcie Williams Amanda Watkins Tori Ford Brooke Sporleder Kevin Rechcigl Leah Mitchel Cardenas Kimberly Jones Molly Schriver Me! Erin Nessmith

Connect! Share! Have Fun!

Happy Blogging,