Honoring and helping veterans is the best way to honor those who have fallen.

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those people who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. There is an array of parades and ceremonies to honor the fallen on this day. Honoring and helping veterans who served is another way to honor the fallen, and it’s an effort that can be undertaken every day of the year. Commissioner of Florida Agriculture, Nicole Fried, announced in March a “Veteran of the Month” initiative, which would recognize veterans who have gone above and beyond in agriculture or service to fellow Floridians, according to a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) press release. In honor of Memorial Day and in appreciation of Florida ag, we’d like to share each month’s honoree below.

Veteran of the Month: Honoring Veterans

The following veterans were honored by the “Veteran of the Month” program, and their information is taken from FDACS press releases.

March Honoree: First Sergeant Mary L. Lester, “U.S. Army (Ret), a native of Tallahassee, Sergeant Lester first joined the Florida Army National Guard in 1984, served in the 53rd Signal Brigade, and the 107th and 70th Mobile Public Affairs Detachments, as well as the Missouri National Guard.

Her career includes an overseas combat tour in Afghanistan, as well as overseas tours in Kosovo, Germany, Belgium, Honduras, and Guatemala. Her 14 years in Florida state government includes service in former Governor Jeb Bush’s Citizen Services Office.

Sergeant Lester’s awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the NATO Medal, and eight awards of the Army Reserve Achievement Medal.

She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, and graduated from the Defense Information School at Fort Meade.”

May Honoree: Sergeant Ryan McKibben. “U.S. Army (Ret.), dedicated 10 years to military service and served two combat tours in Iraq. In January, he was offered admission to the Veterans Florida Agriculture Program and continued to intern at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, where he recently earned his Pesticide Applicator License from the Department of Agriculture.

“Veterans Florida is incredibly proud of Ryan and grateful to Commissioner Friedfor recognizing his accomplishments. Ryan is a tremendous example of the contributions that veterans make to the agriculture industry,” said Jeremy Sinnemaki, Entrepreneurship & Agriculture Director at Veterans Florida.

After returning from his combat tours, Sergeant McKibben enrolled at Tallahassee Community College, where he served as President of the Student Veterans Association. He completed his Bachelor’s degree at the Florida State University, where he was appointed External Coordinator for the Veterans Student Union and elected treasurer of the Collegiate Veterans Association. While earning his degree, Sergeant McKibben worked as a Legislative Fellow with Veterans of Foreign Wars & Student Veterans of America.” Read more here.

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.