Roberto Ortez is a young South Florida farmer, raised in the small agricultural town of Belle Glade, Florida. Located at the center of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), he is at the locus of the nation’s largest environmental restoration project as well as one of the nation’s most productive agricultural areas. Roberto is an agricultural supervisor at Florida Crystals Corporation, one of the state’s leading producers of sugarcane and rice. He is in training for positions of greater responsibility at the company, but also wishes to serve the wider industry by understanding current agricultural issues and working toward finding solutions.
Roberto is currently enrolled as a full-time online student at the University of Florida where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in environmental management in agriculture and natural resources. He is expected to graduate in the fall of 2022. UF Online allows him the option to work toward his degree while maintaining his full-time job in the EAA. Receiving hands-on experience while simultaneously studying the science of agriculture better prepares him to face the industry’s leading problems because he is watching them develop firsthand.
Roberto’s nine years of experience in planting, cultivating, harvesting, packaging, researching and developing, and systems management of multiple crops has given him a deep knowledge of the challenges faced by farmers in the EAA and around the country. Being raised in a predominately agricultural community, near one of the most unique ecosystems in the world, has allowed him to develop a passion for agriculture as well as a mutual respect for the environment early on. He is now an advocate for both.