In the small rural town of Armona, livelihoods are often connected to agriculture. Like the 80-year-old Bennett and Bennett Irrigation Company. That's where you'll find Adam Sabourin, a U.S. Army veteran who wants other vets to have the chance to succeed by using the transferable skills learned in the military.
When the West Point graduate went active duty he was trained as a helicopter pilot. He served three tours in Iraq, including the 15 months surge in 2007. The decorated soldier was later transferred to California's National Guard in Sacramento for his last year and a half of active duty.
After his release, he had a job waiting with his brother-in-law Armona, and came home to Valley. His success in using his own Army skills led to the hiring a veteran from his old unit. Low and behold, he had an ag business degree from Fresno State!
Word of mouth led to another mission when Sabourin was asked to help launch the Ag Warrior program. The idea? Get Valley veterans working in the ag industry. "It's a program that's gonna be good for soldiers, it's the least I can do."
The Ag Expo set out to get just the right speaker to draw a crowd and raise funds to support the teaching side of Ag Warriors.
"What would be the best fit to draw attention to this event? To kick off our program and we are very pleased to be welcoming President George W. Bush," said Liza Teixeira with the International Agra-Center, "We're glad to be having this event but even more glad to be able to provide this program to veterans."
To date, five universities and colleges have agreed to develop and offer a short term ag education. The program is designed to give vets a good look at the industry and the skills that can lead to various and permanent jobs in agriculture.
Adam Sabourin may have left military service but he still lives and works by the same values he learned at West Point: to give a lifetime of service to his country. "I'm still serving my nation in many ways I'm helping farmers grow food for my nation. So I feel I haven't strayed from what I was trained to do since I was 17."
Tickets to Tuesday evening's Ag Warrior Gala with President George W. Bush are still available at prices from $50 to $500 a seat.
The World Ag Expo runs through Thursday at the International Agri-Center in Tulare. The address is 4450 South Laspina Street.