Cultivating Change

New Highlands County Extension Agent Ready to Take on the Challenges


Ranking second in the state for dairy and beef cattle and third for citrus production, Highlands County has always been a hub for agriculture.

Now there’s a new face in town ready to help county farmers make an even bigger impact.

Alissa Hevesh is the new Agriculture Production and Natural Resources Agent for Highlands County. She brings with her not just an impressive resume, but a profound dedication to making a big difference here in Central Florida. 

A Passion for Agriculture That Runs Deep

Hevesh has always felt a deep connection to food and farming. From her college days working at a local farmers market to managing a greenhouse in Parrish, her journey in agriculture has been nothing short of inspiring. 

Her love for agriculture is not just a career choice; it’s a calling. “I have felt drawn to food for as long as I can remember,” she says. 

This passion led her to earn a master’s degree in food and resource economics from the University of Florida, making her the only Extension agent in the Southeast district with a background in economics, according to Kati Lawson, Highlands County Extension Director.

“Agriculture is not only a passion of mine,” Hevesh claims. “It’s where I’ve chosen to grow my career.”

Stepping Into Her New Role

In her newest assignment, Hevesh’s primary objectives are twofold. First, she wants to support producers and foster an understanding (and appreciation) for local natural resources among residents and visitors alike. 

Hevesh plans to be involved in implementing Best Management Practices, agricultural and pesticide safety, and producing educational publications to support the community. She also wants to promote natural resource conservation, something that’s particularly important in Highland county, which has more than 100 lakes, one of Florida’s oldest scrub habitats, and Florida’s first state park.

Her immediate priority, however, is to first get to know the community and understand its needs. “While I have ties to Highlands County, I recently relocated to the area and am getting to know it more deeply,” she says. 

She’s particularly excited about engaging with small and beginning farmers, supporting farm succession planning, and promoting natural resource conservation. She’s keen on partnering with other departments and agencies to maximize her impact. “Approaching these challenges collaboratively will be essential,” she emphasizes.

Ultimately, Hevesh’s vision for Highlands County is ambitious, yet grounded in reality. She wants to address some of the biggest challenges in the area, namely land loss to development, climate change, and the spread of citrus disease. 

“Many factors are out of our control and will require out-of-the-box thinking and shifting perspective,” she notes. 

She encourages residents and stakeholders to reach out with requests or suggestions for programs and classes. “Long story short, there are many potential routes I can take, and I will shape my work based on what I am hearing from my stakeholders,” she explains. 

Making an Impact One Relationship at a Time

One of Hevesh’s main goals is, again, to build lasting relationships within the community. She’s already making a phenomenal impression and has reached out to several extension clients within the first week to get to know more about the area.

According to Lawson, “Alissa wants to help however she can, and I hope to see her growers utilize her business acumen and reach out to her with questions…Alissa has great ideas of how to make a big impact in the area. I am excited to see her career unfold.”

Hevesh is poised to make a significant impact as the new Agriculture Production/Natural Resources Agent for Highlands County. From addressing agricultural challenges to promoting sustainability and engaging with educational programs, Hevesh’s vision is equal parts clear and inspiring.

You can reach Hevesh at

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