By Abby Crawford
Though she’s from Hillsborough County, Keri Greenwood has called Polk County “home” for the last four years and plans to keep it just that for years to come. Keri crossed the county line to attend college at Warner University where she studied agriculture, putting much of her focus towards beef production. While at Warner, Keri played a large part in boosting student involvement both around campus and in the Ag department.
Throughout her four years at Durant High School she was active in FFA, competing in numerous events and even traveled to nationals for parliamentary procedure. She served as president over her FFA chapter at Durant as well as Warner.
Keri’s goal for college was to “get back to her roots”. Both of her great grandfathers, C. B. “Bud” Hiscock and Maurice Greenwood ran cattle through Picnic, Keri’s little hometown. They both instilled a love for agriculture and cattle into Keri at a very young age and are the reason she went on to study it in college. “Those men are my hero’s,” she shares.
At Warner, students are required to complete practicums each semester so that by the completion of their degree, they will have accumulated over 500 hours of in-the-field, hands-on training.
“Even though I’m a few generations removed from the ranching industry, I got back there as soon as time allowed.”
For her first practicum Keri worked under Dr. LuJean Waters with Heartland Large Animal vet services. This internship prepared her for emergencies in the field and how to handle them until the vet arrives. Keri was also able to work cattle with Dr. Waters; administering vaccinations, palpating heifers, and dehorning when needed.
“I couldn’t have picked a better place to start out than with Doc,” Keri shares. “She taught me so much, for example how to give injections, different diseases to be mindful of, and overall animal health and anatomy. This gave me a solid foundation to go onto ranches.”
From there Keri completed three internships on different cattle ranches in Florida. Crooked Lake Ranch taught her the importance of good record keeping and hers management practices. She then moved to Lake Placid for the summer to work for Gene Lollis at Buck Island Ranch.
“Mr. Gene and his foreman Andy Yates taught me so much about cattle and the operations behind it. I know I’ll always have success if I just do what Mr. Gene taught me: to get up, show up, and never give up.” At the close of her college career, Keri was able to finish off her hours at Lightsey Cattle Company under Mr. Cary Lightsey, which was one off the bucket list. “I’ll never forget telling my best friend four years ago that I would work at LCC one day.” And now, four years later, Keri wrapped up her internship sitting horseback at Lightsey Cattle Co.
“I’m sure I made a great first impression by falling off Elvis, Mr. Cary’s horse, the first 20 minutes on the job!” Keri chuckles. “All of my internships taught me so much that I use in my life now. God knew what he was doing when he placed me, the rookie, under the employment of so many wonderful people!”
Now that she has turned her tassel, Keri is thrilled to have accepted a great position at FDACS, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as a Livestock Inspector for Division 4. She will be serving both Polk and Osceola counties.
“The fun part of the job is getting to be around livestock, especially cattle, the rewarding part is getting to help producers.”
Keri shares that her education in the classroom from Warner combined with education in the field is what helped groom her to be a good fit for FDACS.
Congratulations Keri! Polk County is excited to have a fresh face active in agriculture and work alongside the ranchers in the area.
If you’re out and about at livestock markets this summer, make sure to welcome Keri and Thank a Farmer!