Growing Forward: Kayla Thomason

December 2022 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Kayla Thomason
YF&R State Leadership Group, District 7

Agriculture runs deep in Kayla Thomason’s blood. Her father managed a fresh citrus packing house for 40 years in St. Lucie County which introduced her to agriculture at a young age. Thomason has fond memories riding around citrus groves and camping out with family amongst the trees. In high school, Thomason began working on research trials for the University of Florida in a citrus postharvest lab. This is what spurred her passion for agriculture.

During her time at the University of Florida, Thomason interned with Syngenta in the plant pathology lab and her passion continued to grow. She graduated from UF with a bachelors in Environmental Management in Ag and Natural Resources in 2012 and went on to pursue a master’s in Agronomy in 2016 and a doctorate in Plant Medicine in 2017.

Upon graduation from UF, Thomason accepted a job as an agronomist for the Sugarcane Growers Cooperative of Florida. Thomason recently accepted a new role as a farm manager for King Ranch at one of their farms in South Florida. She currently grows sugarcane and sweet corn.

Thomason’s involvement with Florida Farm Bureau began when a college friend introduced her to the organization. At the time, her friend was on the state leadership group and encouraged Thomason to attend the Florida Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers conference. During college, Thomason would volunteer at county events when she went home to visit.

After college, Thomason moved back to St. Lucie County and now sits on her county board. Joining the YF&R Leadership Group seemed like a logical step for Thomason to grow in her leadership skills and involvement in Farm Bureau.

“Farm Bureau has allowed me to network with so many people from around the state,” said Thomason. “I like being part of a group who wants to support their communities and who fight for agriculture to remain a vital part of Florida’s way of life.”

Thomason is proud of her county’s involvement in the community. Every February the St. Lucie County Farm Bureau hosts the Brian Schirard Memorial Clay Shoot. The clay shoot raises money for a scholarship fund that is awarded to high school students every year. In addition to the clay shoot, the county hosts a cattle show fundraiser each December. Named the Kyle Patterson Cattle Extravaganza, this show raises money to provide funds for anyone ages 18-35 that are furthering their career in any agricultural related field.

“It’s rare to find funding for anything other than college,” said Thomason. “I think having an opportunity to help young people develop much needed trade skills are important and I’m proud that we are able to do it.”

As more technology becomes available, agriculture is always evolving. Thomason continues to utilize new technology in her career like precision agriculture that pinpoints the exact amount of fertilizer to apply. Additionally, she has been testing soil moisture probes that will help reduce fuel consumption and resources needed to run irrigation.

“To me, ‘growing forward’ means utilizing new technology and practices to help overcome the many obstacles faced in agriculture so we can be as sustainable and productive as possible.”