Interested in the public sector? Read how FRE alumnus, Jamie Fussell, is working to build his practice as an attorney in the areas of agricultural, environmental, and water law. In the interview, Fussell reflects back to his education in the Food and Resource Economics major and experience working in various agricultural positions including assisting the Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture, Gary Black. Read More Below:
About our Spotlight:
Name: James (Jamie) Fussell
Major: Food and Resource Economics – International Food and Resource Economics
College: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Graduation: Class of 2012
Current Position: Attorney – Southwest Florida Water Management District
After his graduation from the University of Mississippi School of Law, Jamie Fussell kicked off his career in the public sector by working as the assistant to Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture, Gary Black. In the position, Fussell assisted the Commissioner and the Department in addressing issues involving food safety, animal disease control, and disaster preparedness, and worked on special programs that focused on school nutrition and consumer education.
Working with Commissioner Black influenced Fussell’s perspective of public service and he continually reflects back on his time with the Commissioner. He has since worked as an attorney in other areas of the public sector including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Tallahassee. Fussell presently practices law in the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Office of General Counsel in Tampa.
How Does the Position Relate to FRE?
As a government attorney, Fussell feels his degree in Food and Resource Economics best prepared him for his career. Reflecting back to his studies in Food and Resource Economics, Fussell discusses several FRE courses stating, “One of my first FRE courses was on the valuation of natural resources. Every day, I see the value that is placed on our natural environment and the costs associated with replacing, mitigating, or preserving it. My FRE policy courses were a great foundation to many issues I see as a government attorney. Professor Olexa’s Agricultural and Natural Resource Law classes, in particular, prepared me for both law school and my career.”
FRE gave Fussell a global and local perspective of agricultural and natural resources and allowed him to develop transferable skills that he can apply directly to his profession. Fussell shared an example, “One of my professional interests is determining where the conservation of Florida’s natural environment intersects with the agricultural industry, and how both of those interests can work together to thrive in a Florida that is seeing incredible development and population growth. FRE graduates are uniquely prepared to understand and tackle a variety of issues like this one.”
Thoughts on FRE as a Graduate?
Reflecting on the Food and Resource Economics major, Fussell enjoyed the flexibility of FRE. “I like that FRE is more than just agribusiness classes. I don’t feel pigeonholed to one type of career but have the skills and knowledge to work in any field.” to quote Fussell. He also felt his involvement Alpha Gamma Rho, a fraternity focused on preparing its members for careers in the agriculture or food industry, and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Leadership Institute further amplified his passion for the agricultural industry.
When asked about his favorite and most educational FRE course, Fussell reflected on his capstone in International Agribusiness Marketing with Professor Sterns. “I was in a semester-long group project with a few of my AGR fraternity brothers. We created a faux gourmet orange juice product and were to export it to either Canada or South Korea. After weeks of market research for our product, we determined it was not viable to export to either country. The lesson I will always remember from that exercise is not to force something to get the desired result.” With examples like these, Fussell felt the FRE coursework was engaging and challenging and hopes future FRE students will enjoy the same. When asked for recommendations for students currently in the FRE major, he said “Don’t put yourself into a box. Join clubs, make friends (future colleagues), take advantage of study abroad opportunities, and study hard. There are so many career paths you can take as an FRE graduate.”