TALLAHASSEE — The Heartland counties of the South Florida Water Management District finally have representation on the governing board.
The SFWMD governing board seat representing Glades, Highlands, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola and Polk counties has been vacant since March.
On Nov. 5, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of Benjamin Butler to the board. This appointment fills the final vacancy on this nine-member board.
Mr. Butler, of Lorida, is the manager of Butler Oaks Farm, a family-owned dairy farm. Butler Oaks Farm has operated for more than 80 years and has received the Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Mr. Butler has been the director of the Okeechobee Farm Bureau since 2007 and the president and past director of the Okeechobee Youth Livestock Show since 2008.
He earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in animal science from the University of Florida.
Mr. Butler is appointed to a four-year term. This appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
Mr. Butler was one of 13 applicants who sought the seat on the governing board.
In his application, Mr. Butler explained, “I have lived my whole life, with the exception of college, on my family’s farm. Our farm is on the banks of the Kissimmee River. I have lived, breathed and worked during a time of heightened environmental awareness. I have been actively involved on many projects that my family and farm have cooperated with different governmental agencies to improve our environmental footprint, such as SFWMD, Department of Environmental Protection, United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Services, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, etc.”