State Representative Jake Raburn Named as one of the University of Florida’s Top 20 Under 30 Alumni

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Florida State Representative;
Director of Marketing, Hinton Farms Produce

State Rep. Jake Raburn didn’t know he was the youngest member of the Florida Legislature until a reporter asked him how he felt about it.

The 2007 UF alumnus was elected to the Florida House of Representatives last fall when he was just 27. It had always been the Plant City native’s goal to run for a political office – just not this early in his life.

But the path was paved last year when a seat came open in his home base of Hillsborough County. Just five years out of college, Raburn had already been a part of both a government agency – his first job out of school was with the Florida Department of Citrus – and a family-owned business. He left the Department of Citrus to work for his wife’s family’s farm, and he was a member of his local Farm Bureau board. So he felt like he had a unique perspective not only on government but also on how its policies affect real people.

“Being in Tallahassee and being on the other side of the desk, there is this magnitude to it all,” he says. “You feel a sense of responsibility to stand up for the people you represent and do what you think is right.”

Growing up in the winter strawberry capital of the world, Raburn felt like agriculture was in his blood. When it was time to choose a college, UF, with its robust programs in agriculture, was his only choice. The decision to com to UF has paid off in more ways than one.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about relationships,” he says. “Those relationships I built at UF are relationships I have now. Learning that sense of community and pride and being part of The Gator Nation, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

Moving forward, Raburn is thinking ahead to the next legislative session, to his next election in 2014 and to the future of his family’s farm. His own family is growing, too. He and wife Melissa welcomed son, Jackson, in 2011. As far as running for other offices, the future is wide open.

“We’ll see what the future holds for my family,” he says. “It’s about the right opportunities at the right time.”

– April Fawley Birdwell (BSJ ’02)