CAHNRS well represented at national leaders conference

By Sarah Appel, CAHNRS Academic Programs

Nineteen students and one faculty member from WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) attended the annual Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference in Kansas City, Mo. earlier this month.

Group photo of conference attendees holding a red WSU flag.
Back Row: Kai Yi Wang, Chase Baerlocher, Leighton Dorman, Luke Wolfisberg, Gracie Dickerson, Nick Schultheis, Ornella Usanase, Aline Uwase, Corey Phillips, Amanda Martian
Front Row: Juliana LeClair, Elea Van Weerdhuizen, Lacey Biemold, Kayla Beechinor, Autumn Miller, Sarah Appel, Juan Martinez, Harrison Moore, Marie Boragine

The students ranged in majors from Animal Science and Agricultural and Food Business Economics to Communication and Field Crop Management and were among the approximately 850 students and over 300 industry leaders from across the nation to attend.

The conference provided students pursuing future careers in food and agriculture a chance to develop their professional abilities and grow as individuals. Students were placed in different tracks and exposed to a variety of different speakers depending on their year in school and previous involvement with AFA.

Track 4, the last and most selective track, included sessions about living an authentic life, respect and inclusion in the workplace, advanced time management, and leadership capabilities.

“AFA encouraged me to use long term thinking for short term decisions: what kind of life do I want to live?” said Gracie Dickerson, a senior Agricultural and Food Business Economics major and Track 4 delegate.

The other tracks also included speakers who focused on money management, professional attire, etiquette, communication, brand development, and handling change in the agriculture industry.

Round table discussions, industry panels, and an opportunity fair with over 80 companies represented provided students with the chance to connect with professionals from the agriculture industry.

With professional development at this caliber, the conference left a different impact on every student.

“AFA had a huge impact on me, and I was able to meet great new friends as well as make connections in the agriculture industry,” said Corey Phillips, a first-year WSU student planning to major in Animal Science. “I actually switched my major because of the impact of the conference. It was definitely a great experience and I would recommend it to all of my friends in the ag program.”

The main goal of AFA is to provide opportunities for college students and bridge the gap between education and industry within the agriculture sector. Leaders Conference is one of the many ways they achieve this and will continue to do so for many years.

“AFA helped me to expand my network of people, professionals, and friends in a way that incorporates our mutual appreciation of agriculture. It put me in contact with people whose opinions and experiences were different than mine, and helped me to broaden my understanding of the American agriculture industry,” said Chase Baerlocher, a sophomore in Agricultural Biotechnology.