PULLMAN, Wash. – When you’re the fifth generation of your family to grow up on a farm, agriculture is sort of ingrained.
“There’s so much you aren’t in control of, it’s up to mother nature,” said Max Mielke, a Washington State University senior from Davenport, Wash., who plans to graduate in December. “It’s a lifestyle and I’m drawn to it.”
Mielke, who is majoring in Agricultural Economics, hopes to one day take over his family farm from his dad. But before that, he’s taking advantage of being a college student, learning and experiencing as much as he can.
As part of that, Mielke has been named one of 10 student advisors from around the country to represent the group Agriculture Future of America (AFA).
“It’s a huge honor and responsibility,” said Mielke, who will work as an intern with Northwest Farm Credit Services this summer. “AFA helps students move from school into the ag industry seamlessly and become leaders once they get there.”
Mielke got involved with AFA as a senior in high school, when he received a scholarship to attend their annual leadership conference in Kansas City.
“It was a little overwhelming, but I learned so much,” he said. “I did a resume workshop with a professional in the ag industry. It was a huge advantage to learn those skills so early.”
Since then, Mielke has been to AFA events in cities ranging from Washington D.C. to Des Moines, Iowa, to Sacramento, Calif.
“I’ve toured corn fields in Iowa, stockyards in Kansas City, and legislator’s offices in D.C.,” Mielke said. “I’ve gotten so much from my work with AFA, I can’t wait to give back.”
He’ll be giving back as part of the student advisory team, which includes students from universities all around the country. The team is planning and will facilitate the 2017 AFA Leaders Conference, held in November in Kansas City. They also represent AFA nationally at other events around the country. That’s on top of their regular schoolwork at their universities.
“It takes a lot of time and is a huge responsibility,” Mielke said. “But it’s been the most impactful thing I’ve ever done. It’s huge for my own career development and has opened so many doors for me, I just want to pass that along to more students. I want them to see how helpful AFA is and how much they can gain from it.”
Applications for the 2017 AFA Leaders Conference are now open to interested students.