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Ag Future of America: Students get inspired to achieve at Leaders Conference

Posted by struscott | October 30, 2018
Group photo of WSU students, holding a crimson WSU flag, at the AFA conference.
WSU students unfurl the crimson Cougar flag at the annual AFA Leaders Conference, where they build confidence and networking skills. Attendees of the 2017 conference from WSU include, from left, front row, Alex Johnson, Nicole Buell, Macy Hagler, Kayla Beechinor, Maddie Kramme, Jacklyn Bennett, Lacey Desserault; top row, Max Mielke, Colm Allan, Emma Winker, Brent Rosman, Gracie Dickerson, Eliana Bolt, Lukas Meader, Vanessa Giramata, Joe Rosman, Brennan Hyden, Megan Whited, Randall Chipman, Maya Wahl.


This fall, 21 students from Washington State University will travel to Kansas City, Mo., representing WSU among 800 students from across the nation at the annual Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference.

Founded in 1996, the AFA helps young leaders foster engagement and innovation in food and agriculture. The Leaders Conference, to be held Nov. 1-4, 2018, gives college students the opportunity to grow as young agricultural professionals, while increasing their excitement about the future of agriculture.

“Before my involvement with AFA, while I was continually seeking out new opportunities to enhance my college experience, there was something missing: direction,” said Colm Allan, a current WSU senior majoring in Agriculture Technology and Production Management.

“Now, after being involved for over a year and serving as a student leader, I have gained direction and confidence to enter the agricultural industry, thanks to knowledge learned from my classes and the professionalism that I gained through AFA,” he said.

While his first agricultural internship was beneficial and taught him a great deal about the agricultural industry, Allan quickly realized there is much more to the industry. That was when his first AFA event, the Crop Science Institute in Raleigh, North Carolina, came into the picture.

“After my initial experience in North Carolina, my entire mindset, as well as career trajectory, had drastically changed. I was able to see all of the opportunities that were available across the country,” Allan reflected.

Macy Hagler, a senior studying Agriculture and Food Security, was inspired by her older sister to get involved with AFA as a freshman. She will represent WSU at the AFA Leaders Conference for the fourth time.

“AFA answered questions that school did not,” Hagler said. “It covered every aspect of professional development with engaging speakers and workshops.

“After my experiences, I can confidently say that I am not just ready to find a job, I’m ready to make a career in agriculture,” she added. “I’m so much more excited about my future, because I can see how my career can give me a platform to impact the industry in the best way possible.”

While this may be Hagler’s last time going to the event, she is excited to experience it one last time.

“You’ll never know how much potential you have until you push yourself,” she said. “This conference is a wonderful way to test your boundaries and help you become aware of what you’re capable of.”

Sarah Appel, a current WSU junior, is excited to be going to this conference for the first time.

As a Public Relations major, she is working hard to find a balance between her major and minors in Agricultural Systems and Agribusiness Economics, to one day represent the industry as an agricultural public relations specialist.

“This conference provides me with an opportunity to grow both as an individual and as a future professional in the agricultural industry,” Appel said. “Experiences like this help to open doors within the industry that I want to represent.”

Allan, Hagler and Appel are looking forward to this trip, and the opportunity to represent WSU.

“Regardless of where someone is at, the chance to get out of the comfort zone of campus and network alongside so many other individuals who are invested in the future of agriculture is something that can’t be replaced,” Appel said. “Take the risk, talk to industry partners, and take charge of the future.”

• Learn more about Agriculture Future of America here.