Written by Christine Curtis
I want to share a little bit about an amazing organization called Agriculture Future of America (AFA). AFA is a non-profit organization dedicated to preparing young agriculturalists into future leaders of the agriculture industry. It’s hard to explain the passion and how much the organization believes in us college students. All I can say is this organization has literally changed my life.
As a freshmen at Cal Poly, jumping into the start of the training into the agriculture industry, I kept hearing professors advising students to start looking into internships and career paths. Later on, back at home I was at a family barbecue and a friend, who was currently a AFA Campus Ambassador for AFA for UC Davis, inspired me to start looking more into AFA. Eventually, I said what the heck, I’ll apply to go to the Annual Leaders Conference. Not thinking anything of it, I got accepted to go to Kansas City, MO that November! Instantly I panicked. How am I going to get there? What exactly am I doing? Oh no, flying… At that point in my life, I have never flown anywhere before. So the night before I was supposed to jump on the plane, I broke down and almost cancelled my flight. But I sucked it up and went for it.
Traveling wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was able to navigate the airports and get taxis when I needed, but once I got to the conference I was blown away. I heard from motivational speakers like Temple Grandin, Orion Samuelson, and many more! I got to work one-on-one with a recruiter from Cargill on building my resume. I attended the opportunity fair that featured over 100 companies that were so interested in hearing my elevator pitch as well as offering me some amazing internship opportunities. I learned a lot about goal setting, communication skills, and I also was able to have dinner with some industry professionals!
Additionally, I not only got to network with industry professionals, but I also got to know so many passionate student leaders from all over the country. These students are so welcoming and ready to help serve the end goal, to become the future passionate leaders of the agriculture industry. The friendships that I made with these students will last for a lifetime. It’s crazy to think that one day I will be either be working along side these leaders or be competing against them in the career world.
Coming back from the conference, I felt incredibly empowered. I was ready to take on the world! I started getting involved in my school with the Agribusiness Management Club as well as deciding to minor in Agriculture Communications. This experience solidified the reasons why I am pursuing a career in the agriculture industry as well as motivated me to not just be ordinary, but extraordinary in my everyday life. I now pay a lot more attention to the current problems in agriculture as well as reach out to my peers and get to know them. The conference gave me the confidence to go out into my county and land a local internship. From there, I have grown into managing the downtown location for a local beef jerky company called Cattaneo Bros.
I have stayed involved in AFA throughout college so far by attending two leaders conferences, participating in AFA’s ONTAP webinars, and I have become one of AFA’s 2015 Campus Ambassadors. I represent Cal Poly nationally at AFA events as well as spreading awareness of AFA on campus. So far I have gained the Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences approval in funding inquiries as well as getting a group of students interested in getting involved!
I can’t thank AFA enough for providing an amazing opportunity for me and other students to get professional training and for further fueling my passion for agriculture.