While the month of April began with a cold chill outdoors, the atmosphere at Dow AgroSciences was in a heat wave. On April 2, 2016, the AgChat Foundation brought together over 70 students at the 2016 Collegiate Congress, hosted on the campus in Indianapolis. Attendees represented 18 universities and colleges from 10 states.
The day began with a shock and awe keynote from RoyLee Lindsey of the Oklahoma Pork Board. Lindsey provided a call to action which inspired the students to take a concerted effort to ask consumers about their buying decisions. He emphasized the need to listen rather than jumping to conclusions on others’ opinions, a lesson that was echoed throughout the entirety of the conference.
“I was so impressed with this year’s National Collegiate Congress,” said Natalina Sents, attendee and senior of Iowa State University. “The event was well planned and gave me the opportunity to network with peers from other schools, as well as professionals with varying fields of expertise. Learning with such a diverse group of people made for a very, rich experience.”
The student panels offered great insight and were unlike anything I’d ever participated in. I came home with several pages of notes, but my favorite take-away from the breakouts was Travis Haney’s advice, ‘Don’t miss the journey.’ I highly recommend this conference to any student passionate about food and agriculture,” said Sents.
The interactive event consisted of featured speakers, student collaboration activities, and a variety of breakout sessions which covered professional growth, brand analysis, advocating through apps, on campus events, silent social media monitoring and more.
Students also participated in a video creation project in which they were divided into five teams and tasked with creating a short video about the importance of being an advocate for agriculture. The videos were posted on the AgChat Foundation YouTube page, and the team whose video received the most views received complimentary registrations to the 2016 Cultivate & Connect conference or the 2017 Collegiate Congress. The winning group includes Natalina Sents of Iowa State University, Perry Harlow of Illinois State University, Megan Neumann of Joilet Junior College (IL), Morgan Hasler of Purdue University, Brandi Peverley of Allen County Community College (KS), Michaela Price of The Ohio State University, Angie Ruffoni of Santa Rosa Community College (CA), Sabrina Myoda of Purdue University, and MeKenzie Gear of Purdue University. In the winning video, the team chose to encourage farmers and consumers to ask the individuals about different aspects in agriculture. The winning video may be viewed by visiting https://youtu.be/svBbxfTTAlU
The AgChat Foundation hosts several regional conferences throughout the year and the international Cultivate & Connect conference. These events provide farmers, ranchers, agribusiness professionals and educators with the tools to empower the telling of their agriculture stories.
If you would like more information about ACF’s Collegiate Congress, contact AgChat Foundation Executive Director, Jenny Schweigert by calling 309-241-8803 or email execdir at agchat.org.