AGEC Department sends 32 students to the AFA Leaders Conference

Written by Kendell Combs

Agriculture Future of America, AFA, “builds bridges for young leaders to foster engagement and innovation in food and agriculture.” The organization invests in college students who share three characteristics: talent, passion and commitment to a career in agriculture. AFA provides premiere personal and professional development programs to those individuals. Each year, Purdue students can apply to attend the AFA Leaders Conference and are placed into Tracks depending on their year in school. The AGEC department had many students chosen to travel to Kansas City for the event last semester.

Cole Pearson (Freshman; Agribusiness Management; Delphi, IN) was a Track 1 participant for his first year. One of his favorite sessions there was about networking. The speaker presented networking as the concept of intentional relationship building instead of just simply collecting business cards. “Now, on campus I am going to build relationships with professors or recruiters instead of seeing networking as a game.” 

This year was Alexie Schroeder’s (Junior; Applied Agricultural Economics; Idaville, IN) first AFA experience and she was in Track 3. After one weekend with AFA, Alexie left knowing that she would recommend attending AFA to anyone. She enjoyed listening to the guest speakers and hearing the stories and life lessons they had for the attendees. She could easily relate their messages back to her own life. “Attending AFA gave me the chance to grow in my leadership skills, and network with students and professionals from all over the country.” 

AFA allows any student attending a four-year institution within the U.S., including exchange students, to join. Mikayla Bruce (Junior; Agricultural Economics; Almonds, Victoria Australia) is from University of New England and attended the conference while she was a student at Purdue. “As an Australian exchange student, it is very difficult to access internships in the US because of VISA restrictions, however most of the companies were multi-national with offices in Australia. Many people I talked to were more than happy to put me in contact with their Australian office. The companies at the career fair truly wanted to help you and I found it very rewarding.” She found the career fair to be unlike any other she attended and saw how it directly benefited her future career choices. Mikayla felt as though it gave her a good idea of what different companies offer and generated more interest for her to pursue a future with the companies in attendance. 

The AFA Leaders Conference offers an invaluable experience in terms of how to network, manage change, manage money, and manage yourselves. Students returning from these conferences come back very enthusiastic about their future careers because of all the connections with industry representatives they made. If you are interested in applying to attend the next conference, you can find more information here.

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