AGEC Learning Community introduces 1st year students to agriculture industry

Written by Kendell Combs

The AGEC department offers a unique option for first-time beginning students in department to join the Discovering Agribusiness Learning Community. This entails a fall semester course led by academic advisor, Ryan Musselman, with support from teaching assistants. It is geared toward students who want to learn more about career opportunities available in the agribusiness industry. Many students join this learning community if they had not grown up on a farm or in a rural community, participated in 4H or FFA, or had parents who worked in agriculture, but that doesn’t mean the class doesn’t benefit students who did have those experiences. Students are involved in networking with industry representatives, social activities, career preparation, service projects, shared meals and classroom learning.
Cole Pearson (Freshman; Agribusiness Management; Delphi, IN) joined this learning community because he wanted to make a group of friends in his major and visit agribusinesses to find out where his interests lie. “I feel I have gotten a lot closer to people in my learning community that I wouldn’t have worked with otherwise. Our groups were mixed around giving us opportunities to work with different people.”
Leading up to the fall career fair, students had a personalized preparation evening where they could stay after class to listen to CCO representatives discuss resumes, elevator speeches, and attires. Zoey Nobbe (Freshman; AgriFinance; Greensburg, IN) believes that the preparation for the career fair in this class led her to having more confidence entering this large professional atmosphere for the first time. “Being in this learning community was a big help with the career fair because we already meet with so many companies we have been exposed to talking with people that represent businesses and network.” 
The learning community attended the Evening with Old Masters event together. Kayla Carder’s (Freshman; AgriFinance; Greensburg, IN) favorite part was being able to hear how Purdue has changed over the years. The ‘Old Masters’ varied in age, so hearing them talk about things on campus that were different from today was very interesting to her. One thing Kayla has taken away from this experience is “that Purdue can be as big of a school or as small of a school as you want it to be.”
In addition to career prep and exposure to the agriculture industry, the learning community also has social activities meant to build better friendships among the students. Riley Garner’s (Freshman; Agribusiness Management; Kokomo, IN) favorite event was the Exploration Acres trip and bonfire afterward because “it was a fun, friendly competition and was a relaxing time to hang out and get to know my peers.”
Katarina Emerich (Freshman; Agribusiness Management; Mooers, NY) also valued the time spent with her classmates outside of class at Exploration Acres. She especially liked the bonfire at the Mussleman's house because it gave her the opportunity to get to know her professor and TA's better. 
Luke Lael (Freshman; Agribusiness Management; Ossian, IN) didn’t remember clicking "yes" during registration to be in a learning community, but he is so glad that it happened. “I have met some very incredible people while being in the learning community and we have had some awesome times. Being surrounded by like-minded, professional individuals who have a passion for the agriculture industry and learning was the best part about the community.”
Molly Grotjan (Freshman; Agribusiness Management; Zionsville, IN) encourages any prospective student to join who wants to learn more about the value of the agricultural industry. Molly is thankful for the personal development gained from this experience. “It is a great opportunity that not only exposes you to the sectors of the agricultural industry, but familiarizes yourself with Purdue University, the College of Agriculture, and your peers.”
Ryan Musselman describes this opportunity as a work hard, play hard experience, saying, “The students work hard in the classroom, but the learning community events allow the students to have fun out of the classroom and get to know one another really well.” The students help plan and suggest events to participate in. Ryan mentioned that some of the optional events this year included a Purdue Volleyball game, visit to Fair Oaks Farms, pumpkin carving, pizza night, game night, professional networking banquet with companies from the class, Super Bowl party, March Madness watch party, laser tagging, mini golf, PackThePanel with Rising Professionals, Euchre night, bowling, Hammer Down Hunger, Big Man on Campus talent show, Spring Fest, Moonlight Pancake Breakfast, Purdue Baseball game, and a bonfire. 
This year the students even wanted to compete together in volleyball intramurals. A unique component of this learning community is that it is offered over both the fall and spring semesters. Musselman concluded, “This experience is great for those that want to learn about agriculture, discover a career they are passionate for, want to get to know their peers, and want to have fun!”
The Discovering Agribusiness Learning Community connects you with classmates who are just as new to campus and college life as you are. Many found this to be comforting in their first couple of weeks at Purdue. If you are looking to expand your knowledge and exposure of the agriculture industry and meet people with similar interests of yours, you can apply here:

Agricultural Economics, 403 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4191

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