Agricultural Economics Department Names Outstanding Students for 2019-2020


Every year, the Department of Agricultural Economics must select one student from each class to compete for the College Outstanding Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Awards. This year, the department selected the following students:


Department of Agricultural Economics Outstanding Freshmen Halee Fisher (Millersburg, IN)

Purdue’s Department of Agricultural Economics’ Outstanding Freshmen is Halee Fisher, Millersburg, IN. She is a double major in Agricultural Economics with a Quantitative Analysis Concentration and Agronomy with an International Agronomy Concentration earning minors in Psychology and Global Food and Agricultural Systems.

As an incoming freshman, Halee immediately “jumped” at the opportunities available to her at Purdue. She participated in the “Big Idea Challenge in Global Food & Water Energy Sustainability” where she designed and implemented software to enable future researchers and stakeholders to study long-run sustainability issues. Halee also traveled to Peru for a food security study abroad with Dr. Mark Russell during her first college winter break! And in her bid to experience it all at Purdue, Halee is a member of the Ag Economics Quiz Bowl Team and will be competing at the 2020 AAEA (Agricultural & Applied Economics Association) annual meeting.







Department of Agricultural Economics Outstanding Sophomore - Cole Pearson (Delphi, IN)

Purdue’s Department of Agricultural Economics’ Outstanding Sophomore is Cole Pearson, Delphi, IN. He is completing a B.S. in Agribusiness with a minor in Human Resource Management and a Collaborative Leadership Certificate.

Cole serves as an Ag Ambassador, represented the College of Agriculture in Spring 2019 as the College of Agriculture Purdue Student Government Senator, joined Collegiate Farm Bureau and attended their national convention in Nashville, TN, and is an active member of Purdue FFA Alumni Chapter.

Cole also joined Purdue Foundation Student Board (PFSB) and is a member of their 2020 Philanthropy Committee! In this first year of serving on PFSB, he has assisted with President Council tailgates, hosted Mike McCulley during the Purdue Astronaut Reunion, and is currently coordinating the “Tag Day” plan for “Why Give” week!
On a national level, Cole is also developing relationships with his ag peers and representing Purdue University! He has attended Ag Future of America (AFA) Leaders’ Conference in Kansas City during November 2018 and 2019 completing AFA Track 1 & 2.  He traveled to Washington D.C. in March 2019 to attend AFA’s Policy Institute and just recently returned from the 2020 AFA Food Institute in Chicago, IL. Cole has joined the AFA Leader Fellowship Program with a focus to grow six leadership competencies while being mentored by an agricultural industry leader.



Department of Agricultural Economics Outstanding Junior –  Kayla Fogg (Rushville, IN)

Purdue’s Department of Agricultural Economics’ Outstanding Junior is Kayla Fogg, Rushville, IN. She is completing a B.S. in Agribusiness with minors in Animal Science and Farm Management and a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. 

Kayla is involved with the Department of Agricultural Economics’ Purdue Sales and Marketing Association and is in her second year as an Agricultural Economics Envoy. She has been involved with Ag Week since her freshman year and, as Events’ Chair last year, was accountable for booth space and activities for over 35 College of Agriculture clubs during Ag Week.  This year, her goal is to have over 50 clubs represented!

She is also on Ag Council as a member of the Moonlight Pancake Breakfast Committee and Rising Professionals where she served as a Host in Spring 2018 and the Promotional Officer in Spring 2019. As a junior, she was selected to Purdue Foundation Student Board (PFSB); the organization that is the “face” of Purdue students to alumni and donors. In this role, Kayla has hosted Captain Scott Tingle during the Purdue Astronaut Reunion and engaged with alumni during numerous President Council tailgates.  Her main responsibility this semester is scheduling the minute-by-minute timeline for the Build Dinner and assisting with the Purdue Why Give Campaign and Purdue Day of Giving.




David and Stacy Hefty Agricultural Economics Outstanding Senior – Stephen Schwartz (Noblesville, IN)

Purdue’s Department of Agricultural Economics’ Outstanding Senior and Purdue University's G.A. Ross Outstanding Senior Man for 2020 is Stephen Schwartz of Noblesville, IN. Stephen is on track to complete the requirements for the University Honors College, B.S. in Agronomy with a Crop & Soil Management Concentration, and a B.S. in Agribusiness. 

Stephen’s love for Purdue and research began in April of 2015 when he attended his first World Food Prize Youth Institute on campus. This experience changed his life after being named in the “Top 10” which afforded him the opportunity to travel to the Global Youth Institute (in Iowa) hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation in October 2015. He was then selected as a 2016 USDA Wallace-Carver Fellow which allowed him to participate in the Wallace-Carver Leadership Symposium in Washington D.C. and complete research during summer 2016 at the ARS National Soil Erosion Research Lab. In 2018, Stephen was chosen for the World Food Prize Board of Reviewers where he evaluated 50 student research papers. 

Since 2017, Stephen has worked with Dr. Armstrong in the soils lab working with cover crop research.  He has entered the Students of Agronomy, Soils & Environmental Sciences (SASES) National Research Symposium contest twice with this research. In 2018, he earned 8th place and then received 2nd place in 2019! 

Beyond his outstanding research, Stephen has also shined in leadership roles on campus. As a freshman, he served at the university level as the Purdue Student Government Parliamentarian and joined the National Society of Leadership and Success. As a sophomore, he and a team of peers founded the Honors Pledge Task Force and has served as the President ever since. Stephen has presented the Honors Pledge to over 6,000 undergraduate students, Purdue Deans, all academic advisors at a campus PACADA meeting, and graduate students at a Purdue Graduate Student Government session.

Since 2018, Stephen has also served on the University Community Standards Board and Purdue Student Life Advisory Council.  As a member of the Standards Board, Stephen assists the Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities (OSSR) when they evaluate the most serious student conduct cases that could result in suspension or expulsion. As a member of the Student Life Advisory Council, Stephen engages with university senior leadership to discuss student engagement topics.  Personally, he worked a great deal with student mental health services, wellness programs, and the Steps to Leaps program.

Although Stephen has been very busy at the university level, he has also been committed to serving his peers in the College of Agriculture as well! As a freshman, he became active in the Agronomy Club serving as the Plants Manager and participating on the Crops Judging Varsity Team. Since this time, he has served the Agronomy Club as Business Officer and President.  While serving as President, the Agronomy Club was named the 3rd Best Agronomy Club in the nation by SASES; an improvement from 17th the year before! Stephen also earned the 2017 2nd Place National SASES Speech Competition. Stephen has also served as a member of Purdue Agricultural Council.

As a senior, Stephen’s Purdue background in academic, research, and leadership excellence led him to being named to the 2019-20 Mortar Board Class where he serves as Calendar Co-Chair. In the position, he led and organized the creation of this year’s Mortar Board and managed the $40,000 budget to create funds for the Mortar Board Leadership Conference, Scholarships, and Fellowships.  Stephen has also enjoyed representing the university on the Purdue Club Basketball team. The team is an official collegiate basketball team that plays in the NCBBA league against other D1 university club basketball teams!

Industry has also recognized Stephen’s talent; he received the 2019 Beck’s Foundation Leadership Award and the 2018 National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Award for Academic Excellence. Last summer, Stephen interned with Corteva Agriscience: Pioneer Seeds as an Agronomy Sales Intern in Eastern IL. During summer 2018, he was a Field Biology Research Intern with BASF Crop Protection and Seeds in Champaign, IL.  During summer 2017, Stephen was a Research and Scouting Intern for Advanced Agrilytics in Indianapolis, IN. Stephen’s next step is graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to pursue an M.S. in Plant Physiology.

Stephen’s high integrity was recognized by the university when the Office of the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance chose him as the 2019 Student Recipient of the Walk-the-Talk Award. Just recently, he was asked by the Dean of Students to serve on the Purdue Student Life Alumni Board!




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