MediaHub_Group1_SmallSUNY Cobleskill was proud to send five students to the Agriculture Future of America Leaders Conference; a three-day seminar initiating partnerships that identify, encourage and support outstanding college men and women preparing for careers in the agriculture and food industry. The event, which occurred from November 5-8, in Kansas City, MO, allows industry professionals to personally select the most outstanding agricultural students in the country to attend.

“Agriculture Future of America is not a leadership development initiative – instead, it is an organization for leaders,” explains Dr. Jason Evans, Associate Professor of Agricultural Business at SUNY Cobleskill. “Each year, the top agricultural students in the country are selected to attend and the opportunities there to interface with some of the most important agricultural businesses and leaders in the country are extensive and invaluable. I am incredibly proud that several SUNY Cobleskill students are selected each year to receive industry sponsorships.”

SUNY Cobleskill students Nicole Avery, an Agricultural Business Management senior; Amanda Rhodes, a senior in Biotechnology; Pierce Randall, an Agricultural Engineering senior; Daniel Dzen, an Agricultural Business Management freshman, and Adam Gokey, an Agricultural Business Management sophomore, were selected to attend this year. At the conference, students are placed in a tracks, or levels which provide them with opportunities to advance their skill sets based on their academic year.

Daniel Dzen described, “I was placed in Track 1, which focuses a lot on self-assessment, resume and interview skills, professional etiquette in dining, creative bootcamp. Essentially, a good amount of our time was spent getting motivated and learning what is expected of a young professional.”

As a second year student, Adam Gokey was placed in situations which emphasized building solid communication skills. “I was part of a track which focusedMediaHub_Group2_small on communication. I attended sessions on written and oral communication, giving presentations, reading body language, properly using social media, personal morals and personal finance. I had a great experience.”

The impact the Agriculture Future of America Conference has had on SUNY Cobleskill students has not only influenced their own personal and professional lives, but it has influenced campus life. “After my first year attending the Agriculture Future Leaders Conference, my two friends and I who attended the conference returned to SUNY Cobleskill and started the AG Council on campus, which initiated SWAG Week,” said Nicole Avery. “I am proud to say that SWAG week is now in its third year of planning and onto becoming a campus tradition.”

Developing strong connections with companies and fellow peers, acquiring relevant and essential professional skills and building confidence are just some of the reasons why each student attended the 2014 Agriculture Future of American Conference.

“The connections that are made at the conference really do carry on with us throughout our careers,” said Amanda Rhodes. “I would definitely suggest this experience to other students and I hope they will think about applying; these are great opportunities to learn more about a field and your passions as well as make great connections across the country.”

Reaffirming Rhodes’ sentiments, Pierce Randall stated, “The Agriculture Future of American Leadership Conference brings the best of the best to discuss the challenges that our industry will face in the coming years. Many of the top companies in the world are searching for young men and women to help them push forward as the business climate continues to change, and they realize that the top of these students are represented at the AFA Leaders Conference. I believe that many Cobleskill students would really benefit from this kind of experience and it’s a great opportunity to grow and get your foot in the door with well-established companies.”

*Photo Caption: Daniel Dzen, Nicole Avery, Adam Gokey, Amanda Rhodes and Pierce Randall attend the 2014 Agriculture Future of America Conference.