Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 9: Agriculture Future of America Conference

This year I have gotten the privilege to be sponsored to attend what is called Agriculture Future of America Leadership Conference 2013.  I will honestly say that this has been one of the best experiences of my life.  I have never been engulfed in such an enthusiastic and driven environment of young people who want our industry to continue growing and thriving today and into the future. 

This organization, AFA, places students into one of four different tracks based on years in school.  Within the individual tracks, different speakers and panels are brought in so that, per track, students can be connected with resources and information related to them and their current state of growth.  Some of the sessions my group got to enjoy included one on time and life management, and a panel on internships, a panel on issues in agriculture and consumer education.  These were all quite beneficial to my life at this point, so I really appreciated it. 

AFA is an organization closely tied with industry partners.  Why?  The earlier students begin interacting and networking with industry professionals, the more experience they will gain with this type of interaction, and the better equipped they will be to later succeed as interns and/or employees.  I will say that personally, these sorts of interactions have me on a first name basis with one of Monsanto's head recruiters, to name one example.  I'm a freshman, mind you.  This man has given me the opportunity to make connections with successful local people that he feels may be able to assist with my later success in life.  Purdue and AFA are just two organizations which have taught me the true value of building a solid network of people from all areas of the world early on.  You never know who in your network may have a connection in their own network that could forever change your life. 

Much of what I have written about today has been very serious, but I must say that I have had an absolute BLAST!  Those of you that follow me on Twitter ( @ebenkamp2013 ) have noticed that I learned a lot.  This gave me a chance to make friends from across the country!  Missouri, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Michigan, and Nebraska, name just a few places these great people call home.  I don't know how yet, but at some point, these people may be fellow employees, clients, or a plethora of other types of connections for life. 

Saturday was a busy day which we followed with a trip to the College Basketball Experience, where we had burgers, then packed 32,400 meals to be sent overseas through a company called Numana, and then we danced.  I learned how to both swing and line dance.  (Yes, I'm from a rural area of southern Indiana and didn't know how to swing or line dance).  The power of working with a group and bonding is amazing! 

Here's my "Hat's Off!" to AFA!  Please check out Agriculture Future of America's webpage, Facebook, or Twitter.  If it were not for them, I would never have met countless amazing people, companies, and learned skills like resume improvement and swing dancing.  I hope to return next year and continue working with such phenomenal people.  We can change the world.  Together.

Thanks for continuing to read.  Again, I know I'm pretty behind, but with homework and this conference, I know you understand. 

Oh, and I never mentioned that I got to meet someone I watch to every week on TV, and whose memoir I own, Orion Samuelson.  I can honestly say this, and the speech given by Dr. Temple Grandin of Colorado State University were two other high points of the weekend I seem to have missed!

Link to other 30 Days blogs here.

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