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January 9, 2023
Flashback to November 2019. I was a freshman, still new at Purdue University, at my first-ever Agriculture Future of America Leaders Conference in Kansas City, ready to prove myself to the world. But as I walked into the hotel where the conference was hosted, I found myself face-to-face with one of the most intimidating experiences of my life. The beautiful hotel was buzzing with nearly 1,000 students and professionals who you knew had a firm understanding of where they were headed in life. I immediately felt out of place.
But as I sat down at a table for the first session, I was greeted by a group of girls from North Carolina. Within the first minute, we were chatting about the crisis of public perception of agriculture, ag policy and other topics we would not normally discuss with people on our campuses.
Not only had my first conversation been meaningful and impactful, but I also had been immediately welcomed into the environment, and treated as an equal and professional with important thoughts and ideas.
This trend of meaningful conversations continued through the entire four-day conference as I connected with far more industry professionals than I had ever considered meeting before graduation, and extremely bright-minded college students from across the nation.
By my junior year at Purdue, I was so invested in AFA that I accepted a position as a student adviser to help plan and facilitate the experiences I had become so fond of. Helping plan and host the same experiences that had been so transformational for me three years before was incredibly rewarding. I will forever be grateful for the friendships I have made and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
If you are a college student in agriculture, food or natural resources, or if you know one, I highly suggest participating in one of AFA’s programs. To say that it changed my life may sound dramatic, but for me and thousands of people across the country, it is the truth. If you’re ready to make an impact in agriculture, this organization is the first place you should look.
Harrod is a senior in ag communication at Purdue University and a member of AFA.
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