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The AGgregator

From the Field: AFA Leaders Conference

This week, Agriculture Future of America (AFA) will welcome hundreds of college men and women from across the nation to the Leaders Conference in Kansas City, Mo. In this guest blog post, Blake Stowers, an AFA alum and current Financial Services Officer at Farm Credit Mid-America shares the highlights of his AFA experience.

While studying at Purdue University, I was presented with an opportunity to attend the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference. I knew very little about the organization or the event; I was told that someone in the industry was interested in sponsoring me so I could attend. Someone, somewhere, in an agricultural company saw value in the conference and what it would mean to my development as a future leader in the industry. It didn't take me long to decide — I was in.

In 2009 I attended the conference as a Track 2 participant. I had the opportunity to be around like-minded students and hear the message that we are the future of agriculture. We weren’t there to learn how to be leaders; all 500 participants were already leaders on their respective campuses. Instead, the goal of the conference was to show us how to apply the skills we already had, help sharpen others and make us more successful as leaders in the industry and on our campuses.

I returned the next year in 2010 as a Track 3 participant and was again blown away. In Track 3 we were prepped to step out into a global work place. Completing this final track was the end of the journey for me as an undergrad — unless I wanted to come back my senior year in a leadership role. I decided that was exactly what I needed to do. I applied for the Student Advisory Team and was selected along with eight others ranging geographically from the East to West Coast. Our task would be to help plan and direct the conference and help build and maintain relationships with industry partners, including Farm Credit.

When I was selected for the team I really didn’t know what the opportunity would mean for me. Before we began meeting, I decided to take an internship with Farm Credit Mid-America, with the hopes of an offer of a full-time position once I graduated. Soon after, the Student Advisory Team was asked to read the book Fish by Stephen Lundin, and analyze the company culture of our current internship. After having the opportunity to really look at the organization from the prospective of the book, I knew that Farm Credit had what I wanted in a company culture. I wanted to be a part of an organization that exhibited what I read in the book, and also one that believed in developing future leaders and was as passionate about the future of agriculture as I was and still am.

Farm Credit is a sponsor of AFA and truly believes in the mission of the organization. Farm Credit may not have been responsible for introducing me to AFA, but it was because of the connection between the two organizations that I realized what was important to me in a career, and Farm Credit Mid-America was, and still is, my choice.