CALS selected for student leadership training opportunity

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The University of Arizona's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has been chosen for Agriculture Future of America's University Growth Initiative.

"We are excited to welcome students from the University of Arizona into our professional development programs," said Russ Weathers, AFA president and CEO. "Their unique perspectives will add to the depth of discussion and engagement in our program environment."

Since 1997, AFA has provided scholarships and leader training to collegiate students pursuing careers in agriculture. AFA's anchor personal and professional development event is AFA Leaders Conference. Held each year in Kansas City, Mo., this program draws over 500 top agriculture students from across the nation.

The University Growth initiative, supported by Monsanto Company, annually gives three new colleges and universities the opportunity to enter their top student leaders into AFA leader development programs and broadens AFA's base of participating schools.

Ryan Foor, assistant professor of agricultural education, said he believes this will be a good opportunity to expose University of Arizona students to agriculture in different sectors of the United States.

"Students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences need experiences outside our college and university to enhance their employability skills, as well as to extend their professional network beyond Arizona and the American Southwest," Foor said. "We believe participation in AFA programs, like the AFA Leaders Conference will enhance students' experiences."

As a 2013 University Growth Initiative school, the University of Arizona has received funding to send three students and a member of the CALS administration to the 2013 AFA Leaders Conference, Nov. 7-10 in Kansas City, Mo.

The conference program focuses on soft skill development to complement what is provided on campus and in the classroom.

"The Agriculture Future of America mission and program align well with our CALS strategic goal to produce employable graduates, particularly through the AFA Leaders Conference," Foor said. "We believe our student participants will be provided with advanced employability skills they can bring back to the college."

AFA Leaders Conference offers four different learning opportunities. Track 1 focuses on industry and self-assessment and assists freshman students with developing fundamental soft skills crucial for success in college and their careers. Track 2 equips sophomores with communication skills. Track 3 prepares juniors and seniors to live and work in a global market and manage change. Track 4 is a capstone experience for seniors and includes extensive executive mentoring opportunities.

The AFA Opportunity Fair, held in conjunction with the conference, connects students to internship, job, study abroad and graduate school opportunities.

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