Fourteen students enrolled in ALEC 380 traveled nearly 4,000 miles in October representing Texas A&M University.
The class traveled across 12 states and visited agricultural operations that represented various sectors in agricultural leadership, education and communications on the way to and from the 90th Annual National FFA Convention.
Along the way, students toured and met with representatives from Buck Cattle Company, Geisert Farms, Anheuser-Busch, John Deere, Fair Oaks Farms, Grand Ole Opry, CNN and Growing Leaders. In addition to formal tours, students also had the chance to walk through the St. Louis Zoo, see the famous St. Louis Arch, tour downtown Chicago, visit “Music City” in Nashville and explore downtown Atlanta.
Zane Sheehan, graduate teaching assistant in agricultural science, said the greatest value for students participating in the ALEC 380 course was to experience agriculture in other parts of the country. Witnessing students walk through large cities like Chicago and Atlanta for the first time was exciting to experience, Sheehan said.
“As great as Texas agriculture is, if we only ever see agriculture in-state, it is like reading the same page of a book over and over again,” Sheehan said. “Seeing other parts of the country and world deepen our appreciation for the industry, both at home and away.”
Sam Douge, ALEC 380 student and agricultural science freshman, said the class experienced a broad spectrum of businesses and companies that broadened her perspective of the industry. It was helpful for the class to listen to different business representatives discuss what they do and determine how they relate to agricultural leadership, communications and education, Douge said.
In addition to touring different businesses and companies, the class also helped coordinate career development events at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Annemarie Mohn, ALEC 380 student and agricultural science senior, said helping with the different FFA contests better prepared her for her future career as an agricultural educator. Understanding how each contest is run at the national level gave the class members who are hopeful future educators a leg up in one day preparing students to compete at that level, Mohn said.
“[ALEC 380] is an awesome event and trip that allowed us to strengthen individual professional development, work in groups, and get along in cramped spaces,” Mohn said. “I want to thank our supporters for the opportunity to be involved with an incredible organization, such as FFA, and go on a trip like this.”