Earlier in the year I applied for Missouri Agribusiness Academy, or MAbA for short. I filled out the application over a series of days until it was deemed ready to go by my FFA advisor. After my application being judged against all of my fellow FFA members, 4-H members and fellow rural Missouri sophomores, 10 of us were picked for interviews. After a fun but intense interview, five were picked to attend MAbA. Kraysen Leonard and I were picked to be a part of the MAbA class of 2019 and let me tell you it has got to be the highlight of my summer! Thirty sophomores from across the state were brought together and toured different businesses in the agriculture industry. MAbA alternates every year between Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield; we got to tour Springfield and see what agribusinesses were right here in the Ozarks!

During our five days at MAbA we got to tour Osage Catfisheries, Primatara, Dairiconcepts, GeneX Cooperative, Inc., Hiland Dairy Foods, Joplin Regional Stockyards, George Washington Carver National Monument, Edgewood Creamery, Askinosie Chocolates, French’s R T Manufacturing, Paul Mueller Company and Hammons Field. I was able to learn so much about different areas in agriculture from fish hatcheries to race horses to bull semen sales to ice cream and cheese to the stockyards to the peanuts to Red Hot Sauce to dairy tanks to turf management and all the way to how where cocoa beans are grown can make them taste like blueberries! It was so much fun!

In addition, we also had many guest speakers, including Jamie Johansen, who told us about telling our story in agriculture and her TV show “From the Tailgate,” which features farmers and ranchers around Southwest Missouri. Jim Bellis gave us a personal tour of MSU campus and then later had us take a “true colors” personality test and helped us learn more about ourselves. Kate Lambert came and talked to us about college and what we wanted to do. Later on, Dr. Jim Spain came and talked to us about agriculture advocacy and telling the story of agriculture.

MAbA was an experience I will never forget. It was absolutely amazing getting to know other FFA members who are like-minded and want to tell the story of agriculture and meeting business leaders who were so very passionate about what they did. To any incoming junior, MAbA is something you should definitely apply for; it gives you advocacy tools and knowledge of the industry.

Schiereck is the El Dorado Springs FFA chapter president.

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