Ag Students Selected to Attend Food and Animal Institutes

February 26, 2021

Experience Designed for Networking and to Increase Leadership and Professional Skills

Nearly a dozen Wilmington College students this month learned they are eligible to attend either the 2021 AFA Food or Animal Institutes, or both, this spring.

PICTURED: Caroline Liggett and Sawyer Starrett are two of nearly a dozen agriculture students selected to attend either the AFA Food or Animal institute, or, in their case, both.

Staged annually by Agriculture Future of America (AFA), both this year’s Food Institute, May 16 to 18, and Animal Institute, April 11 to 13, will be held virtually. After successfully hosting last year’s Crop Institute online, the AFA is intent upon providing participants with outstanding programs and industry networking opportunities.

Those WC students join those selected from such large agriculture schools as Purdue, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Penn State universities. In fact, based upon those schools’ enrollments, AFA selected Wilmington students at exponentially higher rates.

Named to AFA’s Food Institute were Caroline Liggett, Sawyer Starrett, Kassie Stahl and Chyann Kendel, while the contingent of Liggett, Starrett, Abby Ruth, Grace Smith, Emily Rudd, Taylor Thomas, Trey Klein, Chase Hokey and Riley McClure were selected to attend the Animal Institute.

Starrett is a senior from Pekin, Ind., on track to graduate in December with a degree in agriculture. A veteran of previous AFA institutes, he initially was encouraged to apply based upon “amazing things” he heard from his professors and previous WC attendees. Indeed, Dr. Monte Anderson, professor of agriculture, said the AFA experience would help him achieve his “full potential” as an agriculture major.

“I have grown in knowledge as a young ag professional and received support to help me gain confidence in new areas,” he said. Starrett also believes attending WC offers students advantages over agriculture majors at large universities.

“Small class size and developing personal relationships with your professors here at Wilmington really sets us apart from other schools,” he said.  “I also think the way we present ourselves at events like this makes a difference as well. We work together closely, as a family, and when we show up to these events with a large, excited, knowledgeable team of students, it really makes a statement as to what we are accomplishing at WC.”

Liggett also was selected to attend both institutes. She is a junior from Johnstown majoring in agriculture business and policy.

She sees the AFA institutes as “an amazing opportunity to grow as a leader” in the agricultural industry, Also, no stranger to taking advantage of professional development activities, Liggett recognizes her participation in previous AFA conferences and institutes has helped her “to gain stronger leadership and professional skills, create connections with agricultural companies and be further immersed in the industry.”

Liggett finds it interesting to interact with students from the large agriculture schools and compare the opportunities she is receiving at a small school with a hallmark for personal attention and experiential learning.

“I feel that Wilmington stands out because our students have hands-on experiences that are a unique aspect of our education,” she said, adding that WC’s smaller class size, along with the professional and personal relationships developed with faculty and staff, are key elements to student success at the College. “We are fortunate that our Agriculture Department has such strong connections to the agricultural industry.”

AFA’s mission is to build bridges for young leaders to foster engagement and innovation in food and agriculture.