AFA sends student leaders to Kansas conference

Leilani Leach Evergreen reporter

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Three students will be the first Cougs sent to the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference this fall.

AFA selects up to three new University Growth Initiative colleges each year and sends students and administrators to a four-day conference in Kansas City, Mont. Participants learn about the agriculture industry from professionals and network with other students interested in the field.

Katie Nickels, internship coordinator for the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resources Sciences, said the program complements the college’s leadership programs.

“The student mentoring philosophies of CAHNRS and AFA align very well, and our like-minded commitment to the advancement of agriculture through the development of the next generation of leaders in the industry makes this an ideal partnership,” Nickels said in a press release.

Students follow one of four tracks at the conference depending on class standing. Freshmen focus on self-assessment, sophomores emphasize communication and juniors study the global market, said AFA program coordinator Derek Mulhern.

Track 4, for seniors, emphasizes lifelong learning and mentoring opportunities, and is only available to those who have completed Track 3. Seniors who wish to join the program can start Track 3, Mulhern said.

Students interested in applying don’t necessarily have to be studying agriculture, he said.

“It doesn’t mean a student going for a biology major and pursuing a career in agriculture wouldn’t be looked at,” Mulhern said.

He said the AFA considers several factors when choosing universities to sponsor for the conference, such as diversity and the ability to get students involved in leadership.

“We’re excited to build a continuing relationship with WSU,” Mulhern said.

More than 500 students nationwide attend the conference each year, which will be held from Nov. 7 – 10. Interested students can apply through Wednesday at