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AFA Animal Institute Wrap-Up- FROM DRIVE

Author: Kristy

May 7, 2014 Posted By Marissa Tankersley In Articles, Careers/Education

A look into the animal industry

If you travel west along Interstate 70 from Columbia, Mo., to Manhattan, Kan., you will encounter the highest concentration of animal health and related companies in the world. Dubbed the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, this area is home to a wide variety of companies from pharmaceutical names such as Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Merck Animal Health and Ceva to associations like the American Hereford and American Angus. It also boasts nutritional innovators such as Cargill Animal Health and BioZyme, maker of VitaFerm and Sure Champ.

The opportunities in this area are endless, which is why it is also home to the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Animal Institute. AFA, a leader and professional development organization, currently offers three of these Leader Institutes to expose college students to the breadth of agriculture. The AFA Animal Institute gives selected delegates the opportunity to network with industry leaders, tour area businesses and participate in professional development opportunities.

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Networking

“My experience at the AFA Animal Institute was phenomenal. I was able to meet with industry professionals, reconnect with friends I made here last year and spend some time with other students and strengthen our bond through agriculture,” says Katie O’Brien, who attended the 2014 AFA Animal Institute, April 6-9. O’Brien studies animal science at Michigan State University.

O’Brien and the 72 other delegates were selected through a competitive application process based on their talent and commitment to pursuing careers in agriculture. This process ensures meaningful peer interactions as well as industry networking opportunities.

“I really enjoyed being able to communicate with other people who are interested in the same things that I am, specifically agriculture,” says Ben Sims, who studies animal science at the College of the Ozarks.

Experience

The delegates kicked off their experience with a panel of area animal health executives before dividing into six tour groups. Each tour group visited an association, pharmaceutical company, a marketing agency and a nutritional company.

“We toured many places, and got the full experience ­— what it takes to get from the feed yard to the table,” says Jared Wellik, who studies agricultural sciences at Iowa State University.

AFA believes in exposing students to a wide variety of companies so they have a better understanding of where they fit in the broader picture.

“In agriculture, you have to have passion for your specific field, but you also need to be able to have a complete understanding of agriculture in general,” Sims says.

By attending an AFA Leader Institute, delegates gain access to people and places they may not be able to alone. While still responsible for their travel, students’ lodging and meals are covered while at the event.

“I got to come to Kansas City for a few days and learn a lot of information and spend time with people that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to,” says Anna Leigh Peek, who studies agricultural communications and journalism at Auburn University.

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