National Collegiate Agricultural Ambassador Team

Twenty college students from across the nation were chosen to serve on the 2013-14 National Collegiate Agricultural Ambassador team:

Click on each agricultural ambassador's name to learn more about the team.

2013-2014 Ambassador Team

James Barringer University of Florida

Age: 21

Hometown: New Smyrna Beach, FL

Major: Agricultural Education and Communications with a specialization in Communication and Leadership Development

Brief description of your background.
Coming from a small beach town on the east coast of Florida, it’s safe to say I am not your traditional agriculturalist. I joined the National FFA Organization in the 6th grade, and from that moment I set sail on an adventure of advocating agriculture. Currently I am a junior at the University of Florida, Go Gators! I am a proud member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, and an active student leader in many facets across campus.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
I chose to serve as an Ambassador to promote and protect American agriculture. Being an ambassador provides a platform to inform that agriculture encompasses food, fiber, and natural resources.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
Coming from a non-traditional agricultural background I have a unique opportunity to promote our industry to a diverse audience. It is important to me that consumers are educated on where their food comes from, and give them the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions in grocery stores.

What are your personal career goals?
Upon graduation for the University of Florida I plan on attending law school with a focus on agricultural law.

Sara Colombe South Dakota State University

Age: 22

Hometown: Little Falls, Minnesota

Major: Agricultural Education with a minor in Leadership and Management for Non-Profit Organizations

Brief description of your background.
My family raises 30 beef cows and I am fifth generation beef farmer. My family has been raising cattle since 1905. My family also raises broiler chickens for Goldn’ Plump. By becoming involved with my local Cattlemen’s Association, I became interested to promote and educate others about the beef community. Today I am a member of Minnesota CattleWomen’s Association and American National CattleWomen’s Association. I am also a speaker on the National Beef Speakers Bureau and I share my beef story to consumers and youth.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
I choose to serve as an Ag Ambassador because I want to be a face for agriculture for the public. The public is often not educated about agriculture because they do not know who to ask when they have questions about agriculture. I want to be one of the many resources for the public to get their agriculture questions answered.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
It is important for me to advocate and educate the public about agriculture because the public is becoming less connected to where their food, fiber, and fuel comes from. If the public has a question regarding agriculture they use the internet or social media to find their answer. This sometimes leads the viewer to inaccurate information about agriculture. I am very passionate to educate the public and provide them with the accurate information about agriculture.

What are your personal career goals?
After graduation I will be able to teach 7th-12th graders in a variety of topics. I am also interested in pursuing a career in a cattle association on a local, state, or national level to develop education materials or working the association’s youth programs. I will continue to be an advocate for agriculture so I can provide consumers with accurate information about the agriculture community.

Jacob Dickey University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Age: 20

Major: Agricultural Education & Atmospheric Science

Brief description of your background
-  First generation removed from family farm (back to civil war times)
-  Never had much agricultural background till high school
-  Freshman Year; joined the FFA and fell in love with agriculture education
-  Currently have a hobby farm, sell produce at local farmers market
-  Passionate about agriculture, want to get back involved in production agriculture

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
The agricultural industry is the single most important component of our economy as well as in my life. It has molded and inspired me into who I am today, and I want to share the message of agriculture with people of all ages. Being an Ag Ambassador gives me the chance to share not only my story, but also the story of thousands of families around the world and what they are doing to produce safe and abundant food that will feed the world.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
As we face an ever-so agriculturally-disenfranchised population, consumer awareness about agriculture is on the downslide. As a result, agriculture has become a target of much misinformation and many misunderstandings, leading to undeserved damage to the agricultural community. Sharing the true message about agriculture and educating the public on how agriculture is truly trying to be sustainable, all while working hard to feed a growing population. If we can successfully raise awareness on the truth about agriculture, we can ensure the security of the agricultural community for generations to come and its ability to solve many global crises we face today.

What are your personal career goals?
I hope to one day be an agricultural instructor at a middle/high school where I can inspire confidence in students and push them towards an agricultural career. I also want to continue to grow my hobby farm from the small plot it is now into a much larger operations that is able to provide fresh produce to the local community. In addition, I am passionate about public service and plan to pursue additional opportunities in government, whether it is at the local, state or national level.

Cara Fordyce Northwest Missouri State University

Age: 20

Major: Agriculture Business with a minor in Animal Science

Brief description of your background
I have lived on our family farm my whole life and have loved every minute of it! We have raised cattle, sheep, goats, miniature ponies, chickens and quarter horses. I have rode horses my whole life and love giving riding lessons along with competing in 4-H/FFA horse shows and in rodeo events. Currently our family has row crop, and still raises and sells quarter horses. I have had a passion for agriculture since I could walk. Occasionally people ask me why agriculture I simply reply that I like surviving and couldn’t think of a better industry to fight for than Agriculture.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
I wish to serve a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador for many reasons. One being that I love agriculture, so what better affiliation to be involved with than one that has a team of individuals who have a passion for agriculture. I believe I am a good presenter, and with this opportunity I will not only strengthen my presentation skills but spread the knowledge of agriculture while doing so. Besides the fact that I love agriculture, and want to learn ways to be a stronger presenter, I also took part of this great opportunity to meet others, and learn about their agriculture background. I am very excited I got this opportunity and am having a great time being an Advocate through the National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador program.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
It’s important so they know what all the agricultural industry has to offer them. I am truly surprised on the amount of people that don’t know where their simplest food comes from. For everyone that is involved in the agriculture industry it’s our job to teach people just what all agriculture is about, all while staying patient with them. We especially need to advocate to the folks that haven’t had access to the farm and younger students so they know the truth and not the commonly misconstrued myths that are spread about our industry through certain organizations. We live in a time where the agriculture industry faces some issues and with the help of everyone spreading what agriculture is about we will not only succeed but become more successful than ever. Nothing gives me a better feeling than teaching others about agriculture and seeing their eyes light up when it all connects.

What are your personal career goals?
My personal goals are to graduate with my bachelors in Agriculture Business, then find a job working with an agriculture company and continue onto earning a MBA with emphasis in agriculture economics. As for the end result I’m not a hundred percent sure what I want to do and I am okay with that for now. As Carl Lewis once said, “Sometimes it’s all about the journey, not the outcome.” As long as I keep pushing myself to be a better me, all while reaching others and teaching them about agriculture I’m positive my destination will be a great one.

Beverly Hampton North Carolina State University

Age: 19

Major: Poultry Science

Brief description of your background
I am blessed in the fact that I grew up in an extremely unique situation. My parents own a agritourism business, a drive-thru exotic animal park which they opened two months before I was born. This has allowed me to learn about God’s creatures from all around the world as well as share with the general public. In middle school I began showing market lambs which developed into raising and showing commercial market sheep and goats. Currently, I am a junior at North Carolina State University studying poultry science.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
I believe everyone has a place to serve and representing the agricultural industry is mine. I love the industry and strongly believe in promoting it to the best of my ability. I want to take the opportunity to share my knowledge and help others understand just how detrimental agriculture is to a prosperous world.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
As the gap between consumers and producers continues to widen, the general public’s view of agriculture has change dramatically in the last 100 years. In order to make sure that the general public understand how their food is grown and the trip it makes from the field to the plate we must continually advocate for agriculture now more than ever.

What are your personal career goals?
I am not 100 percent sure what role I will have in the industry however possible careers I foresee include being a large animal veterinarian or working with the general public to help close the communication and informational gap between consumers and producers. I want to make a positive impact on the agriculture industry in turn making a positive impact on all living beings.

Jade Halliburton Southern Arkansas University – Magnolia, AR

Age: 19

Hometown: Crossett, AR

Major: Agriculture Education – Minoring in Mass Communication

Brief description of your background
Well, it’s a little exotic.

I was born in South Louisiana and spent my early childhood at the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, LA. My mother is a zoologist, so, for the longest time I assumed changing monkey diapers, waking up at all hours of the night to feed bear cubs, and delivering zebu or giraffe calves was a normal part of every kid’s life. After moving to Arkansas, my mother became director of one of two zoos in the state. Needless to say, I’ve never lived on anything but the wild side of life.

I have shown livestock since the age of seven and competed in everything: rabbits, poultry, goats, lambs, swine, and cattle. However, I must say my cattle projects and swine projects hold an extra special place in my heart. After joining FFA in junior high I competed in Creed Speaking, Prepared Public Speaking, Livestock Judging, and Farm Business Management. I went on to serve as my chapter’s President for three consecutive years and I cherish every moment.

Nowadays, “Home” is the SAU Agriculture Department, and I love all of the opportunities that have been laid before me like taking part in running the Arkansas State Fair Livestock Show and facilitating/judging Career Development Events.

Me in a nutshell: I cherish today, but can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
“My grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, and a preacher but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.”

It’s time more people know that. It’s time more people feel this way and understand the dire importance of our industry. I want a part in spreading the message Agriculture has to share. What better way than as an Agriculture Ambassador!

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about agriculture?
Many of those who are reading this may already know the facts. The staggering statistics that insist we will have to more than double food supply on less land in coming years.

Yet, all facts and statistics aside… There is widespread misconception about agriculture in the general population. Many don’t know where their food comes from or how much work goes in to stocking our shelves. Even more so than that, many don’t consider what goes into the production of clothes, textiles, or even pharmaceuticals. Without agriculture, these resources would become near obsolete. When agriculturalists are facing new and more difficult issues every day, it is more important than ever to fight our worst enemy: ignorance.

What are your personal career goals?
After obtaining my undergraduate degree, I would like to obtain my masters in Agriculture Communications. In future years I see myself in the Public Relations/Communications department of a youth and/or agriculturally based organization or company. As long as I find a career that will challenge me creatively and allow me to work with people, I feel that I will never work a day in my life.

Janae Herr Pennsylvania State University

Age: 19

Hometown: Lancaster, PA

Major: Agricultural and Extension Education

Brief description of your background
Born and raised, I am a true-blue, home grown farmer’s daughter. Coming from a small dairy farm accompanied with broiler chickens, various row crops including tobacco the farm is undoubtedly where I began to cultivate my passion for the Agricultural Industry. Active in my local 4-H livestock clubs and my FFA Chapter it didn’t take long for me to decide I wanted to pursue a career in Agricultural Education. Outside of my Agricultural activities I serve in my church’s children’s ministry as a Sunday school teacher and a small group leader. I am also employed at a local Case IH tractor dealership where I enjoy the challenge of being a parts consultant.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
I am constantly looking for opportunities to embrace professional development, networking and experiences to learn more about an industry that I am passionately pursuing the future of. What better opportunity to do so than with a team of individuals who share the same passion.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about agriculture?
It’s simple. Agriculture is essential for life; therefore we have a precious story to tell. A story that needs a positive light shone on it.

What are your personal career goals?
I long to empower students by being a positive agent of change through Agricultural Education in a secondary classroom. I want to cultivate a passion for agriculture, not only in my future students but those I encounter on a daily basis.

Katie Johnson Iowa State University

Age: 19

Hometown: Okoboji, Iowa

Major: Agricultural Communications and Agronomy minor

Brief description of your background
I was born and raised in Northwest Iowa and graduated from Okoboji High School. I lived on a feedlot operation farm and worked on a Christmas tree farm giving me experience with cattle, horses, greenhouses and gardening. After being being heavily involved with FFA and 4-H, as well as speech and debate in high school, I chose Iowa State to study a major that uses both my skills and interests.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
I would love the opportunity to give presentations to people from all kinds of different backgrounds on how important agriculture is. I also think it is a great way to improve leadership and presentation skills and give back to the industry that gives so much to us.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
I love the opportunities I have been given that have stemmed from the agriculture industry. I can’t think of any cause worth advocating for more than the very thing that puts food on our plates each day. I know that more and more people are getting less knowledgeable about agriculture and its place in everyday life. The biggest threat to American agriculture is the lack of knowledge and susceptibility to misconceptions presented by the media.

What are your personal career goals?
I would love a job that allows me to use my skills in public speaking as well as my passion for all things agriculture. Right now I am thinking of some sort of a public relations position for a company within the industry.

Carolyn Lawrence Wilson College

Age: 23

Hometown: Lancaster, PA

Major: Veterinary Medical Technology

Brief description of your background
I have grown up on a family dairy farm my whole life and have fallen in love with Agriculture. I joined FFA freshman year in high school, not knowing the once in a life time experiences the FFA has to offer. I was very active in 4-H and FFA and now volunteer and help ensure youth have the same opportunities I was able to experience.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
Growing up on a farm has made me become very passionate about promoting Agriculture. I have always enjoyed answering the public’s questions about my animals at local fairs. I have experienced the misconceptions people have with Agriculture at college with other students and even some professors when they have made incorrect statements about agriculture. It is difficult to hear the negative and often false things people say about Agriculture because I know firsthand the long hours, sweat, and hard work that goes into it. It motivates me to want to do more to help promote agriculture and I know as an Ag Ambassador I would have the unique opportunity to open people’s minds and dispel myths.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
Education is the key to helping people to understand more about Agriculture and working to eradicate the misconceptions there are within consumers. Since fewer and fewer of the population is becoming directly involved in agriculture, there is a disconnection between the farmer and the consumer. I feel it is very important for us to share our story about Agriculture with false negative information being shared over the internet; the consumer needs to know the true story.

What are your personal career goals?
After completing my Bachelor’s Degree at Wilson College, I plan to obtain my Licenses as a Veterinary Technician. I would love to travel within the US and out of the country, experiencing the different types of Agriculture. I plan to be involved in promoting Agriculture and continue to help youth in organizations such as 4-H and FFA. Continuing in production Agriculture is also one of my goals because animals have always been part of my life.

Katharine Nye Utah State University

Age: 21

Major: Agricultural Communications, emphasis Dairy Science

Brief description of your background
When I was three years old, my family moved 400 dairy cows from Connecticut to Delta, Utah. Since then, we’ve grown to a herd of 3,000 milking Holsteins. I grew up active in 4-H and FFA, and have built up my own herd of registered Holstein dairy cattle to 53 head. I served as Utah’s State FFA Secretary 2010-2011 and continue to be active in FFA both on the state and national level.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
Serving as an Ag Ambassador provides the perfect platform for me to share my passion and my story about agriculture. I like that it’s a structured program that provides training for young agriculturists to advocate for our industry, as well as a support network of fellow ambassadors to share ideas, resources and concerns with.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
As a 5th-generation dairy farmer, sharing my story about my industry and educating the public about what my family does is not only a personal passion, but my responsibility. My philosophy is, if I’m not sharing my story, someone else is, and I might not like the way they choose to portray me, my family or my industry. It’s my duty to share with customers that the food my family produces for their family is the safest, least expensive and most abundant food on the planet.

What are your personal career goals?
I plan to pursue a career in agriculture policy, as well as returning to my family dairy farm to dairy with my two older brothers. I want to be a part of my family’s agriculture legacy, and I also believe that the people shaping policy for agriculture should be from agriculture, not just career politicians. As President Eisenhower said, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field.”

Justice Plummer North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Age: 19

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Major: Agribusiness

Brief description of your background
I grew up in Chicago and throughout the Chicagoland area. Prior to attending my high school, my knowledge on agriculture was limited. However, going to the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences changed my perspective on the industry and got me really interested in joining it. I spent the next four years expanding my knowledge on AG by actively participating in class, being a part of the FFA (member and officer for 4 years), and completing job shadows/jobs related to the industry. My experiences in high school influenced me to pick agriculture as a major for college.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
I enjoy public speaking, both extemporaneous and prepared. I also am really passion about agriculture and getting people from untraditional backgrounds involved in it. When this opportunity was presented to me by my Collegiate FFA advisor, I immediately knew I needed to take it.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
It is important for me to advocate and educate the public about agriculture, because I have firsthand experience about how learning about this industry can really change your perspective. I too at first stuck to the stereotypical views of AG, but once I was actually educated about it, I had a change of heart. However, my change of heart would not have come, if I did not have teachers who made the industry, while presenting about it, relatable, innovative, and cool. Now I want to share my experiences with others and inspire them to take an active interest in this industry. On the same note, I too understand that in order to do this I must present it to them as my teachers presented it to me; as something that is relatable, innovative, and cool or in order words, pop culture relevant.

What are your personal career goals?
I would like to graduate from college and then attend graduate school. In addition to that, I would like to join the Peace Corps and volunteer in their Agribusiness sector. After obtaining my masters and volunteering with the Peace Corps, I want to own and operate my own business. I do not have an exact business idea yet, but it would be rooted in agriculture, education, and public service. Additionally, I would like to freelance for a newspaper, magazine, or blog and to possibly publish a book.

Karoline Rose Montana State University, Bozeman Montana

Age: 21

Hometown: Three Forks, MT

Major: Animal Science-Livestock Production

Brief description of your background
I grew up in a small town in Montana. My father is a cattle buyer and we always seemed to have bottle calves and lambs around when I was little. My passion for agriculture developed through 4-H where I was involved with the lamb and steer project. Agriculture was and is a way of life for my family and still to this day there is nothing better than going home.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
I love people, agriculture and sharing my lifestyle. I love agvocating and felt as if this was the best opportunity to share the story of agriculture with consumers. FFA is a fantastic organization and I was unable to be a member during high school because we didn't have an ag teacher so I wanted to learn how to share the ag story from the best organization possible.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
We need to feed the world and in order to be successful, producers and consumers must work together and we have to understand each other. Words are powerful so if we can educate the public then can help be our voice.

What are your personal career goals?
In the future I hope I can combine my love for people and agriculture by working in the communication field. Whether that be writing, speaking or holding workshops, I want to share my knowledge with others. I hope I can live close enough to my dad to remain an active part of Rose Cattle Company and maintain my Angus herd.

Courtney Spencer University of Missouri - Columbia

Age: 20

Hometown: Aurora, MO

Major: Animal Science

Brief description of your background
I live on a small beef operation with my dad, mom, and younger brother in Aurora, Missouri. We have been raising and showing registered Gelbvieh and Balancer cattle for 13 years. Showing cattle has been a passion of mine since I could walk and has led me to develop a deep appreciation for the beef industry. Growing up I was heavily involved in my local 4-H club and was quick to join FFA when entering high school. Through these organizations I uncovered my passion for judging livestock, which led me to many opportunities to travel and judge in multiple national contests and eventually the Royal Highlands Show in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
My main motivation in serving as a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador comes from my passion for agriculture and my desire to make a difference. The agriculture industry has provided me a positive atmosphere for personal growth and my passion for the industry has helped me to set goals for my future. While I have seen the benefits of agriculture in my life, I know that it is not the same for everyone. It is my hope that I can communicate to others the relevance and importance of agriculture in their everyday life. By doing so, I can give back to an industry that has provided much influence and direction in my life and help to move the industry in a positive direction.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
While agriculture is the backbone of America, only two percent of the population is currently involved in the industry. This combined with a large generational gap of agriculturist leads to a huge increase in the need to advocate for the agriculture industry. Today’s society is generations removed from the family farm, which means that those of us still involved in the industry need to step up and communicate the benefits of the agriculture industry and the importance of modern agriculture practices.

What are your personal career goals?
In the future I hope to work directly with livestock producers to influence and promote the future of the animal agriculture industry. I also plan to remain a positive voice and advocate for the agriculture industry.

Elise Stoddard University of Florida

Age: 21

Hometown: New Smyrna Beach, FL

Major: Agriculture Education and Communications

Brief description of your background
Born and raised in a coastal community of central Florida, I grew up much removed from production agriculture. However, after being introduced to the National FFA Organization in 7th grade I knew that I wanted to be involved in the industry in any way that I could. I graduated from New Smyrna Beach High School in 2010 and served as a Florida State FFA officer in 2011-2012. I am currently a full time student.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
I choose to serve as an Ag Ambassador because this program serves as an opportunity to not only educate and advocate on behalf of the only industry that sustains our world’s basic needs, but also to develop myself as an effective communicator and grow professionally.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
It is extremely important to advocate for our industry from a political standpoint, because more and more of our elected officials are from urban and suburban areas. Many legislators lack knowledge of our industry. It is important to educate the public about agriculture because society has a right to know! Everyone should be able to make educated choices about what they are eating and it is our job as agriculturalists to bridge the knowledge gap.

What are your personal career goals?
I hope to one day teach in a high school setting, however I am also interested in public policy and legislative affairs and may pursue a career in the industry upon graduation.

Sam Tauchen University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Age: 21

Hometown: Bonduel, WI

Major: Agricultural Education & Psychology

Brief description of your background
I was born, raised, and grew up on my family’s one thousand cow dairy. My involvement continued through participating in FFA, and I was elected as a state FFA officer during my sophomore year of college. Throughout the years, I have been competed in sports, acted in musicals, and worked at the Wisconsin State Capitol. In college, I enjoy being involved, challenging myself with new and exciting opportunities, and hanging out with friends.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
My father has taught me to be a part of something greater than myself. Every day, his actions speak for him through the way he loves and cares for his animals and family. He truly has a passion for the agricultural industry. By him simply showing his passion, people begin to understand agriculture on a completely different level. National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassadors are a part of telling the story of the many individuals who dedicate their lives to the future of agriculture, and I am blessed and honored to serve in such a capacity.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
As people become farther and farther removed from their food source, the knowledge and truth behind animal care, technological advances, and food processing can be easily misinterpreted. An informed public is needed to ensure policies governing agriculture are relevant, and agriculturalists are given the tools to feed the world. Informing the public about agriculture is a lifelong passion, and in this ever changing world, we all must play our part.

What are your personal career goals?
Following graduation, I plan to educate and mentor high school students as an agricultural educator and advisor. After teaching for a number of years, I will attend graduate school and eventually teach at the postsecondary level.

Kiah Twisselman University of California, Davis

Age: 20

Major: Human Development, with minors in both Animal Science and Education

Brief description of your background
I grew up on the edge of San Luis Obispo County, CA on a 6th generation cattle ranch. Needless to say, agriculture is as much a part of me as the freckles on my face or the blue in my eyes. The world’s best parents raised me with my two older brothers, Ethan and Garrett. Growing up in rural California, an hour from the nearest grocery store or high school, I learned at a young age the importance of hard work, dedication, family, and love. There is no greater industry than agriculture to exemplify the qualities of life that I hold nearest and dearest to my heart. Growing up I was active in 4-H and FFA and continue my involvement in the industry as a UC Davis Ag Ambassadors Outreach Coordinator, Field Day Coordinator, Young Cattlemen’s Association Media Coordinator, and Agriculture Future of America Campus Ambassador, to name a few. It is my passion for agriculture that drives my future goals and I hope to continue the family legacy by sharing my story as an advocate for agriculture.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
I chose to serve as an Ag Ambassador because now more than ever, I feel that advocating for agriculture is of great importance. I am passionate about the industry, as it not only impacts each and every person on the planet, but also my family and our livelihood. I hope to do my part by sharing my own stories and the truth about agriculture so that the public may see how vital it is to our every day life. Ag Ambassadors provides me the opportunity to sharpen my skills as a presenter as well as collaborate with professionals in the industry and my fellow peers from all over the nation. As an Ag Ambassador, I am better equipped to spread the word of agriculture in an effective way.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
It is important to advocate and educate the public about agriculture because even though many don’t realize, it heavily impacts each and every one of us. More and more, people are curious about their food and are demanding answers. If we as agriculturalists don’t share our stories and truths, then someone else will, and too often it is the people that don’t have the honest answers. Who better to educate people about agriculture than those most passionate about it? Nobody! Agriculture is becoming more and more transparent and we want people to ask questions because that shows that they care. From the food on our plates, to the clothes on our backs, to the walls that surround us, agriculture is everywhere. Through advocating, we can create a better understanding and appreciation for such an amazing industry that provides so much.

What are your personal career goals?
Personal career goals? Well if that isn’t the golden million dollar question!

After I graduate from UC Davis this fall, I hope to attend graduate school out of state, undecided where, for Ag Communications or Ag Education. I hope that this year I will be enlightened further into what specific path I may be most interested in, but its difficult to decide when opportunity is knocking at so many different doors. Although I don’t know where my career will take me specifically, I know one thing for sure… the opportunities within the agriculture industry are ENDLESS, which isn’t necessarily making my decision any easier. I know that I am passionate about advocating as well as educating, so whether that leads me to being a high school ag teacher or to being a journalist for an ag magazine, or another avenue I have yet to discover, only time will tell.

Alexis Wingerson Kansas State University

Age: 22

Major: Horticulture

Brief description of your background
Living in a rural community, I have been surrounded by production agriculture my whole life. After getting involved in FFA, I discovered just how diverse the agriculture industry is. My desire to learn more led me to work for various sectors of agriculture including the Natural Resource Conservation Service and a peach orchard.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
We are a generation so connected and at the same time disconnected from agriculture. While agriculture affects every part of our lives, we are a society that has the luxury of taking it for granted. Agriculture is a growing industry I would have overlooked, had I not discovered the world of opportunity that employs over 15% of the American workforce. As an Ag Ambassador, I hope to help others understand the importance of agriculture and open their eyes to career opportunities.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
A saying my mom always told me growing up was, “You can’t believe everything you hear.” In today’s world, especially where agriculture is concerned, I have learned the truth in this statement. I know the reality in the challenge we face feeding the world as its population continues to grow, but its resources do not. Helping people find the information they need to make informed food choices gets us one step closer to having a society that understands the science of food production.

What are your personal career goals?
I plan to work in the agriculture industry and eventually to open a business in agri-tourism focused on producing quality food products and providing educational experiences to my community.

Lauren Woloohojian Virginia Tech University

Age: 21

Hometown: West Greenwich, RI

Major: Dairy Science with a minor in Crop & Soil Environmental Science

Brief description of your background
When I was 8 years old, I joined my local 4-H club and got my first trio of bantam chickens. Since then, my 4-H project has grown to include a small herd of Guernsey and Ayrshire dairy cattle, chickens, rabbits and a team of Milking Shorthorn oxen. My involvement in agriculture progressed from 4-H to FFA where I served as Chapter President and competed in Job Interview regionally and nationally and participated in National FFA Band. My commitment to agriculture continues today in college where I am a member of and hold leadership positions in both the Dairy Club and Agronomy Club at Virginia Tech.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
Agriculture is an important aspect of my life. Not many people realize how much of an impact agriculture has on our everyday lives and I feel it is important for people to be educated on how crucial it is. As the FFA Creed, written by E.M. Tiffany begins, “I believe in the future of agriculture…”, I personally believe in the future of agriculture and know that through education, the public’s appreciation and respect towards the industry will grow.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
Agriculture is much more than a farmer in a field and a cow in the barn. When one truly believes in something, it is important for them to speak up. My passion is agriculture. I believe in sharing my knowledge and experiences about something I love. Having the opportunity to advocate and educate the public about my passion is something I am excited to do throughout my year as an Ambassador.

What are your personal career goals?
After graduation, I plan on attending Graduate school or pursuing employment. I love working in the fields with crops as well as working on the dairy farm and would like to combine these two passions and work as a Dairy Nutritionist. My family has purchased farmland in Vermont where I hope to re-establish the dairy farm and continue to raise and show my Guernsey and Ayrshire cattle. Lastly, I am interested in exploring the option of operating a creamery on our farm.

Nicole Zeien Oklahoma State University

Age: 19

Hometown: Belvidere, Illinois

Major: Animal Science, Agriculture Education double major

Brief description of your background
I grew up on a sheep and horse farm in northern Illinois. My parents own Illinois Wool and Fiber Mill that process raw wool into yarn. We recently added another part to the business called The Complete Sheep Shoppe. In this store we sell sheepskin products such as shoes, gloves, hats, dusters, and pelts. I have also rode horses my whole life.

Why did you choose to serve as an Ag. Ambassador?
I have been in situations where people are not aware of all the benefits of agriculture and wanted to change that. I knew that I wanted to help advocate for the industry. This program is one of the best ones because it is a younger generation sharing their stories and passion for the industry that keeps us alive.

Why is it important for you to advocate and educate the public about Agriculture?
I think it is important to advocate and educate the public about agriculture because little do they know that they use agriculture in their everyday lives. I also think it is important because there are organizations out there that are not sharing the right message about the industry and we need to share what is really happening.

What are your personal career goals?
My personal career goals are to be an agriculture teacher. I want to teach students who have the same passions are I do and want to learn about agriculture. I also want to be able to incorporate my animal science experience into the classroom.

For additional information regarding the program, or to request an ambassador visit, please contact Jenna Genson at jgenson@ffa.org or Lindsey Calhoun at lcalhoun@ffa.org.