The American agricultural community is surprisingly close-knit for a country with over 2 million farms. Agricultural Business Management (ABM) senior Max Hagaman has witnessed this first hand during his time in Future Farmers of America (FFA) and Agriculture Future of America (AFA). As a high school student on the financial advisory board for FFA, Hagaman was seated next to an ABM student who recruited him to get involved in AFA.
The AFA mission, to “build bridges for young leaders to foster engagement and innovation in food and agriculture,” is carried out by a large commitment from student leaders like Hagaman. As a member of the student advisory team, Hagaman worked with 10 other student leaders to plan the 2021 Leaders Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. The group facilitates the conference by planning the orientation, scripting introductions and keeping the event running smoothly. Hagaman was assigned the college freshman track and each day he gave a morning message and closed the afternoon with a reflection activity.
Student leaders receive a scholarship to attend the annual conference, and in return, have a lot of responsibility planning the event. Hagaman attended planning meetings and traveled to Kansas City ahead of the conference to meet with his team members from 10 other universities. Hagaman’s hard work paid off as his network grew. For example, he was able to participate in a call with a CEO of Bayer during a professional development activity. Such access to industry leaders “really opens the doors” to professional opportunities Hagaman said.
Studying agriculture was not even on Hagaman’s radar until he took a high school agriculture class taught by a motivating teacher. Now he is a Thomas Jefferson Scholar, double majoring in Agricultural Business Management and History. Hagaman is interested in a career in agricultural communications so the unique combination of agricultural business management and history makes sense – history being writing and communication intensive.
After graduation, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in the nexus of agriculture, communication and education. Eventually, he hopes to return to a university with a strong agriculture program and work in the field of student development and success.
Max Hagaman and the people he has met over the years – teachers, CEOs, and fellow students – represent one of the most important aspects of the agricultural industry, community. His leadership and service not only expanded his professional network but fostered opportunities for other students to grow their contacts within the agricultural community.