TRENTON, Mo. – Eight students from the Agriculture Department at Missouri State University-West Plains recently placed in competitions at the 2017 Missouri Postsecondary Agriculture Students (PAS) Organization’s annual conference Nov. 13-15 at North Central Missouri College in Trenton and are now eligible to compete at the National PAS Conference and Convention March 13-16 in Louisville, Kentucky.
PAS promotes career preparation and leadership, according to Dr. Linda Wulff-Risner, associate professor of agriculture at Missouri State-West Plains and the group’s faculty adviser. Conferences include contests in career planning, career progress, employment interviews and comprehensive subject matter exams, as well as various workshops, motivational speakers and other conference events. Missouri State University-West Plains hosted the 2016 state conference.
The career planning contest encouraged students who are in their first year of post-secondary agricultural training to explore careers in agriculture and interview professionals within that career while learning what skills, work habits, lifestyles and salaries are common in that field, Risner said. They also are required to set goals and the steps to achieve those goals, which are then evaluated by an industry representative, she added. Missouri State-West Plains students who placed in these competitions included:
• Agribusiness Management and Marketing Systems: Sabrina Brinkerhoff, West Plains, third.
• Horticulture, Environmental and Natural Resource Systems: Douglas Cooley II, Plato, second.
• Agricultural Education Systems: Jarod Coatney, West Plains, sixth.
The career progress competition for students in their second year of post-secondary agricultural training called for students to complete an extensive application for an interview by a person currently working in the industry, Risner explained. Judges evaluate the students’ progress toward the goals and competencies needed for success in that career field, she added. Missouri State-West Plains students placing in these competitions included:
• Agricultural Education Systems: Bryce King, Alton, second; Rae Kirkwood, Houston, fifth.
• Non-Ruminant Animal Systems: Jerica Will, Winona, first; Haden Garrett, West Plains, second; Dessa McBride, West Plains, third.
The employment interview contest required students to complete a letter of application, resume and employment application, all of which are judged for accuracy and quality, then sit down for an interview with a person currently working in that career field, Risner said. The contest prepares students for the process of applying and interviewing for a career position, she added. Students who placed in these competitions included:
• Agribusiness Management: Brinkerhoff, fifth.
• Forestry and Natural Resources: Cooley, first.
• Feeds and Animal Health: Garrett, third; McBride, fourth; Will, fifth.
• Agriculture Education Systems: King, second; Kirkwood third; Coatney, fifth.
The top five contestants in each division of career planning, career progress and employment interview advanced to the national competition.
“I am extremely proud of our students. Eight students went to the state competition, and eight students scored in the top five in one or more contests, earning them the right to compete at the National PAS Conference in Louisville,” said Dr. Linda Wulff-Risner, associate professor of agriculture and the group’s faculty adviser.
2 SELECTED AS OFFICERS
In addition to the competition placements, two Missouri State-West Plains students were selected as officers for the Missouri PAS Organization. King was elected vice president, and Cooley was elected sentinel. As state officers, King and Cooley will represent Missouri as official delegates to the national convention and will assist at Missouri PAS events statewide. King and Cooley also are scheduled to give the welcome address to the area FFA Green Hand motivational conference Jan. 10.
“One of my proudest moments here at Missouri State-West Plains was when Bryce King was elected vice president and Douglas Cooley II was elected sentinel,” Risner said. “This was the first time that Missouri State-West Plains had officer candidates, and two of them were elected to state office. There are only six offices and 16 contestants.
“Missouri State-West Plains is only in its third year of competition at Missouri PAS, and we jumped off the deep end by hosting the conference in West Plains in 2016,” she added. “We took the lessons learned while hosting, rode the wave of enthusiasm after over 20 students competed in 2016, and the results are amazing! Now, on to preparing for national competition in March! We plan to work hard and hopefully come home with good results at the national level.”
The National Postsecondary Agriculture Students Organization was founded in 1980 in Kansas City, Missouri, to provide opportunities for individual growth, leadership and career preparation for college agriculture students. An estimated 1,400 members from 62 chapters in 18 states are PAS members.
Funding for the trip was provided by the Missouri State-West Plains Student Government Association (SGA) and the Philanthropic Women for Education (PWE) group. Students also raised funds by assisting with Ozarks Medical Center’s annual Blue Jean Ball.