12th annual Ag Day celebrates industry’s growth

Lauren Weishaar, Reporter

The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences will celebrate its 12th annual Ag Day April 11.

The event was started by the CAFES Prexy Council over a decade ago to spread agricultural advocacy around campus. This year’s theme, Growing Through the Grit, will acknowledge and commemorate the challenges agriculturists have previously navigated. 

“The last couple of years have been very challenging,” Ag Day Chair Marie Robbins said. “The past trends in agriculture have been hard for farmers and producers to manage and overcome. Growing Through the Grit represents no matter what happens, agriculture is still going to push through to be at the forefront of our lives.” 

In the last two years, Ag Day events were altered or canceled in accordance with COVID-19 regulations. 

“It was really hard to plan events as we had to follow so many restrictions. It’s cool to see how people and clubs have grown through that,” Prexy Council President Karmen Sperr said. “Growing Through the Grit really expresses how we as a college were able to keep doing what we do to make sure that we were able to still have a successful year.” 

In preparation for the event, Ag Day T-shirts will be handed out April 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Raven Precision Agriculture Center and Animal Science lobby. In addition, they will be handed out April 7 in Pierson Hall from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and April 10 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

“I think the coolest part about the Ag Day shirt is seeing it worn year after year by faculty, grad students, undergraduates, everyone,” said Sadie VanderWal, the 2021-2022 CAFES advocate. “It really shows the comradery of our college and how we are able to come together and create such a cool event that is then worn with pride for years to come.”

Robbins added: “Wearing a shirt with two thousand other students gives such a sense of unity.”

Ag Day officially begins with CAFES clubs and organizations hosting booths in the Student Union, Raven Precision Agriculture Center and the Animal Science building from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“I am really excited for the tabling and to see what clubs come up with,” Sperr said. “Even though we had Ag Day last year, we couldn’t do student tabling or have employers come to campus, so I’m excited to see those interactions again.” 

At 3 p.m., an employer social will take place in the Hobo Day Gallery of the Student Union. It will give students a chance to interact with employers in the industry in a more casual setting. 

The main event, a free banquet meal open to the public, will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Volstorff Ballroom in the Union. 

Getting back to the banquet and seeing everyone “celebrate agriculture all in one room again on our campus is going to be exciting,” VanderWal said.  

Keynote speaker Darren Hefty will share his message following the banquet. 

Hefty is a fourth-generation farmer and agronomist who is focused on helping growers increase yields, make money on the farm and better the land and environment for future generations. Hefty and his brother, Brian, manage Hefty Seed Co., the ninth-largest seed retailer in the U.S. The brothers are also hosts of Ag PhD TV, the No. 1 agronomy show in the U.S., and Ag PhD Radio, which has aired on SiriusXM for over eight years.  

“We hope his message and brand attracts a lot of people, not just from campus, but from the community as well,” Robbins said. 

A short program will follow Hefty’s message announcing Teacher of the Year, Club of the Year and outstanding senior awards.

“I hope Ag Day really reflects what agriculture looks like in our state,” VanderWal said. “I hope we are able to share the message of agriculture with more than just our college and broadcast that to our entire campus community, showing them where their food comes from.”