Columnist attends AFA conference, makes connections


I always try to be involved with as many things as possible. Some might call me crazy, but I really enjoy going to agriculture industry conferences across the country. Last week, I got the chance to travel to the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Animal Institute in Kansas City.

 AFA has always been one of my favorite organizations to be involved with. They are focused on building career development for college students within the agriculture industry. This is the fourth AFA conference I have attended and once again, it did not disappoint.

 AFA has different conferences every year, including the annual Leader’s Conference held in November of every year. They also have four different institutes that focus on different sectors of the agriculture industry, including the Policy Institute, Crop Science Institute, Food Science Institute, and the Animal Institute.

 As an animal science and agriculture communications double major, I applied to go to the Animal Institute. Once selected and accepted into the program, I was asked to choose what areas interested me the most and was placed into a group based on my interests. There were different groups at the institute based on veterinary medicine, communications, pharmaceuticals, and other parts of the animal industry.

 I am interested in advertising, public relations and communications; so I was placed into the communications group. We were able to tour Osborn Barr – a full service advertising agency, Parnell Pharmaceuticals – a company that does research on medicine for animals, The American Hereford Association – an association that works with Hereford beef cattle all over the nation, and Ad Farm – another full service advertising agency.

I really enjoyed all of the tours and learning more about advertising and being able to talk with industry professionals about jobs and internships. It really taught me more about myself and what I am interested in. Before going to the AFA animal institute last year, I never knew I was interested in advertising, but going there opened my eyes and led to me getting a minor in advertising.

 Another great thing about the animal institute was being able to network with other students from all over the country. It was great to hear about other internships that other students have done to see if it would be something I would be interested in myself. The people who you meet at these types of conferences are people that you will be dealing with for the rest of your life. In my opinion, it is important to meet as many people as you possibly can in order to form connections.

 Companies involved with AFA are very likely to hire participants who are involved with the organization and attend the conferences. They like to interact with the students and sponsor the conferences because they know that they will get something out of it someday when they are looking for qualified individuals to hire.

 Another one of my favorite parts of the conference was being able to sit down with industry professionals and ask them advice on everything from how to stand out on Linked-In and other social media channels to graduate school advice. The people involved were more than willing to help and I learned so much about how to present myself, and what I want to do with my career in the future.

 If you are interested in learning more about AFA or attending one of the conferences, I highly recommend it. I have enjoyed each experience I have had with AFA. If you have any questions, you can go to or contact me, I would be happy to help.


Kendra Davis is an agricultre communications major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected].