Development and preparation

MARSHALL – Lynd native Emma Hoversten was among 550 students from across the United States who attended the 2013 Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference recently in Kansas, City, Mo.

Throughout the course of four days, Hoversten, a University of Minnesota sophomore, had the opportunity to engage in career preparation training provided by agriculture, education and facilitation professionals. AFA creates partnerships that identify, encourage and support outstanding collegiate and young professionals who are pursuing careers in the agriculture and food industry.

“We went through a lot of professional development sessions,” Hoversten said. “In addition to the different sessions I went to, I also had the opportunity to network with other ag students and ag professionals. It was a lot of fun.”

Hoversten said she learned a lot while attending the conference.

“There was a session about ethics in the workplace and that was really interesting,” she said. “There was another one on writing thank you’s and cover letters. That’s something that’s not usually covered in school.”

Hoversten said she also learned about different types of leadership styles, including the FranklinCovey model. FranklinCovey is a global company specializing in performance improvement, with expertise in the areas of leadership, execution, productivity, trust, sales performance, customer loyalty and education.

“We learned about the difference between leadership and management,” Hoversten said. “It was kind of like teamwork and leadership, working toward a common goal.”

One of the highlights of Hoversten’s trip was getting to have breakfast with Land O’Lakes Inc., which is one of the organizations that partners with AFA to make the conference training possible.

“That was a lot of fun,” she said. “I got to learn about them and I’m really interested in one of their intern positions. It was a really great networking opportunity.”

Like other student delegates, Hoversten was selected to attend the conference by AFA and its partners. She was also paired with Land O’Lakes based on mutual interest.

“I’ve been working on the internship application,” Hoversten said. “It’s in agronomy, doing crop scouting and soil sampling.”

Hoversten credits her rural upbringing for instilling a passion for agriculture.

“I grew up on a farm outside of Lynd, and I think that got me interested in agriculture,” she said. “I don’t know why, but I’m really interested in soil. It’s a lot of fun to work with soils.”

Hoversten plans to teach after graduating from the U of M in three years.

“There’s a high demand for teaching agriculture,” Hoversten said. “I want to stay in Minnesota, though, to stay close to family.”

AFA prides itself on helping to develop the next generation of agriculture leaders. AFA program participation has increased 70 percent in the last five years, impacting 9,000 college leaders and young professionals from more than 200 colleges and universities throughout 42 states since its inception in 1996. The organization has also awarded more than $8 million in academic and leader development scholarships.

“I’ve been to quite a few FFA conferences and there were some similarities, but this was nice because it was all based on professional development instead of personal growth development,” Hoversten said. “I’ll definitely be using these skills I’ve acquired when I’m doing an internship and when I’m teaching in the classroom.”