I recently had the opportunity to attend the National Agricultural Media Summit with two of my professors and six other students from the University of Arkansas.
This national summit began in 1999 and is the largest gathering of agriculture communicators in the US. The event, which rotates locations each year, is a product of the Livestock Publications Council, the American Agricultural Editors’ Association, and the Connective Ag Media Council.
The convention has four main goals: provide educational opportunities, support agriculture publications, promote agriculture publications and to provide networking opportunities for members.
Before attending the convention, my professor informed us that this three-day event valued the social and networking of a convention. We would have several opportunities to meet professionals, educators and other college students, who all had a passion for agriculture communications.
Individuals attended from across the country, this year gathering in Raleigh, North Carolina.
After my group caught up on our summer adventures, we all attended the first panel discussion. The panelists answered several interesting questions, and one response really stuck out to me. When asked how to make the most of the week at Ag Media Summit, we were encouraged to take time to meet and talk with others. But when we do, make sure that we are actually enjoying being around them, and having genuine conversations.
This advice was an excellent reminder of what networking is really about. We hear the term often, but how and why do we make those connections with others?
For many of us, networking can be very career focused, but I like to think of it as a way to build my community.
After returning home from Raleigh, I was back on the road the next day with the Missouri Farm Bureau. We were asked to be part of a networking day with the Saint Louis Science Center’s YES Program. Before attending this event, I wasn’t familiar with the YES (Youth Exploring Science) Program, but after learning more about it, I have become a big fan!
The YES Program creates opportunities for underserved high school students in the Saint Louis area by allowing them to engage in different STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) courses and prepare for college and a career. Over 1,200 high school students have graduated from the program because of their commitment to attending every Saturday during the school year and daily during the summer.
Students have the opportunity to learn about engineering, aerospace, entrepreneurship, media production and more. To me, the YES Program seems like a great way to build confidence in teens, and surround them with peers and teachers who will encourage them along the way.
The YES Program’s Networking Day was made up of a variety of career professionals that students met with in small groups. All the professionals were able to share what their career involved, and answer students’ questions.
I offered my best college and internship advice, and learned about students’ individual experiences at the YES Program.
Although the Agriculture Media Summit and YES Program Networking Day are two very different events, I can’t help but think about the similarities in the way I made connections that week. The idea of networking can be nerve racking and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be.
I have learned that networking can be a great opportunity to share life experiences, build community and learn from others.