For Junior Christina Smith, Staples, Minn., Preparation, Planning take Precedence
The University of Minnesota Crookston will host the 2016 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference on April 14-16. As the host school, Crookston students will not compete but engage across contests assisting with all aspects of the national competition as the hosts. Contests include horse judging, agribusiness, landscape design, dairy judging, knowledge bowl, general livestock, wildlife management, ag sales and marketing, soils, mech ag, crops, hippology, small animals, ag computers, horticulture, and livestock management.
The ag sales contest, new to the competition this year, has been the focus of Christina Smith, a junior ag business major and communication minor from Staples, Minn., who has been integrally involved.
Under the guidance of instructor Chuck Lariviere, Smith has worked on all aspects of the contest from putting together tests and maps, meeting with participating businesses, contest logistics, and finding volunteers to help. The two meet weekly to determine priorities for the week and to work out the contest’s many details.
For Smith, the preparation is experience for the future in a field she did not always see herself pursuing. “I did not grow up on a farm, and for me, it all came down to the 9th grade and a choice between art class or a class in fish and wildlife,” Smith explains. “I wasn’t excited about either option, but my dad, convinced me to give the fish and wildlife class a try. It led to involvement with FFA, and my involvement in FFA was a big part of my high school experience and opened the door to my future.”
At first, Smith thought she would pursue a major agricultural education, but along the way, she discovered a keen interest in ag business combined with agronomy. Meeting with growers who came to the classroom, finding she loved her grain and livestock marketing class, and an internship with Professional Agronomy Services in Perham, Minn., confirmed Smith was headed in the right direction.
She plans a second internship this summer with Winfield in Little Falls, Minn., a part of Land O’ Lakes, Inc., to help broaden her agricultural experience. Along with professional opportunities, Smith is active in the Ag Business and Agronomy Club and Delta Theta Sigma Little Sisters, a part of the social agricultural fraternity on campus. She also finds time to tutor students in crop production, biology, and statistics in the Academic Success Center.
While Smith hopes to begin her career in ag business, agronomy, and seed sales, she would like to gain enough experience to one day lobby for ag interests. Her leadership in FFA as an officer in high school and her leadership on campus including her work with the NACTA Judging Conference are all a part of the preparation.
The future for Smith right now though is completely focused on the upcoming ag sales contest. “Next year, I will compete in NACTA, but for this year, I want the ag sales contest to be a great experience for the students competing in it,” she says.
And, Smith is definitely putting in the work it will take to make her future and the ag sales contest a real success.
In the photos:
Top, left, Christina Smith stands by the banner in Ag Country, one of the sponsors of the 2016 NACTA Judging Conference.
Bottom, right, Christina Smith at work in Rob Proulx's grain and seed evaluation lab.