A unique opportunity was given to 40 deserving students across the country back in 2012—the chance to be a 40 Chances Fellow through Agriculture Future of America in partnership with the Howard G. Buffet 40 Chances awareness campaign. These exceptional students made the decision to apply, and were selected based on their desire and potential to impact global food security issues. Morgan Beach, junior in Agricultural and Applied Economics, was one of the honored few.
When this program was brought to Beach’s attention during her freshman year at the Agriculture Future of America Leaders Conference, she made the decision to apply. The program was founded because of a gift given by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The purpose of the program is to give students the opportunity to focus on professional and leader development to use the 40 years of their adult life or “40 Chances” to impact the world around them.
“Often times we forget how fortunate we are, and sometimes I am one of those people who forgets how fortunate I am to have a family that easily provides for me, that I’m lucky to be going to the University, and that I don’t have to worry about where my next meal comes from. But that is not true for everyone. And it is our job as humanitarians, to reach to those in need and help them,” says Beach.
Although these 40 students span from all over the country, Beach is one of four selected from MU. Nicholas Neumann, Haley Thompson and Adam Chesser were also selected for the program their freshman year. However, groups within the program are always on rotation, and they’re not limited to only working with people they share a campus with.
“This program is special because it allows us, as students, to make a definitive change in the lives of others while develop more ourselves. I saw strong promise in it from the beginning and it hasn’t faltered so far. I’m honored to be a part of this group and cannot wait for the rest of the program to unfold,” says Thompson, Agribusiness Management.
Beach, Thompson, and the other 38 students get together at every AFA conference where they have special meetings to interact with each other. Aside from meeting at conference they also have several other travel opportunities with the program.
This summer they will be headed to Minneapolis to work on several projects with each other. However, Beach is most excited for this coming winter break when she will get the opportunity to travel to Bolivia for two weeks. The international trips are sponsored by AFA in coordination with 40 Chances. Students select to travel to either Bolivia, Thailand, Ethiopia or The Netherlands depending on their interests.
These four countries were chosen because they are countries in need or in poverty. Beach selected Bolivia due to its focus on sustainability, population growth demand and technology practices. While there, Beach and eight other students will gain hands-on experience in learning what their agricultural practices are and seeing what they are doing to combat hunger.
Once the students return from their selected countries, they will travel to Washington, D.C., where they can discuss with the other groups what they experienced while there.
There are several duties for the students enrolled in this program, and this includes several assignments and readings that must be accomplished. A unique benchmark they are working towards are their leader interviews. “We get to connect with three people who we find aspiring or who we look to as a mentor or maybe they have a career that we would hope to be in. We reach out to them and interview them to see what key pieces of advice they would give us, and then we see how we can relate that to our overall project,” says Beach.
Over the next year Beach will serve as an organizational ambassador to AFA as a Student Advisory Team member. Beach has hopes to remain involved with AFA after graduation through joining the AFA Alliance, and hopefully this will allow her to remain in contact with the other 39 students. “I think we’ll all still be friends, we’ll all be at the alliance, and we’ll all be working in the industry…so I definitely think we will still be seeing each other [after graduation].”
“This [program] has really impacted my life, and what I hope to do as a career goal. I want to impact policy to help people. That’s my goal, that’s why I like agriculture, and I like seeing the impact that we have in the world,” says Beach.