For the past year, David Hoffman, Wendy Flatt and Marcia Carlson Shannon have been preparing for the first-ever University of Missouri Animal Sciences Youth Leadership Academy.
The academy is focused on bringing in high school students to learn more about the livestock industry and network with industry leaders.
“I’ve had the idea for several years, and I know there are several neighboring states that do similar academies,” said Hoffman, a livestock specialist with MU Extension. “I just decided that it was finally time to take the plunge and start it.
“The three of us put together the program. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s going to be worth it.”
The academy, which includes 20 students from across the state, began Wednesday, June 1, with tours of local research centers. The students traveled to the Foremost Dairy Research Center to learn about the dairy industry, as well as the Bradford and South Farm Research Centers.
The academy will continue through Saturday. The group will make stops in St. Joseph and Kansas City as well.
On Saturday, the 20 students will be split into four groups and give presentations on issues facing livestock and livestock production. The group that gives the strongest presentation will receive scholarships to the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
“Farm kids are hard workers and do great work,” Hoffman said. “We want to keep them in the livestock industry.
“We want to present the vast differences in livestock production in the state with this academy.”
More than 40 high school students applied for the academy. All are interested in the livestock industry in some way.
“It was just like applying for a job,” Hoffman said. “They had to include their resume and answer questions. They had to send us references.”
The academy is a partnership between MU Extension, CAFNR and the MU Division of Animal Sciences.
“We have a great group of kids,” said Shannon, an animal science professor. “I think when the kids leave on Saturday, they will have developed a bond with other.
Saturday’s presentations will take place at Eckles Hall on the University of Missouri campus.
For more information about the academy, contact Hoffman at HoffmanD@missouri.edu; Shannon at CarlsonM@missouri.edu; or Flatt, a livestock specialist with MU Extension, at firstname.lastname@example.org.