Engaging Alumni

CAFNR Office of Academic Programs focused on working with alumni

The University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Office of Academic Programs is focused on recruiting strong high school students and providing them with the opportunities to succeed – not only in the classroom but once they enter the workforce.

The CAFNR Office of Academic Programs welcomed three new hires in August of last year – Matt Arri, coordinator of career services; Julie Scroggs, coordinator of student recruitment; and Shanon Dickerson, director of study abroad. The trio has been hard at work since joining CAFNR, refining and strengthening current programs and developing new ones.

“Matt, Julie and Shanon have been passionate and dedicated since joining the CAFNR team,” said Bryan Garton, associate dean and director of academic programs. “All three have brought valuable insights from past experiences, and each is doing a great job of leading the charge in providing quality programs and information for our current and prospective students.”

Making Contacts

Matt Arri receive his bachelor’s degree in French from MU before earning his master’s in human resources development from Webster University. He has approximately 20 years of corporate human resources experience, including stints with Ameren, SSM Healthcare and MasterCard International. Most recently, he served as the career services coordinator for the MU College of Engineering, a position he had held since 2012. With the College of Engineering, Arri worked to plan, develop and administer career-related services for students. Arri has done the same for CAFNR, with a focus on helping current students connect with future employers.

“My background working in the engineering career services office has been invaluable and has helped me with the transition to my current role,” Arri said. “During my time in the College of Engineering, I utilized the Hire Mizzou Tigers website extensively, and I use this site every day in my job in CAFNR.”

CAFNR held its annual Career Fair in September. This year’s event featured more students and more employers than ever before, a trend that has continued during the past few years.

“We need alumni help to grow our Career Fair attendance, as well as engage our students. I’m always looking for more alumni contacts. I want to know what our alumni are doing.”
―Matt Arri, (573) 882-0088/arrim@missouri.edu

“This year’s event was a great success,” Arri said. “Our students were well prepared and were incredibly professional throughout the day. We want to grow this event, though. I want to bring in more employers for our students to meet with. I want our students to have every opportunity to showcase their talents and abilities.”

Arri is looking to engage with alumni in many different ways. He is interested in knowing where alumni are currently working and would encourage them to reach out to him about the various opportunities to work with students. The Office of Academic Programs offers students resume building help as well as mock interview opportunities. Arri said he would love to have alumni help with either program, as the discussions between students and alumni opens several doors.

“We need alumni help to grow our Career Fair attendance, as well as engage our students,” Arri said. “I’m always looking for more alumni contacts. I want to know what our alumni are doing.”

Arri’s experience in the corporate world will play an important role in his new job. He’s excited to bring that experience to CAFNR.

“For me, it’s been a wonderful transition from my previous college to the CAFNR Office of Academic Programs team,” Arri said. “The faculty, staff and students here are very friendly, helpful and resourceful. Before I even considered working in CAFNR, I was aware of the high caliber of CAFNR students. During the short time that I have been here, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some outstanding students, and I am looking forward to working with more students in the days ahead.”

Arri works with students on career counseling and heads several professional development workshops. He has conducted outreach presentations on campus and for several high schools who have come to campus to visit CAFNR. Arri will also utilize the MU Career Fair app for this year’s fair. The app allows students to see which companies are at the career fair, where they are located and any announcements during the event.

“I’m working to reach students through the way they communicate – through various modes of social media,” Arri said. “We’re teaching students how to network online, and we’re working hard to conduct graduation surveys to keep in touch.”

Fostering Relationships

Julie Scroggs also earned degrees from Mizzou. She has bachelor’s degrees in communication and psychology and a minor in business. Scroggs received her master’s in higher education administration from the University of Kansas.

She joins the CAFNR team after more than a year with the University of Nebraska as an academic advisor.

“I’m grateful to be a part of this team,” Scroggs said. “The culture in this office is incredibly supportive and refreshingly student-centered. It’s all about the students, and I love that. I’m excited to see what I can add to CAFNR and the student experience.”

Scroggs served as a summer welcome leader during her time at MU, providing tours for possible students and leading group discussions among those students and their parents. Right after graduation, Scroggs worked with the Missouri College Advising Corps through the University of Missouri. In that role, she was a college advisor who worked with North Kansas City High School staff to increase the number of students enrolling in postsecondary education.

“We need alumni to help us when we come out to their area. For example, we are planning several events this spring and we need those area alums to give us suggestions for venues, food to serve and helping us spread the word for the event. These seem like small things, but it’s crucial for us. The alumni know their town best. They are the experts.”
―Julie Scroggs, (573) 884-3244/scroggsj@missouri.edu

She met with and advised more than 500 students in that role, working with them on college planning and financing. Scroggs also implemented college-related workshops and planned campus tours.

“Moving from advising to recruiting is exciting,” Scroggs said. “My knowledge of academic processes and my experience in the Missouri College Advising Corps gives me an understanding of what students encounter before and after they start Mizzou. I’m looking forward to sharing my insights with prospective students and their families.”

Scroggs had an opportunity to engage with students right away after joining CAFNR. She made trips to several MU Agricultural Research Center field days during the fall and talked with numerous students about the possibilities at Mizzou and CAFNR.

Scroggs has continued her travels throughout the winter months. Not only has she been working to talk with students, Scroggs has also been meeting with alumni and having discussions with them.

“We’re creating events to get out in the state and talk about what CAFNR has to offer,” she said. “Connecting with and continuing to foster relationships with our alumni and Missourians is something we’re incredibly passionate about.

“We are also creating smaller on-campus programs and tours for high school classes and groups to get a more customized tour and to make Mizzou feel more personal. Visiting our beautiful campus is one of the best ways for students to decide to come to Mizzou. It’s a very welcoming and student-centered place. For students who want a small-school feel, they can have that at Mizzou through CAFNR. Our students know and feel that they matter and belong.”

Scroggs said it’s incredibly important for CAFNR alumni to be strong ambassadors in the community they live in.

“We need alumni to help us when we come out to their area,” she said. “For example, we are planning several events this spring and we need those area alums to give us suggestions for venues, food to serve and helping us spread the word for the event. These seem like small things, but it’s crucial for us. The alumni know their town best. They are the experts.”

Scroggs said she is focused on hosting degree or career-related visits for smaller groups of students, reaching out to younger high school students to discuss the vast options students with CAFNR degrees have, and working with alumni to help make both of these things happen.

Creating Bonds

Shanon Dickerson has traveled many miles in her professional career, including trips to Cuba, Brazil, Japan, Morocco and various countries in Europe. Dickerson earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Illinois College. She earned minors in business administration and sociology as well. Dickerson has master’s degrees in Spanish and sociology from Northern Illinois University.

Dickerson most recently served as an international advisor for Carl Sandburg College, in Galesburg, Ill., a position she had held since 2010.

“What interested me most in the director of study abroad position with CAFNR is being able to bring my experience in study abroad into a new area of study,” Dickerson said. “Most of my past work has been in humanities, and I am eager to learn more about the fields of agriculture, food and natural resources.”

Dickerson has been traveling professionally since 2000. She served as a leader and coordinator on a majority of the trips and served as an interpreter on some trips as well. All of that experience has been vital for her new role as the director of study abroad.

“If alumni know any students that are going to be in CAFNR or are already in CAFNR, we always appreciate them spreading the word about our programs.”
―Shanon Dickerson, (573) 882-0087/dickersonsm@missouri.edu

“The CAFNR team has been very welcoming,” Dickerson said. “Faculty have invited me to visit their classes, students are interested in knowing more about study abroad opportunities, and the staff has been wonderful in assisting me in every way possible.”

CAFNR offers a variety of study abroad programs, which are spread throughout the world, including in Australia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Scotland and Thailand, among others. Study abroad is offered during each semester, summer, spring break and winter break.

“Things are going really well,” Dickerson said. “This is one of our busiest times. We have numerous summer programs, we are preparing students for spring break travel and we are also accepting scholarship applications.”

Dickerson said she is currently working to make the study abroad process easier for students. Generally, students have their graduation plan ready in advance so they know when they have time to study abroad. Dickerson wants to ensure that programs are organized to best fit students’ needs.

She is also working on developing ways to keep students in the know about study abroad options.

“We are trying to do things in creative ways,” Dickerson said. “We passed out donuts the first week of classes. We handed out welcome-back bagels when students returned from winter break. We updated the website and hosted pre-trip potlucks, too. We are doing our best to keep students informed of CAFNR study abroad opportunities.”

Dickerson said alumni can help in a number of ways. Donations are always appreciated and key for students who study abroad. Along with donations, alumni who have participated in study abroad are encouraged to become ambassadors and to speak with students about their past experiences.

“If alumni know any students that are going to be in CAFNR or are already in CAFNR, we always appreciate them spreading the word about our programs,” Dickerson said.

Dickerson hosts several programs throughout the year, too. She works with students to promote study abroad and makes numerous classroom and club visits to discuss the upcoming programs. The programs are promoted through social media and student-run blogs as well.

Alumni are always welcome to attend study abroad events to discuss their experiences with CAFNR study abroad programs. Alumni are also encouraged to send in pictures along with a few words regarding the importance of study abroad, as Dickerson is starting to collect words of wisdom for future study abroad participants.

“We are trying to create meaningful bonds amongst those who have participated in study abroad,” Dickerson said.