We always hear that the Ag Alumni Association is the “gold standard” for alumni engagement at the University of Missouri. The Board of Directors of the association have taken that a step further and engaged CAFNR students in a new organization for future alumni.
“True Tigers” are student members of the MU Alumni Association. CAFNR is the only college with its own chapter of True Tigers, thanks to the Ag Alumni Association. Any CAFNR student who signs up at the campus level to be a True Tiger qualifies for the CAFNR chapter, said president Colton Spencer, sophomore in agricultural education.
“We pride ourselves on professional development, connecting with alumni,” Spencer said of the CAFNR True Tigers group. “We also want to show students ‘campus like you haven’t seen it before.’”
Dana Brown Haynes, CAFNR coordinator of alumni relations and events, is the group’s advisor. She said the networking that happens through the organization is invaluable.
“When we can bring students and alumni together through the CAFNR True Tiger meetings, an alumni event or other opportunity we allow a synergy of sharing and networking to occur,” she said. “I got my first job by initially visiting with an alumnus in a food line many years ago. This informal means of networking is often the most comfortable with students and often the most enlightening for the alumnus or potential employer.
“It also will allow the Ag Alumni Board members to identify future leaders for the organization and its various committees.”
The group has one business and one social/tour meeting per month, Spencer said. Members of Ag Alumni Association Board of Directors are invited to most events.
So far this academic year, CAFNR True Tigers have had a “back-stage” tour of Mizzou Arena. Events last year included behind-the-scenes tours of Jesse Hall and Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, where students had the chance to kiss the 50-yard line.
“This allows us to share the CAFNR story, traditions and expectations with current CAFNR students, allowing them to learn more about their campus, its history and develop pride in their campus experience.” Brown Haynes said.
Future events include touring some of the college’s Agricultural Research Centers, Spencer said, in addition to inviting alumni to speak about their careers and experience at Mizzou.
“What do they recommend getting involved in, etc.?” Spencer said of the alumni visits. “We want to tie the students to CAFNR alumni.”
Finally, the CAFNR True Tigers have developed their leadership skills through philanthropy activities. At the 2017 CAFNR bonfire, for example, they raised $330 for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief effort.
The CAFNR chapter has about 40-50 active members. At the campus level, True Tiger membership also allows students access to special events and giveaways, Spencer said.
For Spencer and others, CAFNR True Tigers is just another way to form an even deeper connection with the institution they grew up admiring.
“I’ve been going to football games my whole life, and visited Mizzou through FFA,” he said. “I always knew I wanted to be here. It’s a family tradition.” Spencer is the 28th member of his family to attend the University of Missouri.
If you would like to get involved with True Tigers, either through attending events or participating as a guest speaker, please contact Colton Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dana Brown Haynes at email@example.com.