The CAFNR Alumni Association is the (black-and)-gold standard for engagement on campus – and incoming Alumni Association Board of Directors President Emily (Wood) Kueker says she feels this actually starts with the student experience in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and the feeling of family and community.
“Whether it’s the advising, teaching, or student organizations, CAFNR provides so many opportunities and the faculty and staff truly want you to be successful,” she says. “It’s easy to fall in love with a place where the faculty and staff are rooting for you and care about you.
“When students have such a positive experience, it’s easy to get them to engage with our alumni events because they continue to get the same feeling of family and community.”
Emily received her bachelor’s degree from CAFNR in agricultural education, leadership and communications (with a minor in agricultural economics) in 2002. She said she personally also gives back and volunteered to join the alumni board because of the resources and opportunities the CAFNR Alumni Association provided her during her time in college.
“When I was a student, I received a scholarship from the CAFNR Alumni Association that helped pay for my tuition. I also had the fortune of being an alumni intern, helping plan Ag Unlimited – which, at the time, had maybe 200 attendees and has since grown to over 750 friends and supporters of CAFNR,” she says.
“I am incredibly grateful for the support I received from the organization as a student that I felt it was important to give my time and talents to help serve in leadership roles in the organization.”
Emily says she is taking over as president at an exciting time. The CAFNR Alumni Association has completed its first five-year strategic plan for the organization, and is set to roll out the next plan for 2023.
“Our focus will continue to support CAFNR, specifically CAFNR students, by providing scholarships and grants,” Emily says. “We also love that our alumni can connect at events at the State Fair, Homecoming, our Tiger Ag Classic and CAFNR Ag Unlimited, to name a few. We’ll continue to look for ways for students and alumni to have meaningful interactions and connect alumni.”
Emily is originally from the small town of Shelbyville, Mo., and said although she loved visiting campus as a high school student, she was also initially worried about attending a university as large as Mizzou.
“When I toured CAFNR, I could tell the advisors cared, they knew people from my hometown I knew, and I felt a comfort of knowing the advising had a really good reputation,” she says.
CAFNR did turn out to be the perfect fit for Emily – she met her husband, Doug, also an agricultural education major and agricultural economics minor (he graduated in 2003), was very active in clubs and organizations, and took advantage of other learning opportunities as well.
“It was really fun for me to be an active leader in Ag Week, CAFNR Ambassadors, and NAMA (National Agri-Marketing Association). I was also fortunate enough to study in Northern Ireland for a month during my time in CAFNR. That was my first trip out of the country, and such a valuable experience and really fun trip, visiting farms, castles, and pubs,” she says.
Together, Emily and Doug co-own Vivayic, a virtual company that designs learning solutions – training programs and educational initiatives – in support of business and organizational goals.
Emily says that the communication and listening skills she learned during her time at CAFNR have been instrumental in her successful business. She said her extracurricular activities especially helped teach her how to lead teams.
Emily takes the reins at the CAFNR Alumni Association in May.