Growing up, the National FFA Organization played an important role in Emily Brune’s education. When she came to the University of Missouri, she knew that she wanted to choose a degree program that would allow her to give back to the organization that gave her so much.
Brune settled on agricultural education with the goal of getting into teaching. She has met that goal and, after graduation, Brune will join the Wellsville-Middletown R-I School District, in Wellsville, Mo., as an agriculture educator.
“FFA is an incredible organization,” Brune said. “Students in the organization learn about and become advocates for the agriculture industry. Students earn life skills, career development skills and are able to build important networks. I’m a firm believer that everyone should be knowledgeable about where their food comes from. Agriculture impacts all of us.
“It’s exciting that I’ll be on the other side now, teaching students about agriculture. I’m excited to watch the students go through this life-changing experience, as well as develop and grow as leaders.”
Brune grew up on a beef cattle and row crop farm in Eolia, Mo., a town of less than 500 people in northeastern Missouri. She knew that when it came to picking a college, she wanted something larger.
“Mizzou was my go-to choice,” Brune said. “I started in animal sciences because of my background, but switched to agricultural education after learning more about the program. I really found my home in agricultural education. It was a perfect fit.”
While Brune said the transition from a small high school to a large university was challenging at times early on, the agricultural education program made it manageable.
“Everyone in the department is basically family by the time you graduate,” Brune said. “They offer such great advice and support, and they take the time to listen to students. They want us to succeed, which is really appreciated as a young college student.”
The transition was also made easier through the clubs and organizations that Brune joined. She was part of Sigma Alpha and the Mizzou Ag Ed Society. Brune also played for the women’s club basketball team.
“Basketball was one of my favorite hobbies in high school,” Brune said. “I was playing in the rec one day and realized I really missed it. I randomly ran into the club team while they were practicing in the rec, got connected and was able to join the team. We were able to travel all over and participated in a few tournaments. It was a lot of fun and a great way to stay active.”
Brune also worked with Matt Arri, director of career services in the CAFNR Office of Academic Programs.
“That opportunity put me in touch with so many CAFNR faculty and staff, and I really got to know them,” Brune said. “Working in the Office of Academic Programs gave a big university a small-town feel.”
Brune completed her student teaching at Montgomery County R-II School District. She said those learning opportunities outside of the classroom are vital for undergraduate students.
“Gaining experience of what is going to happen in the real world is really important,” Brune said. “By the time we graduate, we’re knowledgeable and we’ve been able to network within the industry. That really prepares students for success before we even begin our first job.
“It’s important for students to step out of their comfort zone. College is what you make it. Those big decisions can be a little bit scary. I came from a super tiny school, and I did my best to get involved and put myself out there. That involvement really paid off in the long run.”
Brune added that she is excited to bring what she learned from the agricultural education program to high school students.
“I’ve always been passionate about the agriculture industry,” Brune said. “For us, it was our livelihood. When I got to college, I realized there are still quite a few people who don’t completely understand the industry, which was eye opening for me. I was already an advocate for agriculture in high school, and that only got stronger when I got to college.
“I’m so excited to share that passion with students. Even if they don’t go into the agriculture industry, they can still be advocates. It’s just an incredible opportunity. I hope to have the same impact on students that my agriculture educators have had on me.”