While Rhiannen Schneider didn’t grow up on a farm, she did grow up in a rural community and got connected to agriculture through the National FFA Organization. It was actually a conversation with an FFA acquaintance at Mizzou that led Schneider to change her major to a CAFNR degree program during her freshman year, specifically to agribusiness management.
“Most of my friends were CAFNR students, so a lot of the conversations I was involved in were related to what they doing within the college,” Schneider said. “Some of the opportunities they discussed sounded really appealing, so I decided to make the change to CAFNR.”
Once Schneider, who is from Savannah, Mo., joined CAFNR she met even more fellow FFA members.
“The community atmosphere that FFA gave, I found that same atmosphere within CAFNR,” Schneider said. “It was fun to pull up old results of FFA competitions from when we were in high school and realize that we competed against each other and many times didn’t even know it.
“In high school, I actually didn’t want to come to the University of Missouri. I’m so glad that FFA helped get me here.”
The agribusiness management degree gave Schneider the chance to connect with the strong faculty in the Division of Applied Social Sciences.
“We have such intelligent and well-rounded faculty,” Schneider said. “They’re well respected in their fields and are making an impact beyond the classroom. People know our professors all over the world, and the work and research they’re doing is applied to our classroom work. It makes what we’re learning relatable and really interesting.”
Schneider was able to see first-hand how research done at the University of Missouri can have an impact beyond the classroom. She worked with Ray Massey, Extension professor of agricultural and applied economics, and Ryan Milhollin, Extension specialist of agricultural economics, for nearly three years on a variety of research projects.
“That job has been really cool and it taught me a lot of about agriculture in general,” Schneider said. “In agribusiness management, you obviously get a lot on the business and budget sides. Research has opened my eyes in that I get to apply what I’ve learned in the classroom to real-world issues.”
Schneider was part of Sigma Alpha, Mizzou Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow and True Tigers as a CAFNR student. Schneider also participated in the CAFNR Week festivities last year.
“That week really showed the pride that CAFNR students have in the College and how we really enjoy doing things together,” Schneider said. “With everything that has happened during the past year, it’s really nice to think back on those memories.”
Schneider was also part of Young Life, a religious organization focused on building relationships with high school students.
“I’ve been involved with Young Life in Boonville since the second semester of my freshman year,” Schneider said. “It’s been really fun to build relationships and mentor several girls there. It’s given me a new perspective and appreciation of life. Being part of their growth has been very rewarding.”
Schneider also served as a student representative on the CAFNR Alumni Board. She said that experience showcased how it’s not just CAFNR faculty and staff who care about students in the College.
“Professionalism and career readiness are both very important, and CAFNR puts a lot of focus on both,” Schneider said. “Faculty and staff play an important part in that development, as well as alumni. Many members on the board were willing to look over my resume when I made the decision to apply to law school. They certainly didn’t have to do that, but they were incredibly excited to help me succeed.”
After graduation, Schneider will be attending law school at University of Missouri – Kansas City.
“Growing up, my parents always joked I should be a lawyer because I loved to argue,” Schneider said. “I was strong willed – I actively avoided that route because they were telling me to do it. But once I started with my upper level classes and talking about the way policies and laws affect lives, it became more and more interesting to me. Through the process of learning and talking, I like to piece together the why behind something. I like the analytical process.
“I think my agribusiness management degree is really going to be helpful when I get to law school. Rural community focus is really unique in the field of law. When you think about lawyers, you typically think about big cities and tall buildings – which is definitely a real part of law. But rural communities sometimes get lost in the weeds. I’m passionate about learning to be an attorney to be able to bring law to rural communities. I wouldn’t have had an interest in that if not for the agribusiness management degree.”