The Academies at Jefferson City High School allow students to choose an area of interest to aid in their educational journeys. Maddy Meisel chose the Agriculture, Engineering, Trade and Industrial (AETI) Academy where she was able to learn more about animals, plants and food science.
Along with her participation in the AETI Academy, Meisel joined her local FFA chapter, which allowed her to dive even deeper in agriculture. So, while Meisel didn’t grow up on a farm, she knew she wanted to study agriculture in college.
“I’m a bit of an unconventional ag kid,” Meisel said. “Through the Academy and FFA, I learned quickly how important agriculture really is. Without farmers, we don’t have food. I understood how important agriculture education is as well, especially when it comes to where our food comes from.”
Meisel attended State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Mo., before transferring to the University of Missouri. She studied general agriculture at State Fair.
“I had a really good support system at State Fair who helped me make the decision to attend MU,” Meisel said. “My advisor was vital in helping me get everything lined up. Plus, all of my credits from community college transferred over to Mizzou so I didn’t have to backtrack or make up courses. Everything lined up perfectly.”
Meisel transferred to MU at the height of the pandemic, so she said her experience early on was completely virtual. She said she was happy to at least have a few courses on campus during her time at Mizzou.
“My orientation was all on Zoom, so I never saw campus before coming here, as I didn’t have an opportunity to have an actual tour since everything was closed down,” Meisel said. “It was a bit stressful when I was finally able to start in-person classes, but I was able to get it all figured out. It’s such a beautiful campus, so I’m glad I was able to be on campus for a bit at least.”
Meisel chose the agriculture degree program at MU so that she could continue to study what she enjoyed in high school. Her three areas of interest in the agriculture degree program are animal sciences, plant sciences, and food science and nutrition.
“I knew I wanted to study plants, but I also wanted to keep my education broad, as I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to pursue after graduation,” Meisel said. “I also just really enjoyed learning, and this degree program allowed me to study a bit of everything.”
Meisel said some of her favorite courses centered around floral design, where she studied with Lesleighan Cravens, an instructor in the Division of Plant Science and Technology.
“Lesleighan is one of the best people to have in my corner,” Meisel said. “I’ve been able to take a course with her each semester I’ve been here, which has been really exciting.
Meisel also got to take part in a study abroad experience related to floral design. She spent her spring break this year in Holland with a handful of other CAFNR students. Participants of the Holland study abroad program see the flower fields, botanical gardens, greenhouses, wholesalers and Holland’s famous tulips in full bloom. Holland, located on Netherlands’ western shore, offers students an opportunity to see a working windmill, fishing village, castle, and a dairy and cheese operation, as well as tours of the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum.
“I was so excited to be able to participate in the Holland study abroad opportunity,” Meisel said. “The entire experience was incredible. I was also able to earn a floral certificate while I was there, so that was a great bonus.”
Meisel said she enjoyed the numerous hands-on learning laboratories at State Fair and added that those opportunities continued at Mizzou. Along with her floral design courses, she said she liked her hands-on learning opportunities within food science.
“I really enjoyed my dairy foods class, as we were able to go into Buck’s and see how ice cream was made,” Meisel said. “We also were taught the different processes within the dairy industry, which was really interesting. Seeing the scientific process behind it all was fascinating.
“I’ve also liked the grapes and wine course I’ve been a part of. We’ve learned about the different grapes and the regions where they’re grown. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Meisel said she is interested in a few career paths after graduation. She said she is thankful for how well the agriculture degree prepared her for life after college.
“The opportunities available to me are endless,” Meisel said. “I’m interested in maybe working for the USDA, as there are numerous sectors that touch on a variety of ag-related areas I’m interested in. I’m also thinking about something greenhouse related. I love plants, so I think working with them full-time would be fantastic.”