Growing up in a town of less than 1,600 people, Hailey Douglass said the thought of attending a university with more than 30,000 undergraduate students was somewhat intimidating. However, she said the immediate family feel she got from CAFNR eased her nerves.
“I was honestly a bit scared of Mizzou because of how big it is,” Douglass said. “While I toured a few other agriculture programs at separate universities, none of them made me feel more welcome than CAFNR. I knew I was going to be taken care of and have so many opportunities if I chose a degree in CAFNR.”
Douglass got involved right away as a freshman, joining a few different CAFNR clubs. Once she saw all of the good that those organizations were doing across mid-Missouri, she realized that she wanted to dive in deeper. Douglass joined the CAFNR Student Council, serving as the secretary during her junior year. Now, as a senior, Douglass leads the group as president.
“CAFNR has so many great organizations that I would have never known about if not for me getting involved in student council,” said Douglass, an agricultural education major. “It’s been such a great experience to serve my peers and see our students get connected and build friendships. As someone who was a bit overwhelmed by the size of Mizzou, our clubs and organizations are a great way to get involved and find individuals who have similar interests.”
Before joining CAFNR Student Council, Douglass was a CAFNR Ambassador and spent time as a member of Collegiate Farm Bureau, among other clubs.
“CAFNR obviously has a lot of degree programs,” Douglass said. “What is really great is that each major has at least one organization directly tied to it. That makes it just a bit easier for students to find their group.”
While Douglass knew CAFNR was a great fit for her, she wasn’t sure what exact degree to pursue as a Tiger. She grew up on her family’s farm, which included row crops and hogs, and was incredibly involved in FFA at South Shelby High School in Shelbina, Mo. With several options, Douglass eventually selected agricultural education after a conversation with John Tummons, an associate teaching professor and director of undergraduate studies in agricultural education and leadership.
“I could tell right away that Dr. Tummons wanted me to succeed – and so did everyone else I talked with in the program,” said Douglass, who chose the communications and leadership track. “They have continued to support me in numerous ways as well. The faculty really want to get to know each student and care about us beyond the classroom.”
To go along with her club involvement, Douglass has also earned plenty of hands-on learning opportunities through a few different internships. She worked as a media intern with the American Royal Association and spent time with Missouri Farm Bureau as a public affairs and advocacy intern. Douglass also worked with MU Extension on numerous agribusiness policy items and helped with social media.
“I’ve learned so much through my work in my degree program, but I’ve also had great opportunities to put what I’ve learned into action,” Douglass said. “My internships have been vital for my college experience – and I know they’ll be incredibly important as I begin my professional career.”
Douglass will graduate in May and said she is interested in pursuing a job related to agriculture sales. She said it’s a career that would allow her to utilize the skillsets she’s added throughout her time in CAFNR.
“I’ve been involved in agriculture my entire life,” Douglass said. “My major goal once I leave MU is to help farmers succeed. I think one way that I can do that is by selling them quality products to help their operations.”
Douglass said she was going to make sure to soak in her final semester at Mizzou. Douglass added that she’s happy she got so involved when she first stepped on campus.
“My biggest piece of advice for any student is to get involved,” she said. “Step out of your comfort zone for a bit and see what’s out there. It’s so important to try something new because you never know what you may learn about yourself. Our clubs and organizations offer students the opportunity to build friendships that will last a lifetime.”