As a sophomore, Taylor Nix attended CAFNR’s Career Fair hoping to find an internship opportunity that would give her a chance to join a company within the agriculture industry.
Nix found immediate success, serving as a practical farm research assistant for Becky’s Hybrids during the summer of 2020. It was her first exposure to research – something that she quickly found a passion for.
“I knew that I wanted to be involved in agriculture – it’s what brought me to the University of Missouri and why I chose CAFNR,” said Nix, an agricultural education major. “But I also knew that I wanted to gain experiences outside of the classroom. It was really interesting to see the research side, as it was a sector of agriculture that I wasn’t all that familiar with.”
That experience jumpstarted a research journey that has allowed Nix to not only take on her own project but also present research results at numerous conferences. She reached out to Kevin Bradley, professor in the Division of Plant Science and Technology, a month after completing her internship with Beck’s Hybrids. Nix has worked with him since that time, on a handful of projects.
“Dr. Bradley is so inventive with his projects,” Nix said. “There is a vast array of work to get involved in, and it has been really fun to participate in such interesting research.”
Nix has been involved in multiple projects with Bradley, the first of which was centered on worms. She was part of a group who studied how electrocution from the Weed Zapper, a tractor attachment that kills weeds through electricity, and herbicides affect worm populations in the field. She has also researched which weather apps offer the best features for farmers. Most recently, Nix has been part of a team that has performed multiple crop screenings for dicamba resistance.
Her research work has taken place at the Bradford Research Farm, part of the Central Missouri Research, Extension and Education Center (REEC).
“I’ve been really lucky to be able to work with Dr. Bradley, and it’s really awesome that we have farms of this nature that we can utilize for this type of work,” Nix said. “I honestly didn’t even realize how awesome this work would be and it definitely led to other opportunities.”
Nix spent this past summer as a technology development field assistant with Bayer. She has also presented research results at the North Central Weed Science Society annual meeting during the past two years. Nix even won first place for her poster during last year’s event.
“I definitely recommend that students reach out to professors who are doing research,” Nix said. “There are so many opportunities within CAFNR to do this type of work. It led to so many connections. Doing research is definitely one of the best decisions I made while at Mizzou.”
Nix, who is from Washington, Mo., said that her time in FFA as a high school student led her to pursue a degree related to agriculture at Mizzou. She chose agricultural education because of the opportunity to gain experience in a variety of areas.
“I didn’t want to hone in on one specific specialty,” Nix said. “Agricultural education is so well-rounded. I was able to study multiple agriculture topics, such as plant science and animal science, as well as gain other skillsets, such as welding.
“I was also so lucky to be able to work with Dr. (John) Tummons. He deserves all of the recognition and honors possible. His teaching style is so incredible, and he has a way of bringing students in, no matter their major. He’s an amazing educator.
Tummons is an associate teaching professor and director of undergraduate studies for agricultural education and leadership.
Nix chose the teacher certification track within the program. She finished her student teaching in St. James, Mo., last semester.
“I definitely learned a lot through that experience,” Nix said. “While I’m not sure that teaching is the exact path for me, I chose that track because I wanted to have that option available to me. I am passionate about sharing information related to agriculture with the public, so having experience with teaching is something that I’m glad I have.”
As she ends her time at Mizzou, Nix said choosing the agricultural education degree program was also an important one. She said that as she begins looking at future opportunities, she feels like the program set up her well to tackle a variety of careers.
“Right now, I’m interested in something related to sales or crop consulting,” Nix said. “I think I would also like to eventually get back into research, too. I’m really thankful for the connections that I made while I was at MU, especially through my degree program. I feel very prepared to enter the workforce.”