Doing to Learn: Creating Opportunities Through the CAFNR Experience

Incoming freshman Sam Tummons is ready to expand his horizons as a CAFNR student and Missouri State FFA President

For incoming freshman Sam Tummons, helping other people learn and succeed has always been the “why” behind his decisions. This year, Tummons will embark on a journey to help others learn and grow both as the Missouri State FFA President and a student in the Agricultural Education program in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

As a student at Hickman High School in Columbia, Tummons got involved in FFA. When he was interested in participating in career development events or ag classes that his agriculture teachers hadn’t done before, they gave him the reins and supported him as they both learned a new topic. By the time he was a junior, he was helping teach the agricultural mechanics class and coaching the grasslands team.

Sam Tummons was selected as the Missouri State FFA President at the state FFA convention in April. Photo courtesy of the Missouri FFA Association.

“Being able to help other people succeed has always been far, far better than me doing anything myself,” Tummons said of the experience. “That was a lot of fun for me, essentially having a double role on that team. I was a member of the team, but I was also coaching.”

As Tummons continued his FFA experience, which included attending FFA camp and serving as a chapter officer, he decided that running for state FFA office would be a great way to help younger FFA members get the same positive learning experience that he had. While the state officer experience only lasts a year, Tummons plans to continue following his passion as a high school agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor.

“It still seems unreal that I can do something that’s so much fun as a job and can get paid for it,” Tummons said.

Tummons has always had the “inside scoop” on the CAFNR experience. He grew up spending time after school with his father, Professor John Tummons, in his office in Gentry Hall. While his dad, an associate teaching professor for the Agricultural Education and Leadership program, was a big influence on his college choice, Sam explored other college options and kept coming back to CAFNR.

“Of course I’m coming from a little bit of a biased perspective,” said Tummons, “but the agriculture education program here is not like anything I’ve seen at any of the other colleges in Missouri. None of them feel like home in the same way.”

While Columbia has been home for most of his life, Tummons is looking forward to a new educational experience in CAFNR.

“One of the drawbacks to going to Columbia Public Schools is that it’s so big that [different programs] don’t have to share kids, so being involved in multiple things in school will be new to me.”

While he committed all of his focus to FFA in high school, Tummons is looking forward to participating in Christian Campus House activities, Mizzou Ducks Unlimited, and other campus organizations in the fall, in addition to capitalizing on his state FFA officer experience in high school classrooms throughout the state. Through CAFNR, state officers can get course credit for their work in high school classrooms. Tummons is looking forward to better preparing himself for his future as an ag teacher by exploring FFA programs beyond what he experienced in Columbia.

Tummons attending Summer Welcome with his parents, Elizabeth and John. Photo courtesy of John Tummons.

“Freshman year for me is going to be a lot of going to see what’s out there, building some connections with students, and emphasizing on what I want to study during my CAFNR experience,” he said. “CAFNR is going to give me a super strong platform to go and develop as a person.”

While Tummons grew up around his professors and knows many of his CAFNR classmates from their FFA participation in high school, he is also eager to explore new course content during his time at Mizzou through a minor.

“If I minor in animal science or agricultural systems management, there will be much different people in those classes than there are in ag ed,” he said. “I’m looking forward to meeting people I wouldn’t necessarily have met on the normal track I’m starting on.”

While starting college is a big change, Tummons is excited to officially join the CAFNR family as a new student.

“I feel like I’m supported by everybody in CAFNR, so that’s a pretty cool thing to come into,” Tummons said, “with everybody knowing you, growing up with you and supporting you in whatever you want to do.”