The pandemic forced clubs and organizations at universities across the world to learn how to interact virtually. For the MU Agronomy Club, like so many others, virtual meetings meant fewer hands-on learning and service opportunities. It also led to a decrease in membership.
The Agronomy Club has spent the past year building back its membership base, as well as finding opportunities to serve others.
“The pandemic obviously forced a lot of changes on everyone, and our club did see a drop in numbers over the course of that time,” said William Lee, a junior plant sciences major and current member of the club. “There has also been a bit of a lack of interest in agronomy in general. The average age of a farmer has increased and not as many younger folks are going back to the farm.
“We’ve been working on diversifying what our group is about and attempting to build those numbers back up. We’ve been working hard to network with other College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) clubs as well.”
The club recently held its biggest fundraiser of the year, selling pumpkins to individuals throughout mid-Missouri. There were multiple days throughout October for people to stop by Jefferson Farm and Garden, take a wagon ride to the pumpkin patch and purchase a pumpkin to take home.
Lee said those funds, as well as others they’ll accumulate throughout the year, are being set aside with the hope that they can take the entire club to the national Students of Agronomy, Soil and Environmental Sciences (SASES) conference next year.
“National conferences of this nature are a really great opportunity for clubs to build team camaraderie,” Lee said. “We’re working hard so that we can attend next year.”
In addition to its fundraiser, the Agronomy Club donated many pumpkins from their patch. Some of those pumpkins were showcased during the Show-Me State Games Pumpkin Fun Run. The event, sponsored by both the Show-Me State Games and MU Health Care, brings together participants to encourage health, fitness, family and fun. The top three schools in attendance earned $500 for their physical education departments.
“It’s wonderful, the joy that our pumpkins have brought people,” Lee said. “It’s really fun to see kids out here making memories.”
While the majority of the pumpkins were the traditional orange in color, the Agronomy Club did plant pink pumpkins, too. Those were donated to Alisha’s Pink Pumpkin Painting Party, which was held in mid-October at Jefferson Farm and Garden. Donations are collected during the event and given to the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center Mammography Fund.
CAFNR has partnered with Alisha Moreland and hosted her painting parties for nearly a decade. The unique partnership not only raises funds but also raises awareness for breast cancer.
“We were really happy to donate the pink pumpkins,” Lee said. “Those pumpkins are put to good use and go to such a good cause.”
The Agronomy Club’s donations were an example of service learning, a key part of the RISE Initiative in CAFNR’s Strategic Plan. The plan states that all CAFNR undergraduate students will take part in at least one signature experience while on campus: Research, International, Service Learning and Experiential Learning.