CAFNR Outstanding Junior: Jacob Blank

Blank, an agricultural education major, earns prestigious student award

Jacob Blank didn’t realize it at the time, but coming to the University of Missouri would open his eyes in ways he would have never believed. Originally, Blank was attending MU out of necessity – as Mizzou features a strong veterinary school and Blank was interested in obtaining a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM).

Once Blank got more involved in the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR), he felt a new inspiration.

“In all honesty, my personal decision to attend Mizzou was truly unbeknown to me until I started participating more frequently in CAFNR,” Blank said. “When I arrived at Mizzou, my initial goal was to double major in animal sciences and agricultural education, and then apply to the college of veterinary medicine in order to obtain my DVM. However, as I began my academic career, I suddenly became aware of and respected the other aspects of agriculture that I was not exposed to back in my hometown of Richland, Mo.

“I felt that this was my sense of inspiration, and my passion for educating others about these aspects of agriculture grew both inside and outside of the classroom. The true turning point which led me to alter my career path by obtaining a major in agricultural education with a minor in animal sciences, was that I felt empowered by the idea that I would be held responsible for the two main industries that allow the world to grow and prosper. Those two industries include agriculture and education, and by acclimating those two essential aspects into my life and academic career, I felt that my purpose in life was firmly planted in something honorable and valuable to society.”

Blank’s new passion has led him to get incredibly involved in CAFNR and numerous agricultural-related organizations. As Blank finishes his junior year, his involvement and passion for agriculture has led to the CAFNR Outstanding Junior award.

“Being named CAFNR’s Outstanding Junior was most definitely an overwhelming and humbling experience for me,” Blank said. “Being one of the first members from my family to attend a four-year college, this aspect truly amplified my feelings of excitement when I was notified of this achievement. Additionally, at that time I felt that it was also my responsibility to share this award with my family back home, as they were the ones who set me on the correct path for achieving this honor. I realize that the values learned while on our family farm has led me here, and I feel obligated to share this title with them.”

Blank, an agricultural education major, is part of the Mizzou Agricultural Education and Leadership Ambassadors team, along with the Missouri Teach Ag Ambassadors. He is part of the Swine Club, Dairy Club, Litton Leadership Scholars, Agricultural Education Society and Independent Aggies, among many other organizations. Blank has worked with the Mizzou Meat Market since October 2019, too.

“Mr. Blank has a proven track record of academic achievement,” said Adam Cletzer, assistant professor in the Division of Applied Social Sciences, in his nomination letter. “He maintains a near-perfect GPA despite taking challenging coursework. He has studied abroad in Scotland. He is a joy to have in class; he always has insightful comments or a fun story. He’s always the last one to finish when taking a test because he has to tell you everything he knows in the margins.

“He is also a true member of the college community. Mr. Blank has served for two years as an ambassador for my degree program, helping to recruit the next generation of agriculture teachers by sharing his CAFNR experiences with high schoolers and their families. He has given up his spring break to work for Camp Ca-Pow, which helps low-income middle school students learn about college and career opportunities in hopes that they will be the first in their family to get a degree. And he is an active member of several CAFNR student organizations where he is respected and liked by his peers.”

Blank’s trip to Scotland happened in 2019 and was centered around the equine industry, an industry Blank has been active in since he was 8 years old.

“Needless to say, Scotland was by far the most exciting and enlightening experience that I have been a part of,” Blank said. “My grandfather always says, ‘You have to know that you don’t know,’ and I felt that it was my time to truly discover some aspects that I was unaware of. Being able to actively participate in another culture for the summer and become engaged with their perspective of the industry was truly remarkable. One of my favorite moments from Scotland was meeting a small family farmer who bred and trained Welsh Mountain Ponies. As we were walking through his herd, we started conversing about our personal and professional lives, and it turned out that he used to be an agricultural educator in Scotland as well. To this day, I will never forget the impact he had on me, and how that moment fortified my passion for agricultural education not only in the United States, but across the world.”

Blank is hoping to share his passion for agriculture in whatever future career he decides to pursue.

“While I am not too set on any specific pathway, my intentions are to become an agricultural educator at the secondary level, and then progress onward to become a post-secondary educator at a four-year university (hopefully the University of Missouri),” Blank said. “Another professional avenue that I have considered is being employed in a career that allows me to advocate for agriculture through an outreach approach, such as Missouri Extension offices or the American Farm Bureau. Regardless of where I end up, I plan to continue the family farm and extend the diversified agricultural operation to ensure that the values of my family are upheld, and to share these experiences with other generations along life’s ventures.”