When Grant Norfleet graduated from Mexico High School, he chose to attend Mizzou because it was “far away enough to get the college experience but close enough to keep mom and dad happy.” Now in his senior year as an agricultural education, communication and leadership major with minors in agribusiness management and digital storytelling, Norfleet has gained much more from his not-too-close, not-too-far experience.
An extremely active CAFNR and Mizzou student, Norfleet works in CAFNR Career Services as a career success coach, serves as president of CAFNR Ambassadors, as a member of the Agricultural Education Society, and a board member for the Mizzou Student Foundation. He has been active with Missouri FFA since he was in high school, serving as a Missouri FFA state officer during his freshman year and as the Missouri FFA Camp leadership director this summer. His experience as leadership director allowed him to apply the skills he’s learned in his degree program to a real-world scenario.
Through a class with Rebecca Mott, Agricultural Education and Leadership 4340: Designing and Delivering Educational and Leadership Programs, he learned how to edit and improve facilitation training for the 16 current Missouri FFA state officers and a 10-part leadership curriculum series for the more than 1,000 Missouri FFA members who attended the camp. During the class, he developed, from scratch, a three-part reflection series to encourage campers to process and apply the content from the camp leadership sessions.
“The hands-on learning experiences our college offers are second to none,” said Norfleet. “Classes, especially in the agricultural education department, have gotten me real hands-on application of skills.”
Norfleet’s curriculum incorporated many ideas from his CAFNR education with a theme of “Cultivating Community.”
“The program worked on how we can, as leaders in agriculture and FFA members, connect better amongst each other, so we can then connect with others to share the story of agriculture, FFA and leadership,” said Norfleet. “In agriculture there’s a big divide right now because we’re so focused on how we’re raising and producing our products that we believe that’s the only right way. We need to set our differences aside and realize we all play a role in agriculture.”
Norfleet’s FFA and CAFNR experiences will culminate to one rigorous display of his skills at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, Nov. 1-4. He was selected out of several equally active and accomplished Missouri FFA members in May to represent Missouri on the national stage as an officer candidate through an application, interview, writing, public speaking and media exercise, judged by three Missouri agricultural industry professionals.
“The National FFA process is even more intense, and they’re really looking at how well-rounded of a person you are,” said Norfleet. “My CAFNR experience has given me the skills to connect with a variety of people with a variety of backgrounds both in and outside of agriculture, and that will help me better showcase myself and Missouri in this process. I’m also excited to use all the resources available to me on campus to help me prepare for the national process.”
Norfleet is using his CAFNR professors, some of whom sought him out as a potential CAFNR student while he competed in FFA events in high school, to study, practice and prepare for the in-depth interview process. The process will require him to be well versed in communicating 15 hot topics in agriculture, education and FFA to a variety of audiences through two personal interviews, stakeholder and media conversation rounds, and student workshop facilitation. Norfleet has already submitted a letter of intent, resume, recommendation letters and will submit video to the student-led nominating committee.
“What’s weird is they’ll know more about me than I know about myself by the time I arrive in Indianapolis,” Norfleet joked.
Norfleet knows from his experience as a Missouri FFA state officer his freshman year that CAFNR staff are extremely supportive of his endeavors in FFA and other organizations. This faculty support has helped him maximize the number of extracurricular activities he could experience as a student.
“I’ve never felt like a number in CAFNR,” said Norfleet. “They support you as a whole person, rather than just as a student.”
If Norfleet is selected as a National FFA officer, he will take time off from school until his year of service is over, but no matter the outcome, he is eager to represent his home state on the national stage.
“I’m most excited for the experience to showcase not only what Missouri FFA has done, but also opportunities the National FFA Organization provides for students across the nation, including myself,” said Norfleet. “It will be a culmination of all my skills up to this point, and I’ll get to make great connections with the nominating committee and many other students from all over the country. I just want to have fun, show up authentically myself, and showcase the best version of myself and the best version of Missouri FFA.”