Past and present CAFNR students learn and grow at the Missouri State Fair

Since 1901, the Missouri State Fair has been ‘Where Traditions Grow,’ and CAFNR students have also grown their skills and network at the yearly ‘ag family reunion’.

The fairgrounds in Sedalia become a summer home to youth livestock exhibitors, agriculture education teachers, and agriculture industry professionals for 11 days each year. For many Missouri State Fair participants, CAFNR also has been a part of their life and their fair experience both inside and outside of the Mizzou Central building.

For Clint Bailey, rising senior majoring in agriculture in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, MSF was a staple in his childhood. As a youth exhibitor, Bailey and his sister showed hogs and sheep, but he says his time in CAFNR has created a different learning environment at the fair.

“As an exhibitor, it was kind of more about education,” said Bailey. “This year will be a really unique State Fair for me. We’re showing sheep like we usually do, then I’ll be helping in the Missouri Corn booth for my internship, promoting corn production and talking about trade and policy. I will also be judging and supervising some specialty cattle shows, like mini Herefords, Beefalo, and Brahman.”

Bailey said he was asked to help out with the specialty shows due to his time on the Mizzou Livestock Judging team.

Chloe Momphard, CAFNR animal sciences alumna and current Mizzou College of Veterinary Medicine student, spoke of MSF as a place where all her agricultural knowledge and CAFNR skills came together, much like Bailey’s.

While serving as a Missouri Department of Agriculture intern in the summer of 2020, Momphard was also still serving as Missouri State Fair Queen, a title she earned in 2019 and held for two years due to the pandemic. During her time as queen, she switched between helping the state veterinarian check in livestock, talking about ag policy as a Missouri Farm Bureau Ambassador, and wearing the crown to interact with fair goers.

Momphard said this experience taught her how to represent the agricultural industry to fair goers who weren’t necessarily from a rural background.

“In agriculture, we do a fantastic job of talking to our own crowd, but those aren’t the people that we need to spend so much time and effort on,” said Momphard. “And so learning to approach conversations with people who aren’t familiar with agriculture, especially at the State Fair, has been really interesting. I had a good foundation to have those conversations in part because of my experience in CAFNR and my mentors there, who are comfortable in approaching those conversations themselves.”

Jim Spencer Jr., CAFNR agricultural education graduate and current Missouri FFA Southwest District Supervisor for Agricultural Education, attended his first Missouri State Fair in 1985 as a Missouri FFA State Officer. As a CAFNR student, then high school agriculture teacher, he continued to work at the fair, and this year will be supervising the FFA Building and the students working in it, as well as serving as livestock superintendent. He is passionate about introducing students to new opportunities during their time at the fair.

“It’s an A to Z type of event, with all the different topics,” said Spencer. “Students get to network with each other and expose themselves to new experiences, but they also get to meet some of our stakeholders and leaders in the Missouri ag industry.”

The high schoolers Spencer works with see every facet of the agriculture industry at the Missouri State Fair, then Baylee Asbury, member of the Youth in Ag Committee within MSF, works to ensure they can capitalize on what they’ve learned. Asbury, who obtained a degree in Agricultural Economics from CAFNR, grew up in the Sedalia area and has never missed a State Fair.

“When I was in high school I worked concessions during the fair,” Asbury said. “I would save my tips every day and then go to Mizzou Central and buy another color of the Mizzou T-shirts. By the time I started my freshman year I owned nearly every color; they were a huge hit.”

Now, Asbury works as the director of outreach and education for the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. As an agriculture professional and member of the Youth in Ag Committee, she leverages the many great agriculture industry partners that gather at MSF to serve students.

“We want to make sure Missouri agriculture can provide as many resources as possible to those students and keep them in our great in-state ag programs. We raise funds to ensure those students can stay in Missouri for college and then continue to contribute to Missouri agriculture as adults.”

To learn more about how CAFNR can continue the learning opportunities that start at MSF, visit Mizzou Central at the Missouri State Fair, Aug. 10-20. Visit to learn more about how we Serve Missouri. Deliver Mizzou.