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MU Agronomy Club Sees Success at Students of Agronomy, Soils, and Environmental Sciences (SASES) Annual Meeting

MU Agronomy Club members attended the Students of Agronomy, Soils, and Environmental Sciences (SASES) Annual Meeting in St. Louis, where they competed in a variety of activities and competitions.

The club won third place in the student poster competition, with a poster that highlighted the club’s community service project of growing pink pumpkins to raise money for breast cancer awareness. The poster was presented by William Lee, club president and plant sciences senior, and Felicity Guttman, one of the club’s vice presidents and plant sciences junior. A group of MU Agronomy Club members also participated in a crop judging competition.

SASES is the undergraduate program of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). To learn more or get involved in the MU Agronomy Club, contact president William Lee at

Lara Stefani wins Best Undergraduate Student Poster Award at the Metabolomics Association of North America Annual Conference

Lara Stefani, sophomore biochemistry major and Interdisciplinary Plant Group undergraduate student, won Best Undergraduate Student Poster at the Metabolomics Association of North America Annual Conference, held Oct. 23-27.

Her poster, entitled “Potential Nutraceutical Management and Treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome with American Elderberries,” was one almost 100 poster entries presented to an international audience.

Stefani’s research was produced as part of a CAFNR undergraduate research internship.

Grant Norfleet Selected as National FFA Secretary

Grant Norfleet, senior agricultural education major, was selected to serve as the National FFA Secretary at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, Nov. 1 -4.

Each year, the National FFA Organization selects six student members to represent the organization as a national FFA officer.

The primary responsibility of a national officer is to serve the organization in local, state, national and international activities in a way that will inform, motivate and inspire FFA members, advisors, state staff, teachers and others to achieve the mission, strategies and core goals of the organization.

National officers dedicate one year of service with the organization. The time is spent representing student membership during meetings with the National FFA Board of Directors, facilitating workshops that bring leadership and knowledge to FFA members, delivering motivational speeches and serving as advocates for FFA on a global scale.

Norfleet was selected by a committee of FFA members from across the nation during a rigorous interview process. Read more about Norfleet’s CAFNR experience and journey to national FFA office here.

George Frees, Senior Biochemistry and Plant Science major, Receives National FFA American Star in Agriscience Award

George Frees, senior biochemistry and plant science major, received the National FFA American Star in Agriscience Award at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, Nov. 1-4.

As a member of the Cass Career Center FFA chapter, George Frees began an agriscience-based supervised agricultural experience project. Throughout his time at Mizzou, Frees has used his biochemistry and plant science education to continue his agriscience project, studying how treating sugarcane with gibberellic acid – a growth hormone sometimes applied to citrus fruits to promote cold tolerance – increases the amount of ethanol biofuel that can be produced from the plant.

“Something that’s always been very important to me is environmentalism and proper stewardship of the environment,” Frees said. “So, it just became a very natural thing to me to combine my interest in sugarcane and my interest in the production of renewable fuels.”

Graphic with a picture of George Frees and award information. Photo courtesy of the National FFA Organization.

The American Star Awards, including American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience, are presented to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of supervised agricultural experience (SAE). A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows students to learn by doing, by owning or operating an agricultural business, working or serving an internship at an agriculture-based business, or conducting an agriculture-based scientific experiment and reporting results.

Other requirements to achieve the award include demonstrating top management skills; completing key agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements; and earning an American FFA Degree, the organization’s highest level of student accomplishment.

The American Star in Agriscience is awarded to the FFA member who demonstrates the top agriscience-based SAE in the nation.

Frees also serves as the University of Missouri campus beekeeper and works in four different campus labs. After graduation, he plans to pursue a master’s or doctorate in ethnobotany, the study of how native peoples around the world use medicinal plants.

Read more about Frees award here.

MU Collegiate Livestock Judging Team Sees Success at Several Fall Contests

The MU Collegiate Livestock Judging team, including Allison Eitel, senior in agriculture; Brady Schnelten, senior in animal sciences; Grant Stafford, senior in agriculture; Shane Vehige, senior in animal sciences; Addie Thessen, senior in plant sciences; and Jenna Blessing, senior in agriculture, have had a very successful fall season. Recent contests and placements include:

Professor Lidvall Memorial Contest, Cookeville, Tennessee

  • Reserve Team Overall, High Team Cattle, Reserve Team Reasons
  • Jenna Blessing – High Individual Overall, High Individual Reasons, High Individual Cattle
  • Shane Vehige – 2nd Individual Hogs
  • Addie Thessen – 5th Individual Overall, 2nd Individual Cattle, 3rd Individual Hogs

World Beef Expo, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • 8th Place Team Honors

Keystone International Livestock Expo, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

  • 4th Team Overall
  • 2nd Team Reasons
  • 2nd Team Cattle
  • 4th Team Sheep
  • 4th Team Hogs
  • Jenna Blessing – 3rd Individual Overall; High Individual Reasons; 5th Individual Cattle and 9th Individual Hogs
  • Brady Schnelten – 7th Individual Cattle
  • Addie Thessen – 9th Individual Hogs

The team is coached by animal science instructor Tawnie DeJong and assistant coach Clint Bailey, senior agriculture major.

MU Collegiate Soil Judging Team Places Third at Soil Science Society of America Region V Contest

The MU Collegiate Soil Judging Team won third place overall and third place for team judging in the Soil Science Society of America Region V soil judging contest. This placement qualifies them for the national contest in Ames, Iowa, April 22-26, 2024. The team includes environmental science majors Victoria Marshall, Kali Dolson, Isaac Reinwald, Alex Kalisz and India Williams.

Held in Sturgis, South Dakota, on Oct. 1-6, the contest week included three days of practice pits, where students learn local soils. Each team member judged two soil pits individually and three soil pits as a team. MU competed against teams from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota. Top individual winners for the team were Victoria Marshall, 3rd place, and Kali Dolson, 6th place. Isaac Reinwald, Alex Kalisz, and India Williams also finished in the top 15 individuals.

The team is coached by Kerry Clark and assistant coaches Joey Meinert, Hunter Seubert and Lindsey Diehl. MU students interested in joining the team should contact Kerry at

Mizzou Student Chapter of the American Institute of Floral Designers Win Awards at AIFD National Symposium in Chicago

The MU SAIFD Chapter placed 3rd in the nation in the student competition during the American Institute of Floral Designers National Symposium in Chicago, July 1-6.

Three students, Alexandra Gast, Korrin Zerr and Brenna Heavin, competed individually, and then their scores were combined to determine the team placing. During the competition, students are told the design categories the evening before the competition and receive a surprise package of fresh products and hard goods upon arrival the next morning. The students then have four hours to complete four designs: Flowers to Wear, a headpiece for a Gala; Sympathy Tribute, for someone who has influenced your floral career; Interpretative Design; and Life Cycle of a Flower and Bridal, bouquet for a flower girl. Each student is evaluated based on the elements and principles of floral design.

Korrin Zerr took first place in the Flowers to Wear and Sympathy Tribute categories and placed 2nd overall individually.

Students interested in learning more about floral design and SAIFD should contact Lesleighan Cravens.

Mizzou Students Awarded Agriculture Future of America Scholarships

Seven Mizzou students were selected to receive Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Scholarships. AFA’s mission is to “build bridges for young leaders, fostering engagement and innovation in food and agriculture.”

The students were selected based on their career goals, leadership and community involvement and financial need. Recipients will also receive admission to the AFA Leaders Conference in November. AFA experiences connect students to a diverse community of peers and professionals who are passionate about food and agriculture. The goal of the experiences is to challenge the way students think about themselves, their potential career and the agriculture industry.

Selected students include:

Makenna Stundebeck, Freshman, Agriculture
Chariton County, MO

Baylor Montgomery, Freshman, Agribusiness Management
Linn County, MO

Meg Shively, Freshman, Agricultural Education
North Shelby, MO

McClane Johnson, Freshman, Agriculture
St. Joseph, MO

Karson Calvin, Freshman, Agricultural Education
Troy, MO

Ava Kemper, Freshman, Biochemistry
Troy, MO

Claire Walker, Freshman, Agribusiness Management
Livingston County, MO

Torq’N Tigers Teams Take 2nd and 5th Places at ASABE Quarter-Scale Tractor Competition

The University of Missouri Torq’N Tigers had two teams compete in the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition this month, with one being named Performance Event Winner. The X-Team took those event honors, and second place overall out of eight teams; the A-Team finished in fifth place out of 18 teams.

The event took place June 1-5 in Peoria, Ill. The MU Torq’N Tigers quarter-scale tractor team competes in the competition each year.

This year’s competition was particularly challenging, said advisor Kent Shannon, assistant teaching professor of agricultural systems technology. The A-Team experienced two mechanical failures, including losing an exhaust bolt in the durability test and a pulley failure in the first hook, but still had two first-place pulls out of three total.

The team provides its members the opportunity to apply classroom knowledge and gain hands-on experience, as well as develop professional skills and network, Shannon said. Students are challenged to harness the power and torque of a specified stock engine during the competition, to maximize performance during a series of challenges.

According to the ASABE website, for the competition, “teams of students are given a 31-hp Briggs & Stratton engine and a set of Titan tires. The design of their tractor is up to them. A panel of industry experts then judge each design for innovation, manufacturability, serviceability, safety, sound level, and ergonomics. Teams also submit a written design report in advance of the competition, and on-site, they must sell their design, in a formal presentation to industry experts playing the role of a corporate management team. Finally, machines are put to the test in three performance events – three tractor pulls, a maneuverability course, and a durability course.”

Members of the 2023 Torq’N Tigers team include:

  • Will Adkins, senior, agricultural systems technology
  • Sierra Beaver, sophomore, agricultural education
  • Trevor Blanken, sophomore, mechanical engineering
  • Trace Chambers, spring 2023 graduate, agricultural systems technology
  • Garrett Clark, spring 2023 graduate, plant sciences
  • Graysen Clark, sophomore, agribusiness management
  • Jonathan Ebbesmeyer, junior, mechanical engineering
  • Aiden Engbert, sophomore, computer science
  • James Fischer, spring 2023 graduate, agricultural systems technology
  • Ethan Gutz, senior, agricultural systems technology/agribusiness management
  • Will Hansen, senior, plant sciences
  • Jake Lakenburger, sophomore, mechanical engineering
  • Evan Masterson, sophomore, agricultural systems technology
  • Andrew Slater, fall 2022 graduate, mechanical engineering

CAFNR Students Tapped for Honor Societies

CAFNR students took part in induction ceremonies for Mizzou honor societies April 28 as part of 2023 Tap Day. Inducted were:

  • Andres Mesa (center), doctoral student in rural sociology, Rollins Society
  • Trillion Rosborough (left), senior in animal sciences, and Kathryn Wenger (right), senior in biochemistry, Omicron Delta Kappa

Tap Day is a tradition dating back to 1917, where small groups of students are selected (or “tapped”) by their peers to join one of MU’s six secret honorary societies. The six societies – QEBH, Mystical Seven, LSV, Mortar Board, Omicron Delta Kappa and the Rollins Society – honor new members for service, leadership and commitment to the Mizzou community. The new initiates’ identities are kept secret until Tap Day, when they were publicly revealed. Each society also honor taps MU staff and faculty members who have contributed significantly to the university.