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Connections and Career Development: From Agriculture Future of America College Student to American Farm Bureau Staff Member

Matthew Myers

Public Policy Analyst

photo credit: Matthew Myers, Used with Permission

When Matthew Myers got involved with Agriculture Future of America (AFA) during his senior year at Oklahoma State University, he didn’t imagine it would eventually lead to a career in Washington, D.C. Through AFA’s cornerstone event, AFA Leaders Conference – a four-day, four-track professional development and networking event for undergraduate students in food, agriculture and natural resources – the direction of Myers’ path was set.

“A huge Opportunity Fair takes place during the AFA Leaders Conference each year and promotes meaningful connections between industry representatives and aspiring students. I was able to engage with AFBF staff who shared about Farm Bureau opportunities for young professionals,” Myers said.

For AFBF, Leaders Conference provides a venue for staff to meet with top talent in agriculture to promote an understanding and appreciation for the mission of Farm Bureau, so students value its role in agriculture as they enter the workforce. It is also a space to promote state and D.C.-based internship opportunities, full-time jobs and the benefits of membership – such as involvement in Young Farmers & Ranchers, Collegiate Farm Bureau and opportunities like the Social Media Ambassador program.

As a December graduate, Leaders Conference also offered the perfect opportunity for Myers to hear about full-time roles at various organizations, including AFBF. A quick conversation at the Farm Bureau booth in the Opportunity Fair led to a job application, which eventually brought Myers to Washington, D.C., as a public policy analyst for AFBF.

“During the Opportunity Fair, I was thrilled to discover the diverse career paths within agriculture that extended well beyond traditional farming and ranching. I realized that my future lay in agricultural policy, and both AFA and AFBF played pivotal roles in making that vision a reality. My previous internship on Capitol Hill with a member of the House Committee on Agriculture gave me firsthand insight into the significant impact farmers and ranchers have when they share their stories. In my current role, I am privileged to listen to these stories and help amplify them to legislators and other key stakeholders in D.C., who might not otherwise hear them,” Myers said.

Connections like these emphasize the importance of AFBF’s strategic partnerships with youth-serving agriculture organizations like 4-H, FFA, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, and AFA. Each serves to develop young agriculturists and beginning professionals who can positively contribute to their local agriculture communities and generate new ideas and leadership for county Farm Bureaus.

Sharing more about his experience with AFA, Myers reflects, “I was able to meet driven, passionate and dedicated students, many of whom have become close friends, colleagues and even roommates in the D.C. area and beyond.”

AFA alumni go on to serve as pivotal leaders within agriculture and community organizations and are prepared to make a difference in their places of work. Matthew Myers serves as an amazing example of what is possible through the intentional partnership between AFBF and AFA, which was solidified through a memorandum of understanding in January 2023.

2024 AFA Leaders Conference

Farm Bureau members should encourage college students in food, agriculture and natural resources to apply for the transformational experience that is AFA Leaders Conference. Applications can be found at agfuture.org/experiences/afa-leaders-conference.