COLUMBIA, Mo. — Like the beloved columns that stand strong on our campus, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources alumni stand strong in their support of students. Helping alumni make their impact are three CAFNR students.
Madison Byrd, Emily Eitel and Katie St. Pierre are the alumni relations interns for the CAFNR Alumni Association.
“The alumni interns are vital to the success of our alumni events and board meetings,” says Bryan Garton, senior associate dean and director of academic programs for CAFNR. “They assist in planning and conducting the annual CAFNR Tiger Classic Golf Tournament, Homecoming Tailgate, CAFNR Week Bonfire and CAFNR Unlimited.”
The students were drawn to the internship because of their love for the iconic black and gold colors, but more importantly, love for CAFNR.
“I kind of applied for this internship to grow in my networking, but this is also kind of my way of giving back to the school that gave me so much,” says Madison, who is from Keytesville, Missouri. Madison graduated with a degree in science and agricultural journalism in May of 2018 and is currently a graduate student studying agricultural leadership, communication and education. Madison comes from a long line of Mizzou-goers and is a CAFNR legacy.
“I did not even apply to other colleges because from the time I was 5 years old, I knew I wanted to be a Tiger and follow in the footsteps, or paw prints, of the ones before me,” says Madison. “Tiger pride runs so deep in my family, and I knew that Mizzou was the exact place for me.”
Like many CAFNR students, Madison came from a small town and the transition to Mizzou was huge.
“While it is a big and impressive college, to me, it’s small and tight-knit,” says Madison. “When I was in high school, I had two brothers in CAFNR, so I had always heard about their experiences and how it made them feel right at home. I wanted nothing more than see for myself the legacy of CAFNR.”
Meeting accomplished alumni all while supporting her college drew Katie, who is from Troy, Missouri, to the internship.
“The opportunity to network with such influential alumni while giving back to CAFNR and getting to plan the fundraisers seemed like something that would be really exciting and unique,” says Katie.
“I chose Mizzou for a multitude of reasons, but mainly because it felt like home,” she says. “I grew up attending MU football games with my family, coming to campus for FFA contests, and when I took my official campus tour, I knew that there was no other place that I’d rather spend four years at. Coming to Mizzou has given me so many opportunities, experiences and has easily been one of the greatest decisions of my life.”
Katie didn’t come from an agriculture background, but fell in love with the experiences she gained while being a member of the National FFA Organization and knew she wanted agriculture to play a role in her future. After working as a bank teller for two years in high school, Katie decided to combine her interest in finance with her newly-found passion for agriculture by majoring in agribusiness management. She is currently a junior.
“CAFNR truly is a family,” says Katie. “I knew that the faculty and staff in the college genuinely cared for me and wanted to see me succeed. CAFNR offers so many opportunities, scholarships and experiences for students that the decision to choose CAFNR was a fairly easy one. The network of alumni and influential leaders in the agriculture industry showed me how valuable a CAFNR degree truly is.”
Like the other interns, alumni connections interested Emily in the internship.
“I knew I would be able to connect with the alumni, which played a big role in my decision to apply,” says Emily.
“Both of my parents are MU alumni so the brain washing started early,” says Emily, who is currently a junior. “I had been on campus to attend football and basketball games. I grew up in a small town so I wanted somewhere that was big. Mizzou is big, but not so big that I felt lost.”
After growing up on a cattle farm near Novinger, Missouri, and showing both cattle and pigs, Emily knew all throughout high school she wanted to major in animal sciences.
“When I came for my Mizzou visit, I met with several different animal science professors. Each of them talked to me about my interests and they all seemed to genuinely care about what they were researching and teaching at MU. One professor took me through the entire animal science building. I felt like a VIP member of the animal science wing. By the time my visit was over, I knew where I needed to be.”
This year, the interns have taken on even bigger roles with the retirement of long-time Director of Alumni Relations Dana Brown Haynes. Their first hurdle was planning CAFNR Unlimited.
“Without a true alumni relations director, we’ve really had to be organized and ensure that we’re crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s to produce successful events, especially with board members being spread across the country,” says Katie.
The CAFNR experience is memorable because of the vast opportunities it has for students to learn both inside and outside the classroom. The alumni relations internship has allowed for Madison, Katie and Emily to grow.
“Serving as an intern is also a very valuable experience for these students as they learn and apply transferable communication, organizational and event planning skills,” says Garton.
“I have learned how incredible CAFNR is,” says Madison. “Granted, I’ve always known how incredible it was, but all of the work that it takes. We do a lot of work with donor relations and how to maintain good, genuine and sincere relationships with those people. It’s just incredible to see those relationships being formed and continued and all the work that goes in to making this college what it is. I was mind blown; it was awesome.”
“I’ve learned how to multitask, really learned how to communicate effectively, how to get the job done and how to create successful events,” says Katie.
The interns have also learned even more about the importance of alumni and the role they play in CAFNR.
“I see the impact that the alumni have and the ways that they can give back to students,” says Emily. “My local alumni chapter helped me with scholarships and making Mizzou feel like home. It has definitely made me want to be a part of the alumni association after graduation.”
One of their favorite parts of the internship is the people.
“We all have agriculture in common, but we all have a passion for CAFNR and I love hearing those stories,” says Madison.
“It’s just really cool to see a group of people so passionate, so excited about CAFNR and so willing to give back to their college,” says Katie. “It’s really inspiring and it really motivates me for when I graduate college.”
As for after graduation, the interns plan on becoming members of the CAFNR Alumni Association.
“I think it’s really important for students to reflect and look back the ways the alumni association helped them when they were in college and then want to be involved in it when they graduate to help students in the same way,” says Katie. “Our board works hard to continue CAFNR’s excellence and overall just contribute to the excellence of Mizzou.”
The alumni relations interns are typically hired at the beginning of the fall or spring semester, depending on when a previous intern graduates. There are generally three interns, but at times there have been just two. The next time a position is open, it will be posted on the Hire Mizzou Tigers website and will be communicated with all CAFNR students via email. Interested applicants will be instructed to send a cover letter and resume to the alumni relations director.
— Jacqueline Janorschke, University of Missouri
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