AMES, Iowa — An Iowa State University student was selected to attend the Farm Foundation Round Table Cultivator Program in Washington, D.C. in January.
Adam Bittner, a junior in global resource systems from York, Pennsylvania, is only the second Iowa State student during the past 35 years invited to attend the program. He was nominated by David Acker, Academic and Global Programs associate dean and the Raymond and Mary Baker Chair in Global Agriculture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Acker said the college encourages students to apply and a selection committee nominates two candidates to attend the program.
“We nominate students who are strong academically and engaged with the issues surrounding farms, ag policy, and who are interested in engaging with agribusiness leaders throughout the United States,” Acker said.
Bittner said the round-table discussions are empowering for young people who want to continue to improve agriculture. He enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about agriculture at the national and international level and interact with industry leaders.
The Farm Foundation hosts the round table event and invites leaders in the agriculture and food industry to discuss issues and share ideas. Along with invited guests, the Farm Foundation selects six upper-class or graduate-level students from universities with accredited agricultural programs to attend the Cultivator Program.
The event started Jan. 8 with a day-long tour of agricultural sites in the Washington, D.C. area. On Jan.9 and 10 the program sessions focused on policy issues, presentations and discussions related to the future of food and agriculture.
Students attending the round table developed posters depicting their research or interests pertaining to agriculture. Bittner’s poster focused on his experience in Neuquén, Argentina, in the spring of 2019. He worked at a 100,000 head cattle ranch, which included milking cows and a working garden.
“I learned firsthand about waste management, sourcing your own food and the skills required to work and live in a remote living environment,” Bittner said. “I chose this topic [for my poster] because my experience at the ranch changed my understanding of life.”
Bittner shared his experiences in agriculture and perceptions of the future with industry leaders during the three-day program. Bittner said he connected with some inspiring individuals and was an advocate for next generation agriculturalists.
“On one of the last days, I had the opportunity to hear Jack Bobo, the CEO of Futurity and a ‘Food Prophet’ speak about people’s connection to food and agriculture,” Bittner said. “I see Bobo as a role model because he isn’t afraid to take risks and push agriculture into the future. His vision and drive for the industry are truly remarkable.”
Bittner said he wants to help consumers develop a better connection with their food system and help farmers become more sustainable.
“By attending the conference, I reaffirmed that my studies reflect my passion,” Bittner said. “I think it’s easy to become lost in college and worry about post-graduation plans, but after talking to the Round Table members I know that I will have opportunities in the future.”
— Amber Friedrichsen, Iowa State University
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