Groton woman attends premier training in Kansas City

Farm Forum

In 1997, 65 students sat in the Westin Crown Center Century Ballroom to kick off the first Agriculture Future of America Leaders Conference with a message from Captain Charlie Plumb. On Nov. 6, 2014, nearly 600 students gathered just down the street in Crown Center Exhibit Hall B to kick off that same event with a message from the same opening speaker 17 years later.

“Since the first AFA Leaders Conference, our delegation has grown significantly, but our commitment to creating a quality experience that prepares young leaders for the future remains the same,” said Russ Weathers, AFA president and CEO.

AFA Leaders Conference annually welcomes outstanding college men and women pursuing degrees in the agriculture and food industry. Selected through a competitive application process, these students are passionate and committed to the future of agriculture. Joellen Gonsoir of Groton, a freshman at the University of Minnesota Crookston, was sponsored by Water Street Solutions of Peoria, Ill. In addition to her sponsorship to attend the conference, Gonsoir will also receive a $1600 scholarship for the spring semester from Water Street Solutions. Gonsoir is double majoring in agricultural business and communications.

This year’s delegation represented over 20 areas of study and 92 schools from 37 states. Throughout the four-day experience, delegates were encouraged and challenged by recognized industry leaders. Sessions highlighted the theme “Activate,” which was developed by the 2014 AFA student leaders.

Delegates were broken into four tracks that paralleled their year in school. Each track provided professional skill development and networking opportunities. The AFA Opportunity Fair, held during conference, connected students to internship, job, study abroad and graduate school opportunities.