Their Next Chapter: How My Friends Are Going to Greatly Influence the Ag Industry

From left to right: Wade Reiter, Alex Kinsey, (Me), Claire Morris, and Bailey Carpenter

A common question that students who are majoring in agriculture often get is, “Well, what can you do with that degree? Farm?” It can be discouraging and difficult to explain to those who are not familiar with the number of jobs that are available with any type of agriculture degree. Even though most of us enjoy production agriculture, we pursue a college degree so we can have a greater impact on the agriculture industry upon graduation. At Virginia Tech, I am amazed and inspired by the careers that the students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are pursuing.

Virginia Tech has brought me the BEST of friends that I will forever be grateful for. They inspire me every day and are going to be very successful in life. Sadly, I had some very close friends that graduated in December who are starting new chapters in their life. For those of you who are curious about what career one can obtain with an agriculture degree, I am going to show you what these four seniors, who had a great impact on my life, are going to pursue after graduation.

Wade: Wade was one of my first friends at Virginia Tech during my first semester of my freshman year. He welcomed me with open arms. Over the last year and a half I have been here, he has become one of my best friends. I look up to him as a person and often turn to him for advice, and although sometimes it isn’t what I want to hear, it is what I need to hear. Wade is one smart guy; matured way beyond his years. He has an old soul, but I believe that is what has led to his intelligence and success. He sets his phone down and doesn’t let it control his life, enjoys conversations with others, listens and takes in information, and shows respect to everyone who crosses his path. His family grows crops and operates a small beef feedlot in the Eastern part of Virginia. As much as Wade loves his family farm, he wants to take time while he is young to expand his education. He received his degree from Virginia Tech in Crop and Soil Science and is pursuing his graduate degree in Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences from Auburn University. His research and education will be focused on cover crop and soil nutrient management in row crops, along with some studies of how grazing can affect cover crop management. Upon graduation from graduate school, he hopes to enter the workforce and become an agronomist, hopefully somewhere close to home so he can continue to help on his family’s farm! Y’all remember his name now, because I can promise you he will be greatly recognized for his intelligence in the agriculture industry one day.

Alex: Alex was also one of my first friends at Virginia Tech. She did my interview for Block and Bridle, and I guess she liked me because she offered for me to live with her the second time I talked to her, haha! Alex has been the best friend and roommate a girl could ever ask for. I only got the chance to live with her for one semester since she graduated, but our time together was so enjoyable. She was like the big sister I never had! She is responsible and a great leader; another one I was often asking for advice. Alex is also from the Eastern side of Virginia and has no agriculture background, but she decided that it was a field she wanted to be involved in. She received her degree in Agriculture Business. She held leadership roles in multiple clubs at Virginia Tech, but what influenced her career path the most was working at the Meat Lab on campus. Starting in January, she will be combining her meat science background with business management as a trainee at Smithfield Food Services. It will be a 3-year program where she will be learning everything from the production line, to supervising, to business management and the supply chain. Alex has received an opportunity that not many college students get to receive right after graduation, but I am excited to see how successful she will be!

Claire: I met Claire through Block and Bridle (if you haven’t noticed, that has been a common denominator between all of my friends). I got to know Claire better the Spring semester of my freshman year. I was showing a heifer in Block and Bridle’s annual show, Little International, and Claire was the beef barn chair. Neither one of us really knew what we were doing, but Claire asked some more experienced people for tips and was eager to learn, and ended up being a huge help to me and others! Claire was raised around horses on the Eastern side of Virginia (I am really outnumbered when it comes to representing Southwest Virginia!). She graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Business. Claire was the “smart girl” that everyone asked questions to…business is her thing! Now, it seems that all her hard work is paying off! She is soon to start her new job with Farm Credit as a Loan Officer. This is one heck of a job to receive right out of college! Her bubbly personality and love for agribusiness will lead her to becoming a very, successful loan officer!

Bailey: Guess where I met Bailey? Yup, Block and Bridle! If it wasn’t for this club I’m not sure I would have any friends at Virginia Tech! Bailey Carpenter (we often said his whole name since there are 3 “Baileys” in the club) is one of the funniest and most down-to-earth people I have ever met. After his senior year in high school, he served as a State FFA Officer. I was an 8th grader when he was an officer, but I always looked up to him for never acting like he was better than any of the other members because of his title. He was just a cool dude full of tons of energy and a passion for agriculture! Bailey’s home is in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia; he’s one of few of my friends that are not 5 hours away from me! He graduated with a degree in Agriculture Business. Bailey is going to be a chemical and fertilizer applicator for Rockingham Cooperative. While working with his local co-op, he will be training to become an agronomist by taking soil samples and analyzing them, talking to farmers about fertilizer and chemical recommendations, and studying seeds so he can communicate with customers which ones would be the best for their operation. A couple of years ago, Bailey began to grow strawberries. He now operates his own strawberry patch that has come to be very successful in his hometown! Bailey has already been a huge influence on agriculturists in the state of Virginia, and I cannot wait to see how he continues to be a positive influence for the industry!

Honestly, I may have shed a few tears typing those last four paragraphs. I cannot even begin to explain how big of an impact these people have had on my life. However, I know they will be friends that I have forever. I know that they will always be a phone call away, and even if most of them are all the way across the state (or in another state), I know I could count on their help if I needed it.

At the beginning of the FFA Creed, the first sentence says, “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words, but of deeds.” I know a few of these graduates were extremely involved in FFA growing up and lived by the FFA Creed, but all of them bring that first sentence to life. They don’t just talk about things they could be doing to better the industry, they get up and pursue it. Their passion and drive for this industry gives me hope that the agriculture industry will remain strong and resilient!

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