Weis sets a new standard of excellence as Mizzou ’39 recipient

With an ethic stemming from rural roots, senior Kari Weis is no stranger to hard work. Weis is in her fifth year at MU, finishing up her science and agricultural journalism and plant sciences double major as well as a business minor.

Weis credits her motivation to growing up in a farming community surrounded by hardworking people. She has continued to carry the responsibilities learned from the farm into her professional life.

“Kari is an overachiever,” said Margaret Weis, Kari’s mother. “She sets her bar and works very diligently to achieve that.”

Weis began to get involved at a young age through her local 4-H and FFA chapters holding officer positions at various levels.

Following high school, Weis gained an internship with Syngenta where she learned there was a real disconnect between the public and where their food came from. It was at that time she decided to combine her passion for multimedia with a double major in plant sciences to work towards becoming a liaison between the public and the food industry.

Sharon Wood-Turley, science and agricultural journalism program chair at MU, has become a mentor for Weis during her years at the university.

“Everything she does she excels at,” Wood-Turley said. “In many ways, with Kari, I felt almost like she was a partner with me. She just has such maturity about her and has always been so willing to help.”

During Weis’s five years at MU, she has compiled an impressive list of extracurricular activities. The activities and honors she has been associated with include: National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority, MU Agronomy Club, Dickinson Scholar, Dean’s List, CAFNR Student Development Board, CAFNR Steering Week Committee, and Student Council. Weis has also earned the opportunity to gain various internships with agricultural firms and businesses.

“My ‘big’ from my sorority told me, you’re going to do a lot while you’re here but make sure that with at least one of those things you leave something behind for the others, and that really stuck with me,” said Weis.

Freshman year, Weis became very close to a senior science and agricultural journalism student who was selected as a Mizzou ’39 award winner. From there she made it her goal to gain the honor before graduation.

“It was one of those goals that I thought I would at least try for,” Weis said.

Mizzou ’39 Award recipients are selected based on academic achievement, leadership and service to Mizzou and the community. The Mizzou Alumni Student Board presents the award to 39 seniors who accurately display those desired qualities. For the class of 2014, there were more than 200 applicants, and through a series of applications and interviews, 39 honorees were finally chosen. Of the 39, one was Kari Weis, science and agricultural journalism and plant science major from Highland, Ill.

“She’s so deserving of that recognition,” Wood-Turley said. “I have no doubt that she will be a leader in the world of science and agricultural journalism, and wherever she lands, she will be the best because that’s who she is.”

Just as Mizzou ’39 students before her, Weis has set the bar high for her fellow classmates and has given upcoming students a new goal to work toward and a new standard to attain.

Betty Thomas

About the Author Betty Thomas

Agriculture began to influence my life at a young age. My father is a sixth-generation farmer, so it only seems right to pass on the tradition. I’m from a small, rural community where a large portion of the local economy is centered around agriculture. I was born and raised on a farm outside of Oakford, Ill., and wouldn’t have had it any other way. A friend took a college visit to the University of Missouri one weekend, and I decided to tag along. I immediately fell in love with the hospitality and beauty of the campus. With such a strong agricultural school and journalism school it seemed to be the perfect fit. Looking back there is no place I would rather call home.