Students in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources have a smorgasbord of organizations and clubs to choose from when looking for extra activities. Many of these organizations encourage their members to strive for academic achievements, contest achievements and more, but one organization has a tradition of making philanthropy one of its top priorities.
Sigma Alpha, the professional agriculture sorority, strives to excel in service to others. The Sigma Alpha chapter at MU is the Alpha Chi chapter. It has about 65 active members, all of whom are collegiate women with a passion for agriculture, leadership, scholarship and service.
Courtney Spencer currently serves as Sigma Alpha’s philanthropy chair. Her job is to plan philanthropy events and track members’ hours of service. Ag in the Classroom is an example of one popular service activity that members participate in. This program allows members to take their knowledge of agriculture and share it with people of all ages, but the Alpha Chi chapter usually reaches out to children in schools
“Service serves as one of the Sigma Alpha pillars and thus guides our members to take active roles in the communities they live in,” Spencer said. “As a chapter, we greatly value service and enjoy the opportunity to extend our hand to others.”
This school year continues to be a busy and successful year for Sigma Alpha’s philanthropy efforts. Not only does Sigma Alpha give back on campus, they also give back community wide and beyond. Philanthropy events that Sigma Alpha has hosted or participated in this year include:
- Mizzou Homecoming Week food drive: Sigma Alpha was one of the largest donors to CAFNR Student Council’s homecoming food drive in 2013. The food collected was donated to Tiger Pantry, which serves MU students who are unable to provide themselves with adequate food during college.
- Adopt-a-Family: After a member of the Sigma Alpha-Alpha Chi chapter expressed concerns about extended family members who had recently lost everything, Sigma Alpha members took it upon themselves to supply the family (which includes several girls), with enough clothes, food, toiletry items and household items to get them back on their feet.
- Operation Adopt-a-Troop: One member needed help filling care packages for a troop of soldiers she had adopted in Afghanistan. Sigma Alpha immediately responded with a multitude of items, from candy to toys to toiletry items.
- Sale of Champions: Sigma Alpha purchased the grand champion pen of chickens at the Missouri State Fair last summer. This sponsorship encourages Missouri youth to stay personally involved in agriculture by raising animals.
- Cups-of-Kindness: Members stuffed coffee cups with inspirational tokens for breast cancer patients during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
- Other events: Sigma Alpha has also volunteered multiple times at the Central Missouri Food Bank, made cards for nursing home patients, packed boxes for Operation Christmas Child, and participated in the CAFNR week trivia night for charity.
“Currently, Sigma Alpha members have completed 1,310 hours of philanthropy, which correlates to a huge impact in the community,” Spencer said.
Chapter members have also completed several fundraisers and donated the proceeds toward charitable causes. These fundraisers include a walking tacos lunch to benefit Heifer International and a chili lunch to benefit South Dakota cattle producers after a snowstorm hit their state. They also hosted their second annual Zumba-a-Thon.
Zumba-a-Thon has become an annual event where people Zumba-dance for several hours to raise money for Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen. Many members of the community participate and donate to this event. This year the event raised more than $500.
Every Sigma Alpha member contributes to philanthropy efforts in some way.
“Our most recent fundraiser, the walking taco lunch, raised $230 for Heifer International,” Spencer said.
Heifer International is an organization that is working to end hunger and poverty around the world. MU faculty, staff and students supported Heifer International by purchasing walking tacos at the lunch.
Jaelyn Bergmann is Sigma Alpha’s fundraising chair. She helped the fundraising committee team up with the philanthropy committee to create a successful fundraiser for Heifer International.
“Sigma Alpha is thankful and blessed for CAFNR and university-wide support, which has allowed our sorority to support agriculture worldwide,” Bergmann said. “As an agricultural sorority, we focus our efforts to support and strengthen the agricultural industry.”
Some Sigma Alpha philanthropy efforts are a tradition and carried out year after year, but the group never stops brainstorming on new philanthropy ideas.
“We are always looking for new opportunities to give back to the community,” Spencer said.
To keep up with Sigma Alpha-Alpha Chi’s philanthropy efforts, visit their page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SigmaAlphaAlphaChiChapter.