Not many students at the University of Missouri can say that they have played music on some of the most familiar stages in downtown Columbia. Andy Folta, 21, a junior at MU in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources has strummed his guitar at The Blue Note, on the Jesse Hall and the Missouri Theater stages.
Don’t let his musical talents fool you though; Andy is much more than just a musician. Originally from Troy, Missouri, Folta comes from a family whose lives revolve around agriculture. He grew up with his family on an estimated 1,800 acres of production farmland and has followed in the footsteps of his parents and sister who have all attended MU.
“Andy has always been passionate about American agriculture,” said his mother, Zenda Folta. “He sees its importance as a global leader to help feeding the world.”
His list of credentials includes serving as president of the Troy FFA Chapter, as well as as the Area V FFA Vice President. Currently, Folta is actively involved on the MU campus as a teaching assistant (TA) for a floral design class, a member of the Ag Education Society, a CAFNR Ambassador and a member of Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR).
When asked why he wanted be a TA for a floral design class, he said it’s “pretty neat” because it allows him to implement lessons taught to him in his agricultural education courses.
Although staying focused on his schoolwork is a top priority for Folta, he does have a life outside of academics. Like most college students, he thoroughly enjoys the wonders of Netflix to relax in his spare time.
“He has a thousand TV shows that he loves and watches on a regular basis,” said Jamie Pieper, girlfriend of five years and student at the University of Missouri Kansas City. “… and almost always makes me get addicted to them.”
According to Pieper, Folta also relaxes by spending time outdoors or with family, either hers’ or his own.
“He is very family oriented,” Pieper said.
Folta’s family focused life might have played a role in his choice to be a student in CAFNR.
“I’ve always felt comfortable that I could grow and develop my skills as a productive member in the agricultural industry,” Folta said. “There is a smaller, more welcoming atmosphere, too, within the college.”
It’s the whole “at home” vibe Folta enjoys most about the college. He added that his involvement in the fraternity, AGR, allows him to “become a part of something bigger than myself.” For Folta, it’s an organization that gives back to the community and will supply him with lifelong connections to help him in his future.
From dates with his significant other, to standing on a putting green with a golf club, to holding a firearm and shooting at flying, neon orange clay birds, Folta has a diverse variety of outdoor pastimes. Over the summer of 2014, he had the opportunity to combine his love of the outdoors with agriculture as a field sales intern for Monsanto.
“I didn’t feel like an intern,” Folta said. “I felt like an employee.”
He shared that after the internship concluded, he realized he wanted to change his career focus to sales — something similar to his internship. Though he plans to finish his degree in agricultural education, he doesn’t think he will become a teacher or adviser. Rather, he said he envisions himself working in Monsanto’s corporate office or as a retail business director.
“The thing that makes us proudest of him is that when he sets a goal for himself, he sees it through to completion,” his mother said. “He dedicates himself to it, and works hard to achieve it.”