Alums offer tales of unique experiences as CAFNR students

Many students have found their passions and reached their career goals thanks to guidance from faculty and staff in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) and the variety of opportunities available.

With 15 degree areas, 24 emphasis areas and 16 minors, CAFNR has a multitude of options for students pursuing a career within the agriculture industry. While all of these educational paths can lead to success, each student’s journey leads to a unique blend of knowledge and experiences to pass on to current CAFNR students.

Here are the stories of just a few recent graduates.

Maggie Hardwick, B.S. ’15, science and agricultural journalism with an emphasis in strategic communications and natural resources. In addition, Hardwick minored in agricultural leadership, agricultural economics, psychology, and earned a certificate in multicultural issues. Hardwick was an active student earning the title of CAFNR Outstanding Senior and a Mizzou ’39 membership. Today, she works for Cargill Meat Solutions as a sales professional focused on beef sales. Because Cargill operates on such a large scale, Hardwick’s daily tasks are more focused on maintaining existing customer relationships rather than seeking new sales.

“I continue to build relationships with my customers and work with them to provide as much product as we possibly can while negotiating pricing,” Hardwick said.

Hardwick loves the work she is doing now, and recognizes the impact that CAFNR has had on her career.

“Because of our college’s outstanding reputation with employers, I was able to get internships as a sophomore that were geared towards juniors and seniors,” Hardwick said. “CAFNR creates well-rounded students – you leave not only with the knowledge to succeed, but also the personality that people want in a coworker.”

Kody Raines. B.S. ’13, agribusiness management with a minor in international agriculture. Today, Raines works in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, for Lansing Trade Group. During his time at MU, Raines worked as an intern at CAFNR Career Services. In this position, he had the opportunity to meet multiple employers, which eventually led to a career with Lansing.

Raines enjoyed many aspects of CAFNR, but especially having the ability to take diverse classes that helped him learn about different aspects of the agriculture industry.

“CAFNR was diligent in putting me in front of different career paths,” Raines said. “I participated in career fairs and John Brown and Dickinson Scholars. Both opportunities helped me explore different job positions, and ask industry professionals, mostly alumni, questions about their daily activities and challenges. After narrowing my options, I leaned on internships to test myself and discovered my passion for grain merchandising.”

Natalie Helms, B.S. ’16, science and agricultural journalism. Helms now works as a newspaper reporter for Chilkat Valley News in Haines, Alaska. She said she discovered her love for Alaska while interning there in the summer of 2015. After graduation, a reporter position opened up, and Helms decided to return to Haines. Today she is reporting breaking news, writing feature stories and doing just about everything in between.

Helms is happy where she is for now, but says her dream job would be to work in public relations or communications for a wildlife organization.

In terms of CAFNR, Helms enjoyed the personalized aspects of her educational path.

“The science and agricultural journalism program really gave me the opportunity to customize the classes I was taking,” Helms said.

Having the opportunity to not only learn about journalism, but also photography, forestry and wildlife allowed her to pursue what she is truly passionate about.

“I really loved my time at Mizzou, and I loved my major. I feel that I was definitely prepared to take this job,” Helms said.

Nathan Isakson, B.S. ’14 agricultural systems management and agricultural education. Isakson now works as the agricultural instructor and FFA adviser in Ash Grove, Missouri.

“I think there are a lot of things CAFNR students get outside of the classroom,” Isakson said, referring to his time in CAFNR.

Isakson’s personal favorite was the networking with potential employers and students. Because students in CAFNR come from a variety of backgrounds, a lot can be learned from peer interaction. These unique opportunities helped Isakson have a more well-rounded view of the agriculture industry, and helped him be better prepared for his career.

“As far as I’m concerned, Mizzou is our top ag college,” Isakson said. “We hold ourselves to a very high standard that is consistent with what employers are looking for.”

Holly Harlan

About the Author Holly Harlan

I am a freshman at the University of Missouri majoring in science and agricultural journalism. My love for the agriculture industry began in the small town of Salisbury, Missouri. This small, farming community gave me the opportunity to grow up with an appreciation for farming, because it was all around me. I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to write for CAFNR Corner Post this semester, so I can get more writing experience and continue to learn more about the agriculture industry. I’m ready to take on this semester, and I can’t wait to see what adventures await me here at the Zou!