Sigma Alpha Symposium provides opportunity for networking and professional development

The women of the Sigma Alpha-Alpha Chi chapter at the University of Missouri presented the 14th annual Women in Agriculture Symposium on Friday, Feb. 10 in Columbia, Mo.

Sigma Alpha is a professional agriculture sorority that focuses on “cultivating professional women in agriculture,” according to its website. As a professional sorority, the group heavily emphasizes the importance of cultivating well-rounded individuals and concentrates on hosting monthly professional development events.

Professional Development Co-chairs, Carley Esser and Emma Downing, have been planning the symposium for several months. Esser is a senior agricultural education-leadership major and Downing is a junior agricultural economics major.

“We are learning as we are going,” Esser said.

The focus of the event was to provide a networking and educational opportunity for agriculture students and community members interested in or working in the agriculture industry.

“The main purpose of symposium is networking,” Downing said. “We want to bring together high caliber students with professionals.”           

There were two speakers at the event, and they talked about different aspects of the agriculture industry. The first speaker was Dr. Alan Wessler. vice president of feed operations and animal health for MFA Inc. In addition to Wessler, Kate Lambert spoke at the event. Lambert is from Uptown Farms, and she is a farm wife who writes a blog to communicate to consumers, other moms, marathon runners and agricultural professionals.

“It is a professional setting to be with agriculture people,” Downing said. “It gives you time to get to know someone and see how that person got there.”

The symposium helped highlight what the sorority is about, constructing professional development events for students to network with community members.

“This is Sigma Alpha’s big event, our chance to make our mark on the college as a professional sorority ensuring we are doing professional development for our members and the community,” Downing said.