“To prepare and motivate students for career success.” That is the motto for the Troy FFA Chapter in Missouri. This saying is the motivation for the three FFA advisors and the nearly 400 members year-round. One example of preparing the students for career success is the Troy AgriBusiness Leadership Experience (TABLE).
TABLE is a two-day experience for the high school students with Troy FFA Chapter to explore agricultural career opportunities before they go to college and declare a major. This experience takes hard work from all three Troy FFA Advisors — Rob Calvin, Matt McCrory and Elizabeth Utterback
This opportunity is made possible through a local grant from the Lincoln County R-3 School District Education Foundation. The grant allows the students to follow their passion with the hope that they would move back to the Troy area, which is just outside of St. Louis.
The grant covers a two-day trip including the charter bus, the meals, and even watching a Cardinals baseball game. The students had to pay only $30 for the whole experience. Calvin said the grant allowed every student to participate in this opportunity, no matter what the financial situation.
This year marks the third experience for the Troy FFA Chapter and has been running for six years. The chapter goes every other year and focuses on the Junior and Senior High School students. Calvin says it is perfect for students who are on the fence about picking their careers or even going to college.
This year’s line up hit important agricultural pathways — ag science, crop science, but especially agribusiness. Day 1 included a visit to NOVUS International, Rabo AgriFinance, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, business and dinner etiquette review, and ended with a trip to watch a Cardinal baseball game. Day 2 wrapped up with a trip to The Climate Corporation and Bunge.
To prepare for the education experience, the students utilized technology to prepare for each company. In addition to keeping a journal each day, the students used a QR code and received background information on each company they visited. The QR code, set up by Utterback, had the company’s website and mission goals so the students could form educated questions during their visit.
The idea to start an agribusiness tour came from the Missouri AgriBusiness Academy. The students wanted to put their own spin on the experience. Calvin had his Ag Leadership class come up with a new, personalized name. After time to consider, they decided upon Troy AgriBusiness Leadership Experience.
Calvin encourages any other FFA chapter considering something similar, to try this experience. One of the things they found is most companies are very receptive to hosting the students. Although it can be intimidating to ask for a visit, Calvin says go for it! The worst thing that could happen is they say no. In his experience, the companies encourage student groups to visit.
With a major emphasis on coming back to the Tory community after graduation, the results are still out to see how successful the total experience will be. The first group to participate in the TABLE experience recently graduated college and are now searching for a job. Calvin looks forward to seeing the results of the outreach to see how many students were able to utilize the experience and find a job in ag in the local community.
In addition to helping the students find a sense of direction, this experience is also helpful to the companies they visit. This is a great opportunity for brand identity for the companies with the younger generations and helping associate their company with agriculture. One example Calvin gave was Bunge. Calvin described the company as a new-age work environment with open concept, game room, and other fun things to do.
Calvin wants to continue the TABLE experience into the future. Ideally, the Troy FFA Chapter would like to explore and feature local community businesses, not just the Saint Louis area. For example, the landscaping business has really blossomed with the increase in subdivisions in the community. He wants students to realize it is more than just labor in that industry. The local communities would emphasize more than just living in Tory — this avenue would support local business which in return supports local community.