MSU student stays active in ag |

MSU student stays active in ag

MSU photo by Kelly GorhamJames Brown, economics and agricultural business major, stands with cows at the Beef Center, part of MSU's Bozeman Agricultural Research and Teaching Farm (BART).
Kelly Gorham |

James Brown knows how to keep busy. Through school, clubs, activities, internships and volunteering, the Montana State University student helps others and explores his own opportunities.

Brown grew up in Helena and attended Capital High School. His family owns an agricultural trucking business, Cattle Express, in Helena and a row crop and livestock feeding operation in Iowa. His mother, Lynette Brown, is executive assistant to Montana’s Commissioner of Higher Education and its Board of Regents.

As a teenager, Brown and his younger brother spent summers haying and working cattle on neighboring ranches.

Following his family’s lead in agriculture and education, Brown has combined the two to create a fast-paced academic and volunteer life for himself. As a senior in economics and agricultural business he fills his days and nights with ag-related activities.

“Being involved in different clubs and activities on campus and within the industry is an opportunity to network, to gain broad industry exposure and give back to the community and industries which have done so much for my academic career and work career to this point,” said Brown.

Last year Brown was president of the Agriculture Student Council, which oversees 14 clubs and organizations in the College of Agriculture. It’s his second year as chancellor of Alpha Zeta, an agricultural honor society. As chancellor, Brown oversees bimonthly meetings and manages the $13,000 the club appends on scholarships and activities annually. He also coordinates Alpha Zeta activities such as field trips to local farms and food processing facilities.

As an agricultural ambassador, part of the recruitment arm of the College of Agriculture, Brown is one of 10 students who are interested in agriculture and natural resources and promoting agricultural careers. Agricultural ambassadors attend career fairs and visit high school science and agriculture classes around Montana.

“We might make biodiesel in a science class or otherwise demonstrate opportunities in agriculture,” said Brown.

When Brown isn’t organizing activities or raising money for charity through one of MSU’s clubs, he is often taking advantage of opportunities through the agriculture industry.

Brown attended the International Livestock Congress in Denver in 2008 as one of 15 fellowship recipients from around the world.

He gained leadership training aimed at “making more effective decisions as a livestock industry professional,” said Brown.

Brown’s National Meat Association scholarship provided for tuition and a trip to that organization’s national convention where he helped out as an intern.

“Both of those conferences highlighted the diversity of the global livestock industry and how skills gained at MSU prepare me for any career in the livestock industry, regardless of specific job location or even specific job description,” said Brown.

Last year Brown and his classmates learned about the end uses of Montana wheat by traveling to China and meeting with potential customers with the “Follow the Grain” program. He has been to Colorado twice to learn about the life cycle of cattle as part of the “Follow the Cattle” program.

Brown has written articles for “Montana Stockgrower,” volunteered at the Montana

Science Olympiad, raised money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, installed sheetrock in Habitat for Humanity houses, raised funds and recruited volunteers for the Alpha Lambda Delta Relay for Life team; in fact his resume runs five pages to include all his activities, accomplishments, awards and scholarships.

The past two summers Brown interned with the meat industry. In 2007 he was market analyst at Safeway’s meat and seafood procurement office in Denver. In 2008, he interned in southern Minnesota with Hormel Foods. As a quality control analyst, Brown developed protocols to improve Listeria prevention in meat products.

After graduating from MSU in June, Brown will embark on his third internship, this time with Cargill in Omaha, NE. He will use statistical and market analysis to improve the production and use of corn milling byproducts.

Next fall, Brown will enter MSU’s master’s program in applied economics and then apply to doctoral programs to continue his education in quantitative analysis.

“My ultimate goal is to work in private industry conducting risk and market analysis with a large ag-based corporation,” said Brown.

“All the clubs, activities and internships have positioned me to make decisions in corporate agriculture impacting the way food makes it to the global dinner plate,” Brown said. “And being involved is an opportunity to give back to the industries and communities which have made me who I am today.”

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