Women In Ag students value mentors | TSLN.com

Women In Ag students value mentors

Mary Crawford
NCTA News Service

Agriculture students at a rural Nebraska college appreciate role models and career mentors who help guide their careers.

When a dozen members of the Women in Agriculture (WIA) chapter at the University of Nebraska's College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis attended the 30th Nebraska WIA conference, they found many friendly faces and opportunities for discussion.

"It always helps to meet other people in the industry, and to learn from their ideas and experiences," said Evey Choat, president of NCTA's Collegiate WIA group, who attended the sessions at Kearney.

"It was really neat to network with other women in agriculture," she said. "We learned what is out there in the industry and about many roles in agriculture."

Choat is an agriculture education major from St. Edward, Neb. She was active in FFA and 4-H prior to coming to the two-year agriculture college in southwestern Nebraska. Campus activities such as WIA, horticulture club, livestock judging and student government have solidified her desire to someday teach at the high school level and be an FFA advisor and mentor.

The University of Nebraska's Department of Agricultural Economics hosted the WIA conference which included more than 30 break-out sessions.

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Several NCTA students tapped their leadership skills, serving as workshop facilitators, said Jo Bek, NCTA professor and faculty advisor.

Bek is a role model for the students, having been an instructor at NCTA for 36 years. She is a well-known advocate and teacher in Nebraska's agriculture programs.

Each school year, service projects and community service with a fundraising twist help the collegians pay for their lodging at the annual WIA conference.

In addition to bi-monthly meetings for WIA, the students sponsor campus projects. Each fall, they receive orders for Christmas cookies from parents or family members of students and faculty. Then, in mid-December, they host a large cookie-baking session and deliver goodies to recipients on campus.

The students also sponsor a Valentine's Day Dance, have guest speakers at meetings, and this year are considering a campus training session which emphasizes security awareness and personal safety, Choat noted.

"As Women in Agriculture students we have a lot of fun together, and appreciate the opportunities the agriculture industry provides for us," Choat said. "Nebraska agriculture is No. 1 for us."