Arkansas Future Ag Leaders Tour Offers Professional Development, Networking Opportunities For College Students

    FUTURE OF ARKANSAS AGRICULTURE — College juniors and seniors studying agriculture-related majors can register now for the Future Ag Leaders tour, which runs May 15-19 and provides professional development and networking opportunities with the state's number one employer, the agriculture industry. (Division of Agriculture graphic.)

    LITTLE ROCK — For Arkansas college juniors and seniors studying agriculture-related majors, the Cooperative Extension Service’s Future Ag Leaders Tour provides a first-hand look at careers in the agriculture industry — the No. 1 employer in the state.

    The Arkansas Future Ag Leaders Tour, which runs May 15-19, is a program of the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Julie Robinson, extension associate professor for Community, Professional and Economic Development for the Division of Agriculture, said the program creates important connections between students and their peers as well as future employers in the state.

    “Because the tour is open to students regardless of their institution or university affiliation, tour participants meet and get to know people outside their existing network,” Robinson said. “Potential employers know that students who are giving up a week of their time to tour the state and learn about jobs and the agriculture industry will likely be dedicated employees that care about agriculture and the farmers they will serve.”

    Undergraduate juniors and seniors enrolled in colleges of agriculture or pursuing agriculture-related majors within the state of Arkansas can register for the tour at Robinson said there are 50 spots available and there is no cost for participants thanks to the program’s sponsors, including the Arkansas Corn and Grain Sorghum Board, the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, Arkansas Farm Bureau Foundation and the Division of Agriculture.

    Robinson said students will get to interact with past tour participants, many of whom are now employed with businesses and organizations they visited on previous tours.

    “The skills developed and connections made during the tour, along with their formal education, set tour participants up to begin strong careers supporting Arkansas agriculture,” Robinson said.

    On May 15, participants will gather at the C.A. Vines 4-H Center in Little Rock for a day of team building and professional development training. This will include interview skills, resume building, a lesson on Human Resources and related topics for first-time employment — such as benefits, retirement and tax deductions — as well as professional communication.

    During the rest of the week, students will travel on a chartered bus across the state, visiting major employers in Arkansas agriculture in several cities. Robinson said that throughout the experience, students will receive leadership training and insight from the many businesses and organizations featured on the tour.

    “Leadership skill building is incorporated throughout the tour as participants learn from and visit with various speakers and hosts,” she said. “Most speakers and tour hosts share about their career paths and what has helped them along the way.”

    Participants will visit with federal and state entities, including the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Division of Agriculture. They will also meet with advocacy, policy, and finance groups such as Arkansas Farm Bureau, Farm Credit, and the National Agricultural Law Center. On the last day of the tour, students will spend the day at the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation offices in Little Rock.

    “Most of the stops are an hour long, so they are brief, but employers get the chance to show participants what they do, and students walk away with a pretty good idea of what the company culture and workplace are like,” Robinson said. “Stops will also include cattle, rice, soybean, fish and cotton farms, where they will visit with farmers and discuss current challenges and opportunities.”

    Of the many stops that are part of the tour, some include JA Farms in Bismarck, JACO Meats in Hope and Evergreen Packaging in Pine Bluff.

    For more information, visit the Cooperative Extension Service’s Arkansas Future Ag Leaders page, or contact Julie Robinson at


    To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.


    About the Division of Agriculture

    The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

    The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

    The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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