For more than 100 years, the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has shaped future leaders.
On Oct. 22, the College and the Texas A&M Collegiate FFA Alumni Chapter co-hosted the annual AggieFest, which brought more than 1,000 Texas 4-H and FFA members from across state to the Texas A&M University campus and the Texas A&M-RELLIS campus.
At Aggiefest, these future leaders participated in various leadership development events, LDE, primarily sponsored by the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication. In addition to those contests, the Department of Animal Science and the Department of Poultry Science hosted judging contests and clinics across both campuses.
“Our college is proud to support Texas youth, like those within 4-H and FFA, and encourage the leadership skills needed to advance within industries across the agricultural and life sciences,” said Chris Skaggs, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for stakeholder relations and associate dean for student development for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“We appreciate the dedication of the Collegiate FFA organization within our College to host the event and for the support of the RELLIS campus as we strive to introduce these future leaders to the wide range of educational and high-impact experiences available to them at Texas A&M.”
Agricultural leadership experience for both high school and college students
The AggieFest contests hosted by the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications included agricultural issues, agricultural advocacy, agriculture public relations and radio broadcasting, job interview skills as well as Greenhand skills for those in ninth grade or older.
However, the event gave more than the contest participants valuable experience, because many Texas A&M students from the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications were tasked with hosting the event.
“AggieFest was a fantastic opportunity for Texas A&M to showcase our leadership opportunities as well as introduce Texas A&M University System’s new RELLIS campus to the next generation of leaders within agriculture and life sciences,” said Matt Baker, Ph.D., head of the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications.
The RELLIS campus, a 2,400-acre applied research campus in Bryan, features the new Agriculture and Workforce Complex, providing students access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.
“This event gave our students hands-on experience on how to host an event of this magnitude, gain experience as a judge and network with the many company representatives who volunteered to serve as judges,” Baker said.
Encouraging leadership within agriculture and life sciences
“We are giving Texas A&M students the opportunity to have experience running and evaluating contests,” said Randy Lund, Ph.D., instructional professor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication, Bryan-College Station.
“The best thing you can do to earn this experience is volunteer to be a judge,” Lund said. “Overall, we are demonstrating how to become leaders at both the secondary and post-secondary levels.”
Lund noted more than 50 Texas A&M students volunteered to serve as a judge at AggieFest.
Bryce Vanek ’24, a junior agricultural science major who serves as sentinel for Texas A&M Collegiate FFA, echoed Lund’s sentiments and said all involved benefit from the annual event.
“AggieFest benefits FFA chapters by providing a great opportunity to practice what they have put together and figure out pieces to fine tune to help them stand out at higher level LDE events,” Vanek said.
“This event also benefits our organization’s members, especially those who want to be agriculture science teachers, by giving them the chance to see how an LDE competition is run from a teacher perspective and acquire skills they could use in any career field,” he said.
Co-hosting Aggiefest fits perfectly in line with the goals of the Texas A&M Collegiate FFA chapter as it strives to develop members as business professionals by providing collegiate leadership opportunities, career development events, networking, academic enhancement and personal success.
More about AggieFest
The contests served as a practice round prior to the district and state competitions in December. The event kicked off with contests at 8:30 a.m. and concluded with an afternoon awards program.
As one of the many FFA contests included at Aggiefest, the Spanish Creed-Speaking contest boosts self-confidence, earns recognition and develops powerful communication skills among the participants. This contest had Spanish-speaking FFA members cite the FFA creed then participate in a five-minute question-and-answer period conducted in Spanish.
“This contest, along the others that occurred at Aggiefest, is a unique opportunity and reminds these students that we have a spot for everyone at Texas A&M,” Lund said.