By Timothy Meyer, Instructor, South Dakota State University
In 2013 graduate students from South Dakota State University traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to compete in the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association’s annual case study competition. The students attending the trip were like most students, unaware of their own potential and a bit naïve with regards to the industry presence at the conference.
South Dakota State University’s Economics department has majors in Economics, Business Economics, Agribusiness, and Resource Economics; making an annual trip to the IFAMA world conference a logical travel experience. The case study competition, along with the academic and industry presence make the conference a vital component of the students’ curriculum. Luckily, our students made a specific connection in 2013 that has strengthened South Dakota State’s involvement with IFAMA, and the title Sponsor, CHS.
That connection was started by William Nelson. Mr. Nelson’s enthusiasm for student engagement is contagious. His questions and conversation with our students heightened their awareness of the potential their training in economics, business, and agriculture provided them for the future, even if they were from a small rural town in South Dakota. Our students gained confidence, as many of them remarked that while South Dakota has a small population, it is in the center of the Agribusiness Universe.
CHS’s support of the conference has allowed SDSU students to be able to attend the conference each year since. Through the generosity of the company, our students are now able to experience a truly unique conference every year, no matter the location.
This year the conference has added an undergraduate section to the case competition. The timing of this change is serendipitous as SDSU has made experiential learning and travel an immediate priority. With this in mind a travel course was been created with attendance of the conference and Case Study Competition participation a cornerstone of the course and the trip.
At present time four undergraduate students and five graduate students are slated to participate. With the help of CHS the trip is financially feasible, even for graduate students living off ramen noodle. The exciting part of the trip for most of the students is the ability to travel internationally and apply what they’ve learned in 3+ years At SDSU.
The 3 credit hour course has even been beneficial for the faculty members involved as well, two of which of have limited experience with Europe. Over the course of the spring, we have all learned about the history of the European Union, agribusiness in the region and more. The students have been giving reports on various topics much in the manner they will give their case study presentations, gaining confidence in their knowledge, the ability to apply their knowledge, and speaking in front of a group.
The IFAMA World Conference is an incredible experience for our students to learn how small the world has become, but also how much potential there is in the agribusiness sector of the economy. Through the encouragement of CHS, William Nelson, our department head Dr. Eluned Jones, and the involved faculty, our students will be rewarded with the privilege of conference attendance this year, and many years to come.