Build the future of agriculture with us

Student and industry partner talking at a conference

Technology Institute

February 29-March 2, 2024
Houston, TX
Applications closed.
Girl smiling at conference

AFA Scholarships

Applications Due March 9, 2022
Piles of vegetables

AFA Competencies

What we do

Empower young leaders making an impact in food and agriculture

Agriculture is essential to the future of our interconnected world. We need leaders ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges — things like food security, sustainable energy and environmental quality — head-on. That’s where we come in. Our programmatic experiences and scholarships help dynamic, diverse young leaders develop their personal skills and prepare for careers in the food, agriculture and natural resources industries.

Students Served
Colleges & Universities
In Scholarships Given
Professional know-how
We teach students how to succeed in their future careers
Hands-on experiences
Our partners give students a taste of the real work they could do
Seed the talent pipeline
Our students have a head start on their career trajectory
Realize potential
We help students become better versions of the leaders they already are
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Attending AFA Leaders Conference has been one of the best experiences of my career. I am so immensely grateful to AFA and their partners for giving me this opportunity to attend.”
Alexis Camara
Northeastern Junior College

For more than 25 years, we've been studying what makes a transformational leader in agriculture. We've distilled our observations into six themes or skill areas that we call competencies. Not only are these skills highly sought after by employers, but we believe they'll prepare you to solve problems, strengthen the industry and set you up for success in all aspects of life. The six competencies are woven through all of our programs.

Relationship development
Building and fostering healthy relationships
Systems thinking
Innovatively influencing systems through critical thinking and problem solving
Working effectively with others toward a common goal
Cultural EQ
Performing well in diverse environments, with an inclusive bias
Interpersonal IQ
Relating to others with sensitivity and influence; a built-in bias toward leading and learning
Career management
Using exploration, feedback and reflection to manage yourself and your teams
Tips for applying
Double-check the eligibility requirements
Verify that all contact information is correct
Make sure your school information is up to date. If you've filled out an application on our site before, it will pre-populate your information. If you've changed your major or switched schools, we want to know that.
Fill in the work experience, organizational involvement and community services sections as thoroughly as you can. Every experience counts. The application is scored automatically by a formula, so the more you can tell us about your activities, the better.
Grammar, spelling and punctuation count!
Save your work often! If your internet connection times out while you’re on a page, you will lose any new information that you've entered since your last save.

Eligibility requirements

  • Current high school senior or undergraduate student

  • Age 17-25 during the AFA Leaders Conference*

  • Attending a four-year institution in the US or plans to obtain a four-year degree

  • 3.0 GPA or higher (recommended)

  • Passion for food, agriculture and/or natural resources

  • Intention to pursue a career in the food, agriculture and/or natural resources industries

*AFA programming is designed for students ages 17-25. Based on previous participant feedback, our programming does not meet the developmental needs and expectations of students outside this age range.

Technology Institute
Experience Info

March 10-12

Courtyard Marriott New Orleans
Downtown/Convention Center
300 Julia Street New Orleans, LA 70130

All meals, program materials and rooms are paid for by AFA's partners. You are responsible for covering any incidental and parking charges added to your room.

Mar 10
Mar 11
Mar 12
Mix and Mingle Registration
Welcome and Orientation Breakfast w
Break and Walk
VIP’s at PlugFest: Working for Equipment Compatibility
Lunch at Commodity Classic
Commodity Classic Booth Tours
Commodity Classic Trade Show Exploration
Break and Walk
Kickoff Speaker: AgTech 101
What’s Your Perspective: Executive Panel Discussion
Industry Networking
Dinner with Industry Guests, New Orleans Area AFA Alumni, and AFA Alumni at Commodity Classic
Student Reflection
Student Advisory Team

Student advisor team

Join the AFA Student Advisory Team

Think you’d be a good fit?

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Comfortable with public speaking

  • Create inclusive environments and interactions

  • Work in teams, as well as independently

  • Time management skills

  • Interest in event and program management

  • Proactive mindset

  • Servant leadership

What’s in it for our Student Advisors?

You’ll receive real-world professional experience to set you up for success as a young professional and beyond. This is top-notch training you won’t get in your classrooms or internships. Plus, you’ll join a network of motivated peers to grow with into your careers.

  • Academic scholarship

  • Professional training in facilitation, public speaking, respect and inclusivity, and customer service (valued at over $1,800)

  • Tangible teamwork, event planning and leadership experience for your resume

  • Exclusive exposure to AFA partners and industry leaders through virtual and in-person events and meetings

  • Registration and travel expenses to AFA Leaders Conference

  • Travel and expenses paid to AFA meetings

  • LinkedIn badges after completion of trainings and at end of experience

Qualifications needed:

  • Undergraduate full-time student majoring in agriculture, food, natural resources or a related field who has a passion for agriculture, food, and natural resources (not graduating before Fall 2022)

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0

  • Must be between 17-25 years of age

  • Must have attended at least one Track of AFA Leaders Conference before applying for the Student Advisor position

  • Passionate about AFA’s mission and can represent the organization in a professional manner

  • Have submitted an application to the 2022 Leaders Conference by deadline of Sept. 7 (separate from Student Advisory Team application)

  • Valid U.S. driver's license

Interested in applying? See here for full details

Questions? Contact Elizabeth Galbreath at or 816-406-2062

Speaker Highlights
Jim Chambers
Jim Chambers
Vice President, Worldwide Agriculture Division
Trimble Agriculture
“What will it take to elevate your game? Are you a team player or a dream chaser? I am thrilled to share my deep industry knowledge and business acumen to help you reflect and refresh on how YOU can be at the top of your game, no matter where you are in your career. Through exercises and thought-provoking dialogue, prepare to look within — and beyond — to elevate your impact on the ag industry and your professional future during this exciting session."
Dan Dye
Dan Dye
Chief Executive Officer
Ardent Mills
"During the pandemic, the people component of corporate culture shifted into well-deserved limelight. As leaders navigate both people and operations through continued disruption, executives can embrace authenticity, empathy and charisma to prioritize their people — while making a direct impact on the bottom line. In this session, I will share how I crafted a people-first culture defined by purpose at Ardent Mills, and how such deeply rooted values can inspire the next generation of agribiz leaders to redefine what it means to lead."
American Royal
California Cotton Alliance
Roderick J. and Jo Anne Cyr Foundation
Russ Weathers
The Sosland Foundation
William J. Collins Foundation
Butler Community College Colorado State University Cornell University Huntington University Illinois State University Iowa State University Louisiana State University Michigan State University New Mexico State University North Dakota State University Oklahoma State University Purdue University South Dakota State University Texas Tech University The Ohio State University The Ohio State University ATI University of Florida University of Illinois University of Maryland-College Park University of Minnesota University of Missouri University of Tennessee at Martin Washington State University
For whom is the AFA Leaders Conference designed?

If you are attending Track 1 at the 2021 AFA Leaders Conference, this means you are new to our AFA program. Welcome! We want to make sure you receive all the information you need to make this experience great.

How are students selected to attend?

Students are selected in a variety of ways. Approximately 150 students are pre-identified by leader and academic scholarship programs offered by AFA. Remaining attendees are selected through an application process for corporate or college/university sponsorship through AFA and its partners.

Do you have questions or need help with the application? Please send the program team an email at

What is the expectation of attendance at the AFA Leaders Conference?

AFA and its partners expect each attendee to attend all sessions of the AFA Leaders Conference. AFA has a responsibility to its partners that delegates will fully participate in the program to be best stewards of their investment. Therefore, students who are unable to attend the entire conference may have to forego sponsorship or face repercussions such as loss of an academic scholarship. If a student finds they are unable to attend the entire conference for any unexpected reason, they should contact AFA immediately to discuss their options.

What do I wear?

The AFA Leaders Conference is primarily a business casual event. However, Friday of the AFA Leaders Conference calls for business professional attire.

Who will be there?

The AFA Leaders Conference is attended by over 800 college men and women from across the nation. More than 300 industry leaders are involved in the conference as speakers, panelists, discussion group leaders, exhibitors or guests. 

Can I get help with class conflicts that fall during the conference?

AFA is here to help! AFA works to strengthen our relationship with more and more colleges and universities each year. We are more than happy to do any of the following: provide a customized excuse letter to provide to your professor; utilize our personal relationships on your campus to make a request on your behalf; or contact the professor, department chair or dean directly. Please feel free to reach out to the program team for assistance as soon as you know you have a conflict. As much as possible, we try to avoid a situation where a student has to forego the AFA opportunity (see the question on attendance) because of an academic conflict.

Is the AFA Leaders Conference an excused absence on my campus?

Good question. AFA has formal relationships with many campuses where we have a specific relationship with faculty and staff which seems to deem the AFA Leaders Conference a sanctioned event by the University. However, you must work directly with your professors on your class schedule.

What expenses are not covered?

Your sponsorship does not include transportation to/from the conference, miscellaneous beverages/snacks purchased, tips for hotel bellmen, etc. Delegate conference registration which is worth $1,000 is covered by AFA's partners and includes hotel room, guest room internet, meals and program costs associated with the 3 ½ day conference. 

What is the student cancellation policy?

Please visit our cancellation policy.  Click here.

How do I apply to attend the AFA Leaders Conference?

Open application is made available through the AFA website in the spring months. Apply for Sponsorship.  Selection is made in September. Also check with your college career service or academic programs office to see if your college will be sponsoring students as well. Learn More

What is the difference between an AFA Scholarship and Conference Sponsorship?

AFA provides academic scholarships to individuals who are chosen through Community Partners in 8 Midwestern states each year, as well as to individuals selected as AFA National Leader and Academic Scholars.  That scholarship package includes sponsorship for the scholar to attend the AFA Leaders Conference the fall of that same year. This is AFA’s definition of a scholarship and these are generally known as AFA Community Scholars.

Sponsorship is awarded to those who apply and are selected to attend the AFA Leaders Conference through any other mechanism – corporations, colleges or universities, an intern employer, a local community donor, etc.

Student walking and smiling at conference

AFA Leaders Conference

November 7-10, 2024
Kansas City, MO

Crop Science Institute

July 21-23, 2024
St. Louis, MO

AFA + NACD Sustainability Institute

February 11-13, 2024
San Diego, CA
Business Operations
Mark Stewart
Mark Stewart
President & CEO
Nancy Barcus
Nancy Barcus
Mayela Esser
Mayela Esser
Director of Systems
Leila Hill
Leila Hill
Office Manager
Joanne Kao
Joanne Kao
Systems Coordinator
LaPorsha Smith
LaPorsha Smith
Administrative and Event Coordinator
Building Bridges Thumbnail
AFA Leaders Conference
General AFA Resources
AFA Making the Grade
AFA Making the Grade
AFA Brochure
AFA Brochure

AFA Selects Student Ambassadors

February 17, 2020

Kansas City, MO – Feb. 17, 2020 – Agriculture Future of America has selected 25 Ambassadors to serve for the organization’s 2021 fiscal year, from March 1, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021. These students represent 25 schools from 21 states. During their year of service, these students will interact with agribusiness leaders, campus faculty and fellow students as they represent AFA.

“AFA has always valued students as leaders,” said Mark Stewart, AFA president and CEO. “These 25 AFA Ambassadors have been selected to represent our organization on their campuses, in their regions and nationally as we work to build bridges to foster engagement and innovation in food and agriculture. This highly competitive group was chosen because of their passion and commitment to agriculture and AFA.”

The AFA Ambassadors set goals to increase awareness of AFA programs on their campuses and in their regions and work to establish creative strategies to accomplish those goals. Ambassadors will also interact with industry professionals at various events and meetings on behalf of AFA. The health of AFA’s relationship with a college campus relies heavily on the work of our Ambassadors.

“As AFA’s director of collegiate relations, one of my main objectives is to diversify our student participation in our programs so that our group of students represents the enrollment in agriculture programs throughout the United States,” said Ashley Collins. “When we have a strong Ambassador on a college campus, we see strong applications and participation from that campus. I’m excited to be able to work alongside this group of Ambassadors as we work to reach more students on more campuses.”

On average, 66% of the applicants to AFA’s leader development programs come from a school where AFA has an active Ambassador.

The Ambassador’s first meeting will be in April. This will be a joint meeting with the AFA Student Advisory Team and will include team building, inclusivity training and planning for their year of service. AFA’s student leadership program has been made possible through strategic partnership with the CHS Foundation.

2020-21 AFA Ambassadors
Kayla Bashore, University of Florida
Lily Beasley, University of Kentucky
Kendra Betz, Missouri State University
Jailynn Britt, University of Maryland - Eastern Shore
JC Campbell, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Erin Chalupa, Iowa State University
Sophie Chance, North Carolina State University
Landry Cunningham, Texas A&M University
Morgan Duenke, Northwest Missouri State University
Kalie Ellis, Tennessee State University
Ines Frazier, Prairie View A&M University
Morgan Hasler, North Dakota State University
Grace Hasler, Purdue University
Joseph Jangulo, Illinois State University
Morgan Kanemoto, California State University - Fresno
Tori McGuire, Fort Valley State University
Tiffany Patrick, Virginia State University
Alan Ramos, University of Idaho
Patrick Rush, The Pennsylvania State University
Claire Sheppard, Oklahoma State University
Nicole Stafford, Kansas State University
Caleb Swears, University of Arkansas
Cara Teigum, South Dakota State University
Julie Ustach, Utah State University
Haylee Young, Texas Tech University

Fundraising Fellow
Kansas City, MO
Apply Now
Follow Agriculture Future of America
Feb 12, 2022

Meet AFA Ambassador and Washington State University student Della Paloy! 👋

Here are four fun facts about her, in her own words:
◾ I am a Junior Ranger at 50 National Parks. 🌲

See More

Girl Feeding Animal

Feb 17, 2022

AFA alumni, did you hear? The AFA Alliance is hosting a brand-new event, AllianceX!

Registration opens April 2 for this alumni only, high-energy networking & speaker experience. So, set your reminder to claim one of 100 available seats.

Learn more:


Agriculture Future of America
Mar 7, 2022

Today and every day, AFA celebrates the achievements of women. In support of International Women’s Day, AFA staff are wearing purple and green.

💜 Purple signifies justice and dignity
💚 Green symbolizes hope

Head to to learn more about #IWD2022!

Women's Day

Agriculture Future of America
Apr 7, 2022

It's the showdown of the century. A high stakes nail-biter. It's the battle of the non-profits. Who will take home the Magnetic Ag March Madness Tournament trophy? You decide.

We're calling on you — AFA partners, alumni, friends and students — to decide the fate of the tournament. Vote today: