Dordt students dominate Agriculture Student Leadership Conference

photoDordt students brought home ten first place prizes and qualified eighteen individuals for the national competition during the Iowa Post-Secondary Agriculture Student (PAS) Leadership Conference, held on February 4th and 5th. Dordt was also represented in the organization’s leadership this year, as junior Vern Oostra was elected as president of the Iowa association.

“We dominated,” said Holly Enerson, a junior and president of the Dordt College Ag Club. “Actually Dordt did a really good job. My favorite moment was the awards ceremony and hearing Dordt called over and over again.”

The first day of the conference saw a series of team events in which Dordt was well represented. Dordt teams took first place awards in beef specialty, dairy specialty, swine specialty, and crop specialty. Dordt also had multiple teams compete in the dairy and beef specialties.

“All of our teams and Dordt in general…we’re a pretty close knit group. But even within our own teams, there’s friendly competition,” said Enerson.

The second day, consisting of individual events, also saw Dordt represented with four first place awards and two second place individuals. These events included Precision Ag, Ag Sales, and Employment Interviews.

Professor Gary De Vries feels that these events make Dordt’s participation in PAS worthwhile. “It gives students a chance to assess what they’ve learned and ask themselves, ‘do I have a good base to be in this industry?’ They can figure out if what they’ve learned in college is going to be useful. Any time you have to put your knowledge to the test it forces you to stretch yourself, and every time you stretch yourself, you grow. I see us staying strong in PAS, especially if we have a state officer…that’s going to keep us linked in.”

Vern Oostra, an Ag Business major from Hull, Iowa, became the first Dordt student to be elected to an officer position on the Iowa PAS leadership team.

“I’ve always wanted the chance to be a leader for an organization like PAS,” Oostra said. “I ran for president because I believed that I had the skills to help PAS for the better and to benefit the fellow officers that I would be working with.”

Besides leadership opportunities, Oostra also pointed out PAS’ networking aspects. “One thing that I’ve noticed with PAS is that all the members are able to network and make themselves known to industry leaders,” he said. “PAS is also allows college students to network with each other too.”

De Vries agreed that the ability for Dordt’s students to network with important figures, such as Iowa governor Terry Branstad, who was this year’s keynote speaker, is one of the many valuable aspects of Dordt’s involvement in PAS. However, he also pointed out the advantage of the student relationships developed through the organization.

“I hope they see the value of going to network, not only in the industry but with other students. These are their peers who will be in the industry at the same time as them – they’ll end up doing business with them later,” he said.

For now, though, the qualifying participants are gearing up for the National PAS conference to be held March 18-21, in Louisville, KY. Oostra is also acting as the chairman for the annual Dordt College Ag Day and already has plans for the 2013 event under way.

“Some of the co-chairs that I have working with me have some grand ideas that they are going after,” Oostra said. “I don’t want to give much away yet, because then it wouldn’t be a surprise. I plan to have a great Ag Day this year just like previous years.”

Kristina Heflin, Staff Writer

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