Sarah Widener–Staff Writer
The Agricultual Stewardship Center hosted agriculture students from ten different colleges and universities over November seventh and eighth. These students gathered to participate in the annual fall Iowa PAS conference. PAS stands for Professional Agricultural Student Organization an organization founded in 1890 with the goal of allowing students the ability to utilize skills learned in the classroom and network with other agricultural professionals. 16 Dordt students participated in the conference this year.
Iowa PAS president, Ashlynn Lingle of Des Moines Area Community College, opened the conference with a brief overview of the history and purpose of PAS. She highlighted upcoming changes in the organization, explained the format of the conference, and thanked President Hoekstra for hosting the event.
“I want to thank you for being the first group ever to use this newly dedicated building.” stated Dordt President Eric Hoekstra. “People in ag are special because they are the ones that fulfill on God’s behalf the prayer, ‘Give us this day our daily bread'” Following his student welcome, President Hoekstra prayed for the conference and the students.
Students than participated in state officer lead mixers where they were able to meet students from all over Iowa. Next, keynote speaker, Brian Hefty of PHD Ag, spoke on agriculture advocacy and issues. “We are part of the one percent of those in the US that are involved in agriculture and sometimes it feels like we are fighting the other ninety-nine percent.” explained Hefty. Hefty went on to state that the best way to clarify misconceptions in the often confusing field of agriculture is to tell stories that make people think of issues in new ways. “When you read the Bible, even if you don’t agree, you know that Jesus was a great, if not the greatest, teacher. How did he teach? He told stories.” Hefty told students several captivating stories exemplifying this technique. Students were very receptive of Hefty’s presentation punctuating the presentations conclusion with a round of applause.
Students selected between four workshop opportunities rotating between classrooms. These were “Interview Preparation” with Amy Westra, “Agricultural Sales and Marketing” with Gary DeVries and Mike Richards. “Ag strategies” with Andy Junkin, and “State Candid Preparation” with the current state officers.
After rotating between two workshops, students participated in a game called “Ag Olympics” which was followed by dinner. A talent show, dance, and karaoke closed out the night.
The second day of the PAS conference allowed students to select from six tour options. All tours were at local agriculture based businesses such as Agropur and TransOva Generics.