Zac VanderLey—Staff Writer
Dordt’s agriculture club sent 31 students to the Professional Agriculture Students (PAS) competition in Ames, Iowa. All 31 students qualified for nationals. Agriculture clubs from Iowa State University, Dordt University, and other Iowa community colleges competed in individual and team competitions from Feb. 9-11. While these students are used to hands on jobs in the agriculture field, the PAS competition provides an opportunity for agriculture students to showcase their content knowledge and job preparedness.
Emma Zwart, a junior agriculture major, participated in the beef livestock production employment interview. She submitted a resume and cover letter in addition to interviewing for a mock job.
“It’s just an excellent way, competitively, to practice our skills for interviewing for internships and jobs in the future in a very forgiving environment,” Zwart said.
She received second place in her individual competition in the beef category, scoring 185 out of 200 points possible. One judge scores the resume and cover letter out of 100 points, and another judge scores the interview out of 100 points, creating a total of 200 points for the individual competitions. Last year, Zwart made it to nationals in the swine category.
Katie Bush, a junior agriculture secondary education major, placed second in the employment interview for agriculture education with a score of 182 out of 200, qualifying her for nationals. She reviewed notes from her classes and watched videos of speakers in preparation for her competitions.
“For me, it isn’t about the awards or the placements,” Bush said. “It’s about using the gifts God gave me to help make experiences like nationals something that the members will remember and hold close to their hearts even after we leave Dordt.”
In addition to individual competitions, PSA offered collaborative team competitions. Teams of three to four students took a written test, worked through a case study, and presented a final presentation on a current event in agriculture. Zwart and Bush competed together on the beef specialist team number two along with Heidi Hammen. The team finished 3rd overall.
This year, many of the presentations commented on the proposition 12 legislative act in California. The act requires, among other things, pork and eggs to come from crate and cage-free housing if they are to be sold according to the California department of food and agriculture.
The PSA nationals will run from March 16-19 in a suburb outside of Minneapolis. Zwart will participate in her first physical nationals’ event, as last year occurred online.
After growing up on a farm in Hull, Iowa where her family raised sheep, goats, hogs, and a head of cattle, Zwart knew she wanted to pursue a career in agriculture.
“It’s just being a steward of God’s creation,” Zwart said. “You are so connected to everything God created.”
Bush has participated in state and national PAS the past three years, competing in categories such as impromptu speaking, swine production, and nursery landscape.
She grew up on a farm and has been surrounded by agriculture her entire life. At the age of five, Bush had already begun helping her grandpa raise pigs, grow corn, and grow soybeans. Her parents raise poultry while her aunts and uncles also have animal and crops operations.
“Agriculture is the foundation of life,” Bush said, “and is one of the most unique ways that we can answer God’s calling for humanity.”