Lincoln County, Mo. - A pair of Lincoln County sophomores was recently selected to spend several days exploring careers in agriculture.

Troy Buchanan High School’s Karson Calvin and Silex High School’s Natalie Kientzy are two of the 30 sophomores picked to participate in the Missouri Agribusiness Academy, to be held from June 7 to June 9 in the Mid-Missouri Region.  

The class will convene in Jefferson City, then travel through the region visiting agriculture businesses, learning about career opportunities in animal health, production agriculture and more.   

“When the opportunity was given to me to apply, it was a good chance for me to learn more about the industry,” Calvin said.

During that time, Calvin and Kientzy will be learning about careers not only in just agriculture, but building leadership skills and learning more about farming, ranching and food production.

The 30 participants are grouped into districts based on geography. Kientzy and Calvin represent the Northeast District, along with three others. The application process was whittled down from hundreds of written interviews to 10 in the district, which was picked to do an oral interview over ZOOM.

From there, the top five were selected.

“The process was definitely challenging,” Kientzy said. “I had a lot going on at the time, so it was challenging, but definitely worth it.”

“Giving back to agriculture is important and we’re thrilled to contribute to the future of agriculture through MAbA,” said Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn. “I’m so proud of each of these students and the accomplishments they’ve already achieved as leaders. 

“We hope that MAbA helps each of them add value to those skills and ultimately find their future in an agriculture career.”

To be eligible for the MAbA, students must come from a farming family or be an active member of the National FFA Organization or 4-H. The 2021 MAbA class will tour agribusinesses, explore educational opportunities and meet with agricultural leaders in the Mid-Missouri area.

Calvin has been involved in FFA in one way or another since birth, and his father, Rob Calvin, is an agriculture teacher at Troy Buchanan. Kientzy grew up on her family’s farm, and is also a member of the Silex FFA.

Kientzy said it’s an honor to represent Lincoln County at MAbA – and to have two from the same county at the academy is even better.

“It’s pretty great,” she said. “I’m proud of where I come from, and to get to do this with Karson, who is from the same area, is awesome.”

Since 1988, the Missouri Agribusiness Academy has awarded more than 990 academy memberships through a competitive application and interview process for high school sophomores interested in pursuing agriculture-related college degrees and careers.

Calvin wants to follow in his father’s footsteps, and believes his participation in these programs is the vehicle that will take him there.

“Last year, I was part of HyMax (through Missouri FFA), which was the top 100 freshmen in the state learning about agriculture,” Calvin said. “I want to be an ag teacher (like my father) to be a part of the future of agriculture.

“My participation in these academies will hopefully open up more networking opportunities for HYPE (Helping Youth Prepare For Excellence), which is for juniors, and should help me prepare for college.”

Kientzy, on the other hand, is leaving the door open.

“I kind of see two paths – and I hope the Missouri Agribusiness Academy helps me see which one,” she said. “I either want to go into agronomy, or agricommunications.”

For additional information about the 2021 Missouri Agribusiness Academy, as well as more information on the Department of Agriculture, please visit the department online at Agriculture.Mo.Gov.