Postsecondary Agricultural Student chapter thriving at ICCC
By KRISS NELSON
FORT DODGE – The Postsecondary Agricultural Student organization at Iowa Central Community College has seen recent success after some of its members advanced to a national competition.
About 20 students from the PAS organization attended the spring PAS conference and competition, held in Moravia, according to Mike Richards, the organization’s advisor at Iowa Central.
Of those 20, 11 advanced to the national competition in St. Charles, Missouri.
Richards said the organization holds monthly meetings and provides frequent opportunities for its members to compete at both the state and national levels.
He added PAS provides many benefits to the students who join.
“The biggest benefit would be exposure for the students as far as networking opportunities with other students at other colleges and universities and with potential employers within the ag industry,” Richards said.
Included among the available competitions at the state and national levels are agriculture sales, college bowl, crop specialist, career planning and progress, employment interview, overall livestock and equine specialist, and impromptu and prepared agriculture speaking.
PAS member Ben Kenobbie, of Laurens, has served in leadership at all levels of the organization.
He has been a leader for the college’s organization, served as Iowa’s PAS state president last year and was recently elected as national vice president during the national PAS conference.
Kenobbie is the first Iowa Central student to serve in a national PAS office.
He said he’ll be attending an officer training program to be given the exact directions of his position, but he’s already anticipating a large involvement with area state PAS conferences, as well as helping to plan next year’s national conference.
Being involved in PAS has given Kenobbie a variety of experiences.
“I have really learned to work as a team by competing with team events, but I also have been able to improve myself,” he said. “Being elected state PAS president last year and am now a national vice president, it has helped to push myself and really help network Iowa Central a lot.”
This year, Kenobbie competed in the college bowl at the state level as well as the impromptu speaking competition.
Placing first in impromptu speaking, Kenobbie earned a trip to compete at the national level, where he placed third.
“At state I was also helping to run the conference and at nationals I did my interviews for office in addition to my competitions,” Kenobbie said. “Needless to say, I was busy.”
He said 2016 was a memorable year for both him and Iowa Central at the national conference.
“I received first overall in the livestock specialist in the nation and we also had two other individuals place in the top ten as well,” he said.
But he said the PAS organization has been more than just competitions.
“It really helps a person grow and get to know the industry more, because it keeps changing,” he said. “It will help an individual get better involved on their campus at college. We make college what we want it to be and PAS is a great way to get involved.”
Iowa Central students Shannon Michelson, of Ocheydan, and Danille Peterson, of Alta, were two of Kenobbie’s teammates in the college bowl at the state conference competition.
Michelson, who competed and attended the state and national conferences for the first time, also earned a spot at nationals in the employment interview contest.
“With the competition I was in, it has really helped me get ready for the real world,” she said. “Learning how to do interviews correctly and to make a resume and cover letter.”
Peterson is a first year member of the PAS organization and helped cover the national event for the organization’s social media pages.
A social media and journalism major, Peterson said being able to cover the national conference was a great learning opportunity.
“I went to help keep social media updated on what was going on and I got that experience,” she said. “I took photos of the competitors and kept the public updated as to what was going on.”
Even though she’s not an ag student, Peterson said she still finds her involvement in PAS worthwhile.
“I have lived on a farm my whole life, so agriculture is a big part of who I am, and I am passionate about it,” she said, “but at this time, I am not pursuing a career in the agricultural field.
“But with my major in journalism and social media, anything can be tied to agriculture, and having that background has advanced me in PAS.”
Among the benefits PAS has had on her include allowing her to meet people.
“I have friends here on campus from several different programs, and some of my good friends are from PAS, and that makes it more enjoyable,” she said. “In college you have to make friends and I started off not knowing anyone.”
PAS allowed her to not only meet people, but provided her the chance to interact with them outside of the classroom. These included not just Iowa Central students, but those from other colleges as well.
Peterson is one of the vice presidents of Iowa Central’s PAS chapter. She plans on continuing to serve as an officer next year and said she hopes to take advantage of more competitions.
According to Richards, Peterson is one of a large number of non-ag students involved in PAS this year, which he said has helped evolve the program.
Iowa Central’s PAS growth
The PAS organization at Iowa Central started back in 2009.
According to Richards, every year it has between 20 and 30 members, and over the past two to three years, interest has grown in the program.
“We have really started to see more people wanting to compete, and we are much more competitive,” he said. “We have had four state officers in the last four years, and Ben is our first national officer.
“I think they all have done a great job on building on what has happened the last few years through PAS.”
In order for students to be able to attend state and national conferences, the PAS members seek sponsorships. Many times, Richards said, the students will go to their hometowns for financial aid, which also helps to spread the word about PAS.
Kenobbie said sponsorships have many benefits.
“Sponsorships help with our fees, dues, travel expenses and more,” said Kenobbie.
Those sponsors are then recognized at the annual Friends of Agriculture banquet, according to Richards.
This banquet is put on by the PAS students in conjunction with Iowa Central’s culinary arts department.
“We take two programs and they work together to plan a meal,” said Richards.
PAS was founded in 1980 with a mission to “provide opportunities for individual growth, leadership and career preparation.”
Its vision is to aspire to be the premier leadership and career development organization serving college agriculture students with its motto, “uniting education and industry in agriculture.”
“PAS is more than a club that allows us to meet people as students,” said Kenobbie. “It allows us to network ourselves with industry.”
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