AECM Students Participate in CFANS Mentor Program

Mentor ProgramEach year, the CFANS Mentor Program connects professionals with students to help them develop professional skills, learn how to network, and explore career opportunities. This year, the program includes 117 student-mentor pairs!

Kristin Liepold, a senior studying Agricultural Communication & Marketing, is a mentee in the program again this year. “The main goal of the mentor program is a monthly interaction using several different learning avenues,” Kristin said. For example, students may meet with their mentor over coffee to discuss career opportunities. They may also attend conferences or meetings together to learn about a specific topic within the agriculture industry or company. Mentees can even shadow their mentor for a day, allowing them to ask questions and see what a certain role is like. Kristin said, “You are welcome to have a virtual meeting or Skype meeting, but it is more beneficial to meet in person to ask questions.”

While there are many benefits to the CFANS Mentor Program Kristin said, “The biggest benefit of the program is the one-on-one interaction with an industry professional… It always helps to get a little extra practice and the second set of eyes, I have practiced interviewing skills and reviewed my resume with my mentor.” The mentor’s goal is to help students learn, explore career opportunities, and even be a resource when it comes to networking and connections.

The program has made a direct impact on Kristin, allowing her to connect with professionals across the swine industry. Last year, her mentor was JoDee Haala of Christensen Farms. “By experiencing real-work audits with JoDee, I discovered the many possibilities within the industry and developed my passion for animal welfare auditing,” Kristin said. She was also able to talk with production managers and communications specialists, asking questions about Christenen Farms and their specific jobs. “The mentorship does not end in May. These professionals want to see you succeed and will help you through your career path. They want to be lifelong mentors for you, asking questions and keeping in contact.”

The mentor program is open to freshmen through Ph.D. students and the mentors are volunteers who are both alumni and non-alumni professionals. This year there were many students in the Agricultural Education, Communication and Marketing program who were paired with mentors, some of which are CFANS alumni:

  • Alex Broderius & David Shimota
  • Daniel Hayes & Christine Wicks
  • Elaina Huffman & Ryan Kelbrants
  • Amanda Langley & Justin Crowley
  • Kayla Leiding & Sarah Schmidt
  • Kristin Liepold & Michael Crusan
  • Madison Muir & Paul Hugunin
  • Emily Pliscott & Adam Ulbricht
  • Joe Ramstad & Brad Harguth
  • Max Ritter & Whitney Place

Interested in participating in the mentor program next year? Applications for the 2018-2019 school year have not opened yet, but students should be watching next semester for the application! Mentors, registration for the program is available year-round. Follow this link to fill out an application! If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Mentor Program Committee at for more information.