Ag Summit 2018 encourages student involvement in the future of farming

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During the 2018 Kansas Ag Summit, Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey gave the closing remarks. The confrence focused on Agricultural Growth in the state, by collaboration between farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses in the state. (Katherine Wist | Collegian Media Group)

Farmers, growers and agribusiness members gathered at Kansas State for the third annual Kansas Agricultural Growth Summit to join discussions on the advancement of agriculture.

The summit began Wednesday with a dinner and social at K-State’s Stanley Stout Center and continued Thursday with breakout seminars and addresses from Gov. Jeff Colyer, Lieutenant Gov. Tracey Mann and Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Each year, the summit looks at 19 sector-specific growth plans and what may be relevant, shifts in the industry and different priorities for these sectors, said Mary Soukup, assistant secretary of the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

“There is the opportunity to add more outcomes or change them,” Soukup said. “Sometimes is may be something like passing legislation. Others are more long term processes.”

A significant factor that brought the Ag Summit to Manhattan was the ability to be near students, Soukup said.

Soukup said there were many students at the event working or learning, including members of the National Future Farmers of America Organization, or FFA, and interns in the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

“I definitely think that coming to K-State and being near a lot of students to connect with them is a top priority in all that we do,” she said. “There are a lot of really great opportunities to connect with industry leaders from across the state.”

Katie Lybarger, sophomore in animal science and industry and Department of Agriculture intern, said the summit was also a networking opportunity.

“This is also a unique opportunity to network and look into a career,” Lybarger said. “Bringing people from all over the state to Manhattan is very beneficial.”

Elizabeth Meyer, junior in agricultural education and FFA member, attended a sector break out on specialty crops, seeking an opportunity for growth.

“I’m passionate about keeping up to date with how agriculture is changing,” Meyer said. “There are constantly new changes and we need to come up with new solutions. Even if I am not directly related to the issues, for example specialty crops, since I am a producer and a consumer of those products, it does effect me.”

“It is very much that there are so many diverse backgrounds that makes this an excellent opportunity,” Meyer said. “We can all learn from each other.”

Soukup said the unique thing about the summit is that everyone is brought together under one roof.

“Whether you are a beef producer or a vegetable grower, it doesn’t matter,” Soukup said. “We have a place for you here. We have a place for everyone.”

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I’m Bailey Britton, a freshman from Colby, KS. I am double majoring in print journalism and secondary education with a focus in English and journalism. This semester I am of the assistant news editors. Writing and reading have always been passions of mine. When I have free time, I like to play tennis and be active or curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee.