Written by Andrea Knack, Illinois Central College

As a freshman college student, I have likely already changed my major approximately twelve times throughout his first year. Thankfully though, I generously had the opportunity to be a first-time participant in Illinois Soybean Association’s new Growing Careers in Ag Mentorship Program. After touring five different businesses with various agricultural careers in each, I now feel confidently drawn towards a career that I never thought existed before I participated in this experience.

For me, the most memorable tour was at the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Edwards, IL. I grew up on a small-scale crop farm and have always had a high interest in biological sciences. Environmental conservation has also been one of my passions and finding a career in agriculture that also collides with helping conserve the environment has been my goal. Jeremy Beck, District Soil Conservationists at the Edwards NRCS office, spoke about many jobs they had taken on in fields to help prevent erosion or further erosion from happening or different farming techniques that will help to conserve the top soil in fields. Learning about the role of a soil conservationist opened my interests greatly and I now strongly believe that is the career I want to work towards.

From touring businesses like Tanners Orchard, Beck’s Hybrids, National Agricultural Research Center to Compeer Financial, each mentorship opportunity enlightened me in numerous different ways. I will take parts of each mentor’s words with me as I ground myself in my future career within the next few years and I hope to have the chance to influence young students like myself in the future the same way our mentors did for us. Thank you to each mentor personally for volunteering your wisdom and time for us, and I hope future students can find this experience as meaningful as us ICC students.

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