A budding leader in his field

By Jayson Jacoby, The Baker City Herald


For the Baker City Herald

Jon Calhoun is facing a busy junior and senior year at Oregon State University, but the excitement in his voice convinces that he wouldn't have it any other way.

From April through January, he will fly back to Kansas City, Mo., once a month to spend four days with the Agriculture Future of America's Student Advisory Team.

"It'll be a pretty busy term," he said.

The AFA's team, with nine members, is challenged with planning and facilitating the annual AFA Leaders Conference, which brings 550 students together in November in Kansas City.

"It's a completely agriculture-related conference," he said.

In addition to the monthly meetings, Calhoun will work with the Advisory Team through Google docs and Google calendar. As for the trips to Missouri, the AFA covers all travel expenses.

Calhoun, 20, is a 2009 graduate of Powder Valley High School, and is studying agriculture business management at OSU.

During high school he was involved with FFA - formerly Future Farmers of America, an organization similar to AFA.

Calhoun exhibited club lambs throughout the Pacific Northwest and participated in livestock evaluation and judging competitions. He's received his chapter and state FFA degrees, and is applying for his American degree.

He's continued FFA involvement in college, and is now the OSU Collegiate FFA president for 2011-2012.

In November 2011, he was sponsored to attend the AFA Leaders Conference.

"That's when I originally heard about the leadership opportunities through AFA," he said.

AFA's mission, according to the website, "is to create partnerships that identify, encourage and support outstanding college men and women preparing for careers in the agriculture and food industry."

The conference, held in Kansas City, covered four days.

"They have fantastic keynote speakers," he said.

The conference features three "tracks" - track one for freshmen and sophomores, track two for sophomores and juniors and track three for juniors and seniors.

Calhoun attended track two.

"Everything (at the conference) prepares college students for what's after college," he said.

The nine members of the Student Advisory Team are chosen from conference attendees. Calhoun is the only student from the West Coast.

"In AFA, a big push is to the West," he said.

He is the first AFA representative from Oregon State.

"I'm really excited," he said.

As part of the Advisory Team, Calhoun is a campus ambassador at OSU to promote the awareness of AFA. In addition to organizing the Leaders Conference, the team also participates in National Ag Day in Washington, D.C.

He flew home on Friday after participating in this year's Ag Day. He was one of 40 students selected to attend.

While in D.C., he attended workshops and trainings and visited with Rep. Peter DeFazio, Rep. Greg Walden and Sen. Jeff Merkley.

"It was a cool way to see (Washington, D.C.) for the first time," Calhoun said.

As for his involvment with AFA and the Leaders Conference, Calhoun sees it as a great opportunity to develop his career path.

"It'll be a fantastic networking opportunity," he said. "We'll be in the eyes of the agricultural giants of the Midwest and the world."

He plans to graduate from OSU in June of 2013.

"Then I've talked myself into graduate school," he said.

The Baker City Herald
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