The 14 students completed the three-semester leadership program earlier this month.
The 14 undergraduate student members of the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources' (CASNR) Matador Institute of Leadership Engagement (MILE) graduated from the program on Thursday (May 2) during a ceremony held at Texas Tech University's International Cultural Center.
MILE is a three-semester leadership certificate program that seeks to develop participants' personal and professional skills through high-impact learning experiences in agriculture and policy. Agricultural tours and meetings with industry representatives provide hands-on training for students throughout the MILE program while shaping their understanding of the key issues affecting the industry at the local, state and national levels.
"This program is creating a pipeline of trained young agricultural leaders who are equipped with the skills, knowledge and understanding of the issues and challenges facing Texas agriculture and its rural communities," said Lindsay Kennedy, MILE program director. "This is an outstanding group of students, and I have high expectations for what they will accomplish in their careers."
During the program, students traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with United States Department of Agriculture agencies and officials, including Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, as well as staff within the U.S. House of Representatives agriculture committee and other government agencies and agricultural organization representatives. In March, MILE students were part of the 250-person delegation from the Texas Tech University System who converged in Austin to promote key priorities, including the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine, to legislators.
"The MILE program has been a life-changing experience for me," said MILE member, Jacie Henefey, an animal science major from D'Hanis. "Each trip and meeting helped me develop a broader understanding of the agriculture industry and how I can make a difference."
J.W. Morgan, an agricultural and applied economics major from Pilot Point, said his experiences in the program have helped shape his career goals.
"As an agriculturist, being involved in the governing process is vital to our industry," Morgan said. "The trips to D.C. and Austin really invigorated my passion for agriculture and the importance of being an involved citizen."
During the graduation ceremony, Jim Prewitt, CEO of Landmark Nurseries, was presented the first MILE Excellence in Leadership Award for his contributions to the program. Cindy Akers, CASNR associate dean for academic and student programs, presented the award to Prewitt.
"Mr. Prewitt is a true leader in the Texas agriculture industry, and he is committed to developing the next generation of leaders," Akers said. "His contributions and service to the MILE have been instrumental to the success of the program."
During the three-semester program, MILE participants enrolled in three academic courses focused on the personal, service and community aspects of leadership, and each completed a professional internship experience.
"What sets CASNR programs apart is that classroom activities are complimented with out-of-class opportunities for students, such as the MILE Program," said Bill Brown, CASNR dean. "These experiences help students to mature and develop their leadership skills, learn to work in teams and be ready to enter the marketplace following graduation."
The students who comprise CASNR's first MILE cohort are:
- Aspen Eaton of Ovalo, Department of Agricultural Education & Communications
- Heath Hadley of Farwell, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics
- Jacie Henefey of D'Hanis, Department of Animal & Food Sciences
- McKenna Johnson of Floydada, Department of Agricultural Education & Communications
- Brandon Jones of Veguita, New Mexico, Department of Animal & Food Sciences
- Kaylynn Kiker of Allison, Department of Animal & Food Sciences
- Reginald Lane of Bridgeport, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics
- J.W. Morgan of Pilot Point, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics
- Brynn Owen of Canyon, Department of Animal & Food Sciences
- Maggie Pipkin of Spearman, Department of Agricultural Education & Communications
- Anevay Sanchez of Odessa, Department of Natural Resources Management
- John Smithwick of Lubbock, Department of Animal & Food Sciences
- Carson Wienecke of Lometa, Department of Natural Resources Management
- Hagan Wright of Wolfforth, Department of Natural Resources Management
The recruitment and application process for the second cohort of the MILE program will begin in August. For more information about the MILE program, visit www.casnr.ttu.edu/mile.