High Expectations; MILE Program graduates first 14-student cohort
By: Lindsay Kennedy
The 14 undergraduate student members of Texas Tech University's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources' Matador Institute of Leadership Engagement (MILE) graduated from the program May 2 during a ceremony held at the university's International Cultural Center.
The MILE Program 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 provided 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 USDA agencies and officials, including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, as well as staff within the House 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, Texas. "Each trip and meeting helped me develop a broader understanding of the ag industry and how I can make a difference."
J.W. Morgan, an agricultural and applied economics major from Pilot Point, Texas, 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's 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 CASNR Dean Bill Brown. "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 14 students in the first cohort represented the diverse academic departments within CASNR are:
• Aspen Eaton, Agricultural Communications, Ovalo, Texas
• Heath Hadley, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Farwell, Texas
• Jacie Henefey, Animal Science, D'Hanis, Texas
• McKenna Johnson, Agricultural Communications, Floydada, Texas
• Brandon Jones, Animal Science, Veguita, New Mexico
• Kaylynn Kiker, Animal Science, Allison, Texas
• Reginald Lane, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Bridgeport, Texas
• JW Morgan, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Pilot Point, Texas
• Brynn Owen, Animal Science, Canyon, Texas
• Maggie Pipkin, Agricultural Communications, Spearman, Texas
• Anevay Sanchez, Natural Resources Management, Odessa, Texas
• John Smithwick, Animal Science, Lubbock, Texas
• Carson Wienecke, Natural Resources Management, Lometa, Texas
• Hagan Wright, Natural Resources Management, Wolforth, Texas
CONTACT: Lindsay Kennedy, Instructor, Department of Agricultural Education & Communications, College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 834-8240 or firstname.lastname@example.org
0506NM19 / PHOTO: (bottom, left to right) CASNR Dean Bill Brown, Landmark Nurseries CEO Jim Prewitt and CASNR Associate Dean for Academic and Student Programs Cindy Akers
Editor's Note: The recruitment and application process for the second cohort of the MILE Program will begin in August 2019. For more information about the CASNR MILE Program, click here