CAS Leadership Academy Alumni Panel

Spring 2018 Issue

Since the program began in 2011, the Academy has graduated over 120 students and will be graduating its largest cohort to date of 32 students this June. One of the main goals of the CAS Leadership Academy is to prepare students to be successful early-career professionals in the field of agriculture and related industries. With many Leadership Academy alumni now a few years into their careers, at the end of winter term 2018, the CAS Leadership Academy hosted its first Leadership Academy Alumni Panel.

After reaching out to over a dozen Academy graduates who have all pursued a wide array of career opportunities since graduating from OSU, the Leadership Academy was fortunate to welcome eight Academy alumni back to campus to speak to the current cohort. The alumni in attendance included Riane Towery, a Business and Technology teacher at Silverton High School, Helen Walters of Campbell Global, Rozalyn Patrick and Tyler West, who are both Credit Officers at Northwest Farm Credit Services, Kasey Erm, a Crop Advisor for Crop Production Services, a Forest Silviculturist for the Oregon Bureau of Land Management, Jessica Jansen, the Executive Director of Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom, and Jordan Trevor, the Manager of Marketing and Business Operations at Vista Pet Hospital in Portland, Oregon.

Over the course of the two-hour seminar period, the current cohort members where able to interact with the alumni in large and small group settings. Each alum was introduced by reading a quote they wrote years ago, prior to graduating from the Academy, about their career plans after college. Photos of each speaker, taken during their time in the Leadership Academy, also accompanied each quote. Some alumni explained how they had followed their plans while other explained how their career plans had diverged and developed over the years.

Kasey Erm, of the 2013-2014 cohort, reminded the current fellows to “use every opportunity as a stepping stone laterally or forward.” Similarly, Riane Towery, of the 2014-2015 cohort, encouraged the follows make every opportunity a meaningful experience by asking the question “What can I learn from this situation?” Through this initial discussion, the alumni encouraged the fellows to apply for numerous job positions, contact people in job positions they are interested in pursuing to conduct “informational interviews,” and to stay flexible and open minded.  

Eating a mealAfter the current Academy fellows introduced themselves to the alumni, the group split into small dinner groups, giving the Academy fellows an opportunity to practice their networking skills by asking follow-up questions sparked from the alumni’s introductions. After dinner, the group reconvened as a large group so that the cohort could ask specific questions about life after college, being a successful early-career professional, and utilizing skills learned in the Leadership Academy in their current jobs.

Individually, all the alumni who attended this event are very successful early-career professionals. Having the opportunity to have them as a part of a panel discussion truly brought this Leadership Academy seminar to the next-level as each alum shared insight that built upon and expanded each other’s points while answering questions directly from the cohort.

We want to give a huge thank you to the alumni for their willingness to fit this event into their busy schedules mid-week and making the trip back to OSU to speak. We hope that it was as fun for all of them to come back to the Academy as it was for us to see what they have all achieved since graduating from the CAS Leadership Academy over the last seven years.

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