BVU’s First Agriculture Student Expo Welcomes Young Learners From All Over Iowa

At the event, agriculture industry professionals shared their expertise on campus. High school students participated in hands-on learning opportunities during breakout sessions in animal science, soil health, ag business, and more.

Students from all over Iowa came together at Buena Vista University on Wednesday for the inaugural Agriculture Student Expo, an event dedicated to ag programs at BVU.

Matt Meiners, director for BVU’s new Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Resource Management, shared two important takeaways from the day’s events.

“No. 1: Students learned something, which was the primary goal,” Meiners says. “No. 2: Students and those who helped put on the event had fun.”

Nowhere was the fun more apparent than at a breakout session directed by Jim Venner, who teaches at BVU when he’s not directing Venner Limousin & Ag Vision Enterprise, the family business he’s been a part of for 40 years. Venner had a cow/calf with him on this day for students to observe, touch, ask about, and, in one case, sing to.

Venner laughed and hit “record” on his phone as Newell-Fonda High School sophomore Paige Roberts broke into a parody of “Call Me Maybe” in which she altered lyrics to demonstrate how she memorized the compartments of a stomach’s cow, and more.

“We had a lot of fun,” Meiners says.

Venner joined representatives with Corteva Agriscience and Farm Credit Services of America in conducting hands-on demonstrations about their roles in the ag industry. Students from as far away as West Des Moines and Sidney rotated among the learning stations, visiting with professionals and getting to know more about BVU’s new agricultural programming, which will be set off by a number of new ag business and science courses, all designed to equip students with skills they’ll need to secure employment opportunities in the areas of food, agriculture, renewable resources, the environment, and more.

Meiners, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from BVU in 2016, has traveled internationally to promote Iowa’s agricultural products; and worked extensively on the 2018 Farm Bill while employed in Washington, D.C. After earning his master’s degree in public policy from Liberty University, he returned to BVU to become the first director for his alma mater’s new Institute.

“I was moving throughout the day on Wednesday and stepped into a breakout session run by Farm Credit, where they were presenting a case study,” Meiners says. “The first question about the case study came from a student, who wanted to know if the input costs were correct. I was incredibly impressed with the knowledge our high school students already possess.”

Meiners notes that even Mother Nature played a role in ensuring a success Agricultural Student Expo as the gray skies didn’t release their showers until the sessions were complete.

“This represents an exciting start for our new program, and we are sure the Student Expo will be an annual event, something we’d like to host on the first Wednesday of every April,” Meiners said.