By Jess Feldman
Five professionals in the fields of agricultural and natural resource policy discussed job opportunities after graduation with students at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resource’s (AGNR) career panel on September 24, 2018. The event was coordinated by Christina Farmer, Program Director within AGNR’s career services center. “This year I decided to focus on agriculture related careers in law and policy, to increase student’s exposure to industries they may have not considered,” said Farmer.
Mayhah Roma Suri, faculty specialist with the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) and the Center of Excellence at the Nexus of Sustainable Water Reuse, Food, and Health (CONSERVE), a USDA-funded program, spoke about her own work experiences with the University of Maryland Extension (Extension) and how ALEI’s efforts influence and support the state’s food system and agriculture economy.
“It is gratifying to work for an organization where you get to help people solve their problems by providing relevant, accessible information,” Suri said. “Too many people don’t know about Extension and the unique service it provides in the state. Being able to share that knowledge with bright, ambitious students was great!”
Other speakers included Matthew Teffeau, Director of Government Relations at the Maryland Department of Agriculture; Emily Lyons, Associate Attorney at Michael Best & Friedrich LLP; Colby Ferguson, Government Relations Director for the Maryland Farm Bureau; and Emilee Valentino, Senior Analyst for Resource Energy Systems, LLC.
Ferguson discussed the recently established Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter at the University of Maryland. The chapter is a college-level program of Maryland Farm Bureau encouraging undergraduates to engage with and advocate for farmers in the state, and providing students opportunities to improve public speaking skills and learn about the legislative process.
“The time following graduation can be emotionally and mentally challenging,” Suri said. “Professional success at that time depends a lot on personal strength and courage.”
Panelists encouraged students to reach out to alumni and advisors to learn more about the various companies and organizations in the fields of agriculture and natural resources.
“I hope the students who attended felt empowered to search for companies, reach out to professionals, and overall felt more comfortable being advocates for themselves,” Suri said