Location: Harrisburg, PA
College/University attended: Penn State University
Major: Agricultural and Extension Education
I am the chief operating officer at Versant Strategies, Pennsylvania’s leading public affairs firm specializing in agriculture, rural affairs, education, and environmental issues. Along with responsibilities of actively lobbying on behalf of Versant’s clients, I manage the association management arm of the firm and oversee day-to-day operations.
About the farm:
While I work off the farm, I still play an active role while my family continues to raise Polled Dorsets and club goats in Alexandria, Pennsylvania.
Why did you choose Penn State University?
I grew up in a small, rural high school. I was ready for the vast opportunities Penn State offered as a large institution while still providing the feeling of a small college within Agricultural Sciences. Penn State opened many doors to network with industry and prepared me for internship experiences which I credit for helping to jumpstart my career.
How are you using what you learned in college today?
Success in lobbying/advocating is rooted in relationships and education. While I’m no longer in the classroom, I am still educating folks about agriculture.
Advice for students thinking about college
Begin with the end in mind. I changed my major twice while at Penn State. However, I knew what I was generally interested in and worked daily toward my goals, be it in the lecture hall or networking at a club event or university function. While I truly view college as much as an experience as it is an education, be sure to become technically knowledgeable about the industry as a whole. Your knowledge and your connections will be valuable to a future employer.
What were some of your best college experiences?
My best memories are those when I was making and spending time with friends. I thoroughly enjoyed college, in part, because of those experiences. I continue to see those folks at industry events and am thankful for those great memories to build a career upon.
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