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The second annual Agriculture and Food Literacy Summit featured a panel discussion with "agripreneurs" among other speakers addressing the need to bridge communication between agriculture and consumers. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

The second annual Agriculture and Food Literacy Summit featured a panel discussion with "agripreneurs" among other speakers addressing the need to bridge communication between agriculture and consumers. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

March 15, 2019

Students, industry leaders gather for ag and food literacy summit


About 125 students, community members and industry professionals on Thursday filled the Conference Center at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park as Northwest Missouri State University hosted its second annual Agriculture and Food Literacy Summit.

The summit brought educators, producers, industry professionals and students together for conversation around helping consumers, as well as youth, better understand and appreciate the food system.

“What we’re trying to do is build awareness about agriculture and food literacy and really bridging the gap between producers and consumers,” Rod Barr, the director of the School of Agricultural Science at Northwest, said. “It’s really about communication and telling the story of agriculture and how that relates to food sources and open up a discussion.”

Featured speakers included Davin Althoff, division director of agriculture business development for the Missouri Department of Agriculture, and Kate Lambert, director of marketplace education and engagements for FCS Financial. The day’s schedule also included panel discussions with “agripreneurs” and with Northwest students discussing their food choices.

Ryan Talkington, a sophomore agricultural education major from Bowling Green, Missouri, said he appreciated hearing from community members as well as Lambert, whose presentation centered on the need for agriculture professionals to better connect with consumers and understand their concerns.

“The fact that our University respects agriculture enough to have a summit is astounding to me,” Ryan Talkington, a sophomore agricultural education major from Bowling Green, Missouri, said. “Our University is stepping forward and taking pride in our agriculture, and informing people about a whole lot of stuff is really important.”

For Mollie Wibberg, a junior agriculture education major from Linn, Missouri, the summit helped her grasp the need to better educate children and consumers about the important role agriculture plays – and that children don’t have to grow up farming to find a role and be successful in the industry. Wibberg and her classmates are developing lesson plans to teach elementary-aged children about agriculture.

“The importance of this event is definitely to open our eyes to different aspects of ag and understand the level of communication of being an ag student at Northwest,” Wibberg said. “I am surrounded by ag students all the time, so it’s hard to see the lack of communication with businesses. But once they get business owners up there and talking, we get to see how there really is a gap between the industries.”

The summit also provided an important networking opportunity for Northwest students.

“Something that we look for when we go to events like this is once we listen to a speaker, we can get their contact information and bring them back to our chapters and classrooms,” Wibberg said. “Depending on where we go, we know we can call them and say, ‘Hey can you help us out with that?’”

The summit began with a pancake breakfast featuring Northwest Director of Athletics Andy Peterson as the keynote speaker. Peterson, who was named to his current role in July 2018, is a native of Trenton, Missouri, where he grew up on a family farm. He has master’s degrees in agriculture and physical education as well as bachelor’s degrees in agriculture economics and horticulture, all from Northwest. 

The event was sponsored by Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences and coincided with the 46th National Agriculture Day, a nationwide effort to tell the true story of American agriculture and remind citizens of the role agriculture plays. The summit is funded, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468