Alumni Spotlight: Emily Jerve '00

When Emily Jerve '00 (B.S. Science in Agriculture) first came to the University of Minnesota, she aspired to become a veterinarian. Like any freshman student would, she changed her major when she realized vet school was not the path for her.  She then focused her studies on international agriculture, state government, and policy. Jerve was able to travel abroad during her time at the university, fueling her passion for international agriculture. "My education exposed me to new places and cultures. I had never been beyond North America before my first study abroad experience my junior year in Cork, Ireland. I met amazing people and realized there was an entire world to explore."

Name: Emily Jerve
Degree/Major: B.S. Science in Agriculture
Grad Year : 2000
Advisor(s): Alan Hunter
Current role: Research Analyst
Current organization/ employer: Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Favorite memory of campus: 

My senior year I took a class unlike any other. A group of eight students, led by Steve Clarke and Steve Simmons, studied the agroecosystems of Morocco. Each week in Coffey Hall we learned about Moroccan culture and hospitality, cuisine, religion, and natural resources. We then traveled to Morocco and visited farms, mountains, deserts, oases, and ancient medinas. We enjoyed Moroccan cuisine as a form of "market research" for the country's agriculture. We took advantage of the longstanding partnership between the University of Minnesota and the Ecole Nationale d’Agriculture in Morocco.

Why did you choose CFANS as a college?

My original plan was to be a veterinarian. The campus offered easy access to the faculty, students, and the facilities. Midway into my freshman year I realized vet school was not for me. This realization opened me up to other opportunities CFANS (called COAFES way back then) offered. As I finished my prerequisites and prepared to write my thesis, I was able to take coursework in international agriculture and state government and policy. While graduating with my original major, my career path went in a completely different direction.

Why do you think the University of Minnesota is great? 

There are so many reasons the University of Minnesota is great. First and foremost are the people. The moment I stepped foot on campus as a prospective student, I felt welcomed and inspired. Each campus has its own vibe and offers a rich array of programming in the arts, music, and sports. In addition, the University of Minnesota is located in the heart of the Twin Cities and is a short trip away from eclectic neighborhoods like St. Anthony, Cedar Riverside, and Como. It has so much to offer both on campus and off.

What are some professional achievements you have been proud of since graduating from the U? 

I served as an agricultural extension agent with the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa. After completing my service, I worked at the Urban Institute in the Center on International Development and Governance in Washington, D.C. I received my masters in International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University. I then returned to Minnesota and worked for the USDA, NASS in St. Paul collecting and analyzing crop and livestock data. In 2012, I moved to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in the Agricultural Marketing and Development Division where I currently serve as a research analyst. I work with Minnesota food and ag companies on export initiatives, which can range anywhere from transportation to trade shows. I recently completed the Emerging Leader Institute, a 7-month leadership development program designed to prepare future leaders in Minnesota state government.

What's your passion? What do you love about your work and your field? 

I love agriculture because it intersects with agronomy, climate, culture, transportation, policy, planning, data collection and analysis, marketing, and more. I enjoy working with producers, whether they are growing millet or soybeans. I also love eating and cooking, and “sampling” is a huge perk for me.

How did your education at the U of M help prepare you for what you are doing today?

My education exposed me to new places and cultures. I had never been beyond North America before my first study abroad experience my junior year in Cork, Ireland. I met amazing people and realized there was an entire world to explore. While in Ireland I did research for my thesis on consumer preferences of the potato. That research helped me connect two concepts that underscore my career – international and agriculture – while also allowing me to build on research skills I’d use later for my master’s thesis. I took Italian classes for two years which paved the path to learning Pulaar and Wolof for Peace Corps. It also helped me connect with family history and cultural heritage. I met a network of classmates and faculty that I am still in contact with to this day. And it gave me a lifelong appreciation of learning. I now bring my son to campus each year for Classes Without Quizzes.

What advice do you have for current students (and future alumni)?

Study and work hard. But remember to get out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve never done before. You have access to amazing faculty, facilities, and resources. Use them to their fullest extent. Also, participate in the CFANS Mentor Program. Find a mentor at companies and in sectors you are considering and explore different workplaces. A future career may take shape in the form of what you don’t want to do. When you graduate, pay it forward and become a mentor.

May 2017

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