Alumni Ambassadors can help shine a spotlight on CFANS

Mary BuschetteEvery year at commencement, we celebrate our newest CFANS alumni advocates, our graduating seniors. I so enjoy seeing graduates as they end one chapter of their lives and begin another. I've had the opportunity to get to know many of the students through the CFANS Mentor Program, as Alumni Society scholarship recipients or through their involvement in student groups, and it's so much fun to cheer the new graduates on and to welcome them to the Alumni Society with an alumni lapel pin and a tree seedling grown by one of our own graduates, Michelle Olsen. As the members of the Class of 2015 begin their new adventures, we are excited about a new opportunity for them, and all of our CFANS alumni, to have a meaningful impact on the college: the CFANS Alumni Ambassador program.

During a recent visit, a CFANS grad asked me what the college wants from our alumni. That's a great question! Often the first thought is financial support, and yes, that is very important. Financial contributions can make a college education possible for a student or support important research. And yet there are many additional ways to support the college that are equally important. Alumni can help identify prospective students, be a resource to current students, or reach out to community leaders and decision makers to share stories of how their CFANS experience got them where they are today. Alumni also can provide valuable insight and feedback to the college.

Beginning this fall, CFANS will launch an ambassador program for alumni who would like to be more involved in outreach. Ambassadors will have the opportunity to engage with high school students at local career fairs, connect with transfer students at community colleges or volunteer at events around the state or country. We need your help to inform the next generation of leaders of the unique opportunities they have to address challenges confronting the world today. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released a report showing tremendous demand for recent college graduates with a degree in agricultural programs, with an estimated 57,900 high-skilled job openings annually in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment fields in the United States and only 35,000 graduates to fill them. No one can make the connections to these opportunities better than our alumni!

Whether you received your diploma in the last year, or 50 years ago, you have an important story to share and can play a vital role in identifying and supporting the food, agricultural and natural resource leaders of tomorrow. If you'd like to learn more, visit z.umn.edu/cfansaa. I hope you will join the effort.