MANRRS Illinois traveled to Jacksonville, Florida for the MANRRS 36th Annual Training Conference, and Career Expo from March 24th-26th, 2022. MANRRS-Illinois brought 10 amazing students that represented the College of ACES and the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign.
Out of this group, two students represented the College of ACES as scholarship recipients at the MANRRS 36 National Conference. Lupe Zamora, a junior in Agricultural Consumer Economics, received the Farm Credit VIP Scholarship and Henal Patel, a senior in Agricultural Biological Engineering, was a recipient of the Cargill Thrive Scholarship. Throughout the conference, both scholars had the opportunity to meet the other scholars, engage in networking events, and special programming that helped showcase the different sectors of the companies.
Furthermore, four students from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign excelled in various professional development competitions at the MANRRS 36 National Conference. Amaury Castro, a senior majoring in Agricultural Consumer Economics, placed second in the Business Pitch competition for his company FlexSoil, which is an agricultural technology company that innovates agricultural sensors in the renewable energy industry by utilizing soil as the main source of energy. Jose De La O, a senior majoring in Communications, placed third in the Essay Contest and wrote about better using food resources by adopting food waste policies from different countries, utilizing leftovers, and properly distributing food usage to avoid food waste. Roxanne Patino, a senior majoring in Human Development and Family Studies, placed third in the Oral Research Competition for her research titled, “Social and Emotional Learning Group Work during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Reopening, and the Mobilization for Racial Justice”. Lastly, Kristine Schoenecker, a junior majoring in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, placed third in the Research Discussion regarding effective recruitment strategies and retention practices used by agricultural colleges in the U.S. and how this is important to build a sustainable agricultural career pipeline for students. In addition to the student award recipients, Diana Rodriguez was awarded MANRRS Advisor of the Year. Her dedication and a strong drive to provide students with the best opportunities and experiences as university students. The past 6 years of the MANRRS-Illinois Advisor have changed students’ lives and this award reflects those that Diana Rodriguez has impacted.
Below are some of the students' highlights from the conference and how they were impacted by partaking in this experience:
Amaury Castro: Senior majoring in Agricultural and Consumer Economics
“Something that I learned about the conference was getting out of my comfort zone and also getting to connect with other people across the country.
The impact the conference had on me professionally was to just put yourself out there and take risks that can lead to positive outcomes. I would talk to companies that were outside my area of study and find interesting things about the work they do and their mission. Overall, I had a great time with my team and also getting to know more about different regions of the United States.”
Jose De La O: Senior majoring in Communications
“The conference has particularly helped me learn how to be more productive in professionally working with my peers, also I learned great skills from the workshops that are essential in professional life such as how to discuss salaries.
The conference impacted me positively both on a professional and personal level, it truly helped me extend the value of my skills in the professional world. It helped me perceive in ways I stand out as compared to others. The conference showcased the true value of every individual.”
Nguyen Ha: Sophomore majoring in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
“This was my first in-person conference ever, and I've learned so much from it. I competed in the national essay competition for the very first time, and the prompt was to write about a solution that could possibly help the fight against food injustice. Being able to write this essay helped me learn so much about food injustice and the different types of solutions that people are looking at. However, I didn't just join the conference because of the competition. I wanted to go because of all the different opportunities to make connections both professionally and personally.
Being able to watch my friends compete in their respective competitions helped me learn more about the different ways that I could put myself out there. I was able to connect professionally through the career expo, such as the Worldwide Fund for Nature, Nutrien, and even the USDA. Being exposed to all the different opportunities in one place was incredible and so helpful. It is nice to see the different career paths that we can achieve. Getting the opportunity to go to this conference was incredible, and I cannot wait to do this again next year.”
Henal Patel: Senior majoring in Agricultural and Biological Engineering
“By partaking in this National Conference, I had the ability to build new connections, converse with industry professionals, and engage with other scholars from many different universities across the United States. Having a conference that celebrates diversity and provides opportunities that are not found everywhere was extremely beneficial and refreshing. It was an incredibly impactful conference to attend, and I am extremely grateful that the MANRRS-Illinois chapter had 10 students representing the University of Illinois, more specifically the College of ACES, at this year's MANRRS National Conference.
This conference has impacted me by showcasing a whole new experience that helped me build lifelong relationships and provide me with new professional development opportunities. Before attending this National Conference, I had no idea the impact that a 4-day conference could have, and I now look forward to attending the future MANRRS National Conference as a MANRRS and University of Illinois Alumni.”
Roxanne Patino: Senior majoring in Human Development and Family Studies
“Attending the conference really opened my eyes to the immense potential people of underrepresented backgrounds have. Oftentimes, we minorities go unrecognized, and attending the conference was a day to highlight all our achievements collectively and individually. This conference was something I never attended before, and it was just beautiful and enlightening. Everyone should have an opportunity to attend a conference such as this one.
The impact this conference had on me was beyond what I could ever imagine. Professionally, I had the opportunity to learn from students, staff, and businesses. Personally, I had the opportunity to get closer to my MANRRS-Illinois team.”