2014

Elite Members of National Student Team to Tour Fresno-Visalia Farms

FRESNO, Calif., June 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Summer vacation for most college students typically means relaxation and sleep. But for nine elite juniors and seniors from colleges across the country, it means hitting the road for a tour of farms and agri-business operations in California, North Carolina and St. Louis.

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These students, who were chosen through a competitive application process to serve on the Student Advisory Team for Agriculture Future of America (AFA), will be in Fresno June 8-11.

Hosted by Bank of the West, the students will visit Terranova Ranch in Helm on Sunday followed by visits with business owners and farms in the Madera-Fresno-Visalia area on Monday, including Diepersloot Ranch in Madera, Porterville Citrus in Terra Bella, Horizon Nut in Tulare, and Kingsburg Orchards.

On Tuesday, June 11, the students will visit Fresno State's Water, Energy and Technology (WET) Center, which provides an entryway for entrepreneurs to establish businesses and launch new technologies.  

Agri-business leaders in the area will be meeting with the students in the evenings to share insights and trends, from innovative technology to agri-business finance and best practices.

"California's Central Valley is one of the highest ag producing regions in the country, with growers and businesses who are known for their ability to adapt and implement innovation. The practices here – from technology to organizational development –are leading examples in the industry," said Curt Covington, senior vice president and area manager in the Agribusiness Banking Division at Bank of the West.

Based in Fresno, Covington is chairman and lead instructor for the Agricultural Lending Institute and a retired adjunct faculty member in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Fresno State. "We're in a competitive market for talented graduates, and it's in the best interest of the industry to attract and inspire incoming leadership," said Covington.

Founded by agri-business leaders in 1996, AFA works to prepare the next generation of agricultural leaders. The organization provides career development and leadership training for college students across the country who are pursuing careers in agriculture-related fields.

AFA's Student Advisory Team members are juniors and seniors in college majoring in agriculture, food, natural resources or a related field. They are chosen through a highly competitive application process. Participating this year are students from Texas A&M, University of California at Davis, South Dakota State University, Kansas State University, The Ohio State University, University of Missouri, Purdue University and Colorado State University. Students who earn a place on the team are eligible for additional professional training, scholarships and interaction with leaders in the industry. Throughout the summer, the students will meet monthly to plan the national AFA Leaders Conference which they will host November 7-10 in Kansas City, Mo.

"AFA has grown as an organization over the last 16 years, drawing students from 43 states and over 200 colleges across the country," said Russell Weathers, president and CEO. "Although AFA was started primarily in the Midwest, due to this diverse growth we continue to provide opportunities for students to be exposed to different production and technology strategies across the country. We are thankful to Bank of the West for helping to coordinate this experience for our national student leadership team."

About Bank of the West
Founded in 1874, $62 billion-asset Bank of the West (www.bankofthewest.com), member FDIC and equal housing lender, offers a full range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services. The bank operates more than 600 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, which has a presence in 80 countries with nearly 200,000 employees.

About Agriculture Future of America
AFA's mission is to create partnerships that identify, encourage and support outstanding college men and women who are preparing for careers in the agriculture and food industry. With student participation increasing 70 percent in the last five years, AFA leader development programs have impacted 9,000 college leaders and young professionals from more than 200 colleges and universities throughout 43 states since its inception in 1996. AFA has awarded more than $8 million in academic and leader development scholarships. For more information about AFA, visit www.agfuture.org or contact Megan Karlin at megan.karlin@agfuture.org.

SOURCE Bank of the West



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