Ag Voices of the Future Program Offers Students an Education on Ag Policy

Jul 16, 2018

Front row, Left to Right: Camryn Clift, Mary Kate Morgan, Sarah Lehner and Nathalie Yoder Back row, Left to Right: Caleb Swears, Shelby Riggs, Abigail George, Erin Chalupa, Courtney Heiser and Cameron Walls.

A select group of 10 college students from nine different states completed the Ag Voices of the Future program this week in Washington, D.C. The program is sponsored by Valent U.S.A. and the American Soybean Association (ASA) and gives the students an inside look at how agricultural policies are made in Washington. The students received an education on effective advocacy and the significant legislative, trade and regulatory issues that impact farmers. The program also gave students the chance to visit with others who work in Washington to learn more about careers related to agriculture policy. The class was held July 9-12, 2018, in conjunction with the ASA Board Meeting and Soy Issues Forum.

An application process for the Ag Voices of the Future program was initiated earlier this spring. The following students were selected for this year’s class.

  • Erin Chalupa, Iowa
  • Camryn Clift, Kentucky
  • Abigail George, Wisconsin
  • Courtney Heiser, Ohio
  • Sarah Lehner, Ohio
  • Miriam (Mary Kate) Morgan, North Carolina
  • Shelby Riggs, South Dakota
  • Benjamin (Caleb) Swears, Arkansas
  • Cameron Walls, Illinois
  • Nathalie Yoder, Florida

“Building student interest in agricultural policy is an imperative for our industry, and a top priority for Valent,” said Matt Plitt, Valent U.S.A.’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We’re proud to partner with ASA to provide our young people with a meaningful learning experience that will help them shape the future of agriculture.”

The three day program was packed with educational meetings and valuable networking opportunities. The students visited with staff from USDA and EPA who have a direct impact on agricultural regulations; they participated in Hill visits with their state soybean associations; and they met with a senior staff member for the Senate Ag Committee and leaders from other national organizations, including CropLife America and the Agricultural Retailers Association.

“It’s important that young people have an understanding of the policy issues that directly impact the productivity and economic well-being of our farms and the soybean industry,” said ASA President John Heisdorffer, from Keota, Iowa. “ASA appreciates Valent’s support of this valuable program that develops future voices for the agriculture industry in Washington.”

In the evenings, the students enjoyed a guided tour of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, as well as a tour of the U.S. Capitol led by Congressman Rodney Davis from Illinois.

For more information on the Ag Voices of the Future program, visit the “Learn” section of the ASA website at