If you would have told Kade when he was a freshman, enrolling in his first Introduction to Agriculture class that he would eventually pursue a career within the agriculture industry and even get to spend a year promoting it and speaking with all kinds of people serving as the Illinois FFA State President, he would have most likely called you crazy. Kade’s passion for agriculture and educating people about it is something that is truly commendable. Kade is already doing great things as a Young Person in Ag.
- What is your ag background?
My agriculture background is fairly limited. My mom works in healthcare and my dad owns a small painting business, so I really didn’t grow up around production agriculture at all.
- What were some of your high school experiences/involvement in ag?
I would say I got my start in agriculture when I enrolled in an introduction to agriculture class as a freshman at Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School. Honestly, the main reason I signed up was that two of my good friends were going to take the class and I wanted to take a class with my friends. I had no idea that taking that class would give me such a passion and appreciation for agriculture. As far as one specific experience, it’s hard to nail one down. However, one huge thing I pursued was running to FFA National Office in 2016 and 2017. Even though I was not elected, I think it truly made me learn about myself, my strengths, weaknesses, the National FFA Organization, and agriculture as a whole.
- What college do you attend and what is your major?
I am currently a sophomore at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Agriculture Science Education program.
- What is your involvement at U of I?
Probably the biggest thing I am involved with at the U of I is the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. There I do a lot of different things, but I hold the Recruitment Chair position. I am also involved with the Agriculture Education club, collegiate farm bureau, and a couple other organizations.
- Have you had internships/involvement?
This past summer I interned for WYXY Classic 99.1 as a farm broadcaster intern, and I worked under Gale Cunningham in Champaign, IL at the Illini Radio Group. It was a really great way to get agriculture information from a 1st hand point of view. Anywhere from county fairs, to agriculture expo, to even working in the studio I could talk to all sorts of people and hear their stories. As a non-traditional person in agriculture, it was a great way for me to also learn more about production agriculture.
- What is your dream job?
As of now becoming a high school Agriculture Education Teacher and FFA Advisor within the state of Illinois is the dream job. Right now, I see the best place for me and where I can make the biggest impact is in the classroom.
- Do you have any mentors?
I have always been a strong believer in the saying “It takes a village to raise someone up,” and I truly have had a village who have guided me and helped me in so many aspects of my life. Two big influential people would have Mike White and Doug Anderson, they were my Agriculture Teachers and FFA Advisors. They have invested a lot within me and were always there to advise me when needed, but also to be a supporter as well. If I had to choose someone else, it would have to be my mom. I know that I can go to her for anything, good or bad, and she will in some way help.
- Do you remember anything that has really changed while you have been active in the agriculture industry?
Something that I have paid attention to quite a bit has been food labeling. Whether companies put if it is organic or has Genetically Modified Organisms. As a freshman in high school getting into agriculture for the first time this was a hot topic. There were a lot of people that were advocating either for or against it. And now it has transitioned into something that is still very important, but not as on the forefront as it was at first.
- How do you see the agriculture industry changing in the next 5-10 years?
Agriculture is an ever-evolving industry and we are always trying to find the best ways to do things. Something that I think people have tried to push or advocate for is inclusiveness of people. I have found that inclusiveness is a very broad term, meaning anything from minorities to non-traditional agriculturists, to religion. So, how do we involve all types of people within the industry and make it welcoming and accepting to those who want to play a part? I am interested to see what steps we as an industry take to become more diverse and inclusive.
- Do you have any advice for younger people in agriculture/FFA or thinking about agriculture as a career?
If you’re thinking about trying something, like taking an ag class or competing in a contest, and there is something that is holding you back, just try it. You will never know if you like or dislike something until you have tried it at least once. A lot of things I tried while in FFA were not in my comfort zone, however trying them and finding out that I like them allowed me to broaden my knowledge. Getting out of your comfort zone is difficult, but once you take that leap of faith you will find your passion.
- What do you think sets the agriculture industry apart from other industries?
The best way I could describe it would be the unknown of the industry. There are many people who do not truly understand what all agriculture is about. No, we are not all farmers. We, as an industry, are so broad including, research, communications, education, business, as well as production agriculture. Because many people do not know what all it involved it does set ourselves apart. But in a way that is a good thing too.
Lake Land College