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Student Attends USDA's Agricultural Outlook Forum

Thursday, Mar. 06, 2014

USU student Skylar Christensen attended a national conference

Skylar Christensen, a senior majoring in agricultural communications and journalism, recently attended the USDA's Agricultural Outlook Forum.

Skylar Christensen, a senior studying agricultural communications and journalism at Utah State University, recently returned from Arlington, Va., where he had the opportunity to attend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2014 Agricultural Outlook Forum.

While there, Christensen and 29 other college students attended presentations concerning today’s agricultural challenges. They heard from a variety of speakers, including chairman of the World Agricultural Outlook Board Gerald Bange, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden. 

Christensen said that it was Harden who he enjoyed hearing from the most.

“We were really able to interact and ask her questions because it was such a small group of us,” he said. “She told us about her career path, and how she didn’t want anything to do with agriculture at first. We also discussed the challenges facing farmers, especially young farmers, today.”

Students also toured several USDA facilities such as the USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the Plant Materials Center in Beltsville, Maryland.

“This experience was definitely an eye-opener,” Christensen said. “I’m going to be more aware and have a better understanding of the current issues and consumer trends that affect agriculture. As an ag communicator, this is crucial.”

Christensen was chosen to participate in the forum based on his essay addressing the prompt, “agriculture as a career,” which was featured on the USDA’s website and in the forum’s program.

“I was very surprised, and flattered, to notice that the USDA quoted a section of my essay on the first page of the program,” he said. “This is the program they gave to everyone in attendance. It was a great honor.”

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Writer: Allie Jeppson Jurkatis, 435-797-7406,

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