Julie Ustach is determined to make a positive impact on the world, and the Utah State University senior agricultural education major, is off to a good start. From work experiences to leadership and volunteer opportunities, Ustach pursues experiences that prepare her to pursue a career in agriculture and food and was recently selected as an Agriculture Future of America Ambassador.
AFA is a leadership and professional development organization for college students and young professionals. Providing leader development, intern support and scholarships, AFA seeks to be a catalyst to prepare new generations of agriculture leaders. Ustach, who is from Rio Rancho, New Mexico, and her fellow team members will interact with agribusiness leaders, campus faculty and fellow students as they represent AFA during their year of service.
“I value AFA leader development programs because they have helped me realize who I can become," Usatch said. "Being the youngest child in my family, I was always a follower. With these programs, I have found that my family has trained me well for leadership, but there is still so much to grow and learn about.”
“I'm very happy for Julie and I think she is well-deserving of this opportunity," said Tyson Sorensen, assistant professor of agriculture teacher education at USU. “She is never afraid to try new things and seek out learning that may be outside the traditional norm of her peers. Her applying and being selected as an Agriculture Future of America Ambassador is a perfect example of this fearless attitude.”
Ustach and the other 24 Ambassadors were selected through a competitive application process to increase awareness of AFA programs on their campuses and in their regions. Ustach says she looks forward to her upcoming experiences.
“Excited only begins to describe my feelings toward serving as an AFA student leader,” she said. “With this opportunity, I can't wait to share this excitement and joy with other students, to share the skills and knowledge I have gained with others and to help connect people to their dreams in agriculture.”
Ambassadors will also interact with industry professionals at various events and meetings on behalf of AFA, and Ustach looks forward to sharing those experiences with other students.
“AFA has helped me break out of my shell,” Ustach said. “Through the annual AFA Leaders Conference, I have made contacts all across the country, gained support for my dream career, and acquired amazing mentors. My relationship with AFA is priceless.”
Ustach's entrance into the AFA leader development programs began in 2018 when she was selected to attend an AFA Leaders Conference. In addition to her involvement with AFA, she has also been active in other organizations including the Logan Institute of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FFA and USU's Plant Science Club.
Becki Lawver, acting head of USU's School of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education, said Ustach has been a wonderful student in the agricultural education program.
“She really takes pride in her learning and isn't afraid to ask the hard questions in class to get people, including her teachers, to think deeper about the content,” Lawver said. “I am truly excited about this opportunity for Julie and the opportunity for her to connect with students, faculty and industry partners.”