MACOMB, IL – Three Western Illinois University School of Agriculture students won awards in the National Postsecondary Agricultural Student (PAS) Organization Conference March 14 in St. Charles, MO. 

Kylee Johnston, a junior agriculture major from Memphis, MO, won first place in the Career Progress Horticulture, Environmental and Natural Resource System category; Brandon Livingston, a freshman agriculture major from Marietta, IL, won first place in the Career Planning, Horticulture, Environmental and Natural Resource category; and Martin Nall, a senior agriculture major from Camp Point, IL, won second place in agriculture education. 

“These three students worked very hard to qualify for this event,” said School of Agriculture Director Andy Baker. “Each student had to place first at the state event to qualify for the national competition. The results of this competition just reflect the quality of our students and their work ethic to be the best in their field. We work really hard as a department to provide opportunities like this event so our students can showcase their skill sets. The School of Agriculture’s slogan is ‘Cultivating Agricultural Leaders,’ which reflects in the positive results of this competition.”

Johnston competed in the Career Planning division in 2016, and moved up to the second level this year in Career progress, which she said was a simulated job interview. She was required to answer questions related to her specific field and about her application and essay. 

“To compete, you must show progress toward meeting your career goals in the nine-page application, and you must submit a resume and transcript,” said Johnston. “At the competition, you are given a one-hour block to write an essay about how interest rates may affect your business goals. I was happy to be competing at the second level this year and to be able to finish first at both the Illinois and national competitions.”

For Livingston’s entry, he interviewed four people within the horticulture industry and developed career goals for himself based on the advice he received. 

“Placing first in the nation in Career Planning Horticulture, Environmental and Natural Resource systems is a huge honor,” said Livingston. “It goes to show how preparation, determination and good interview etiquette can help in real life applications. These are all things I am improving upon at Western Illinois University.”

For Nall’s competition, he presented a lesson and a lesson plan and was judged on both areas. 

“It was an amazing experience getting to represent WIU on the national level,” said Nall. “I was excited to be able to showcase what I have learned at WIU. One of my favorite parts of the conference is getting to meet students from all across the nation.”

The membership of PAS totals 1,400 people from 62 chapters in 18 states. It is available to students in agriculture/agribusiness/natural resources postsecondary programs in approximately 550 institutions in all 50 states. 

For more information about the WIU PAS chapter, contact Baker at (309) 298-1246 or AJ-Baker@wiu.edu.