Autumn Jones: POWER of Ag Education
High school junior Autumn Jones will travel from the Bootheel to attend the Missouri State Fair this year for the first time. When she returns to school at East Prairie High School in Agri-Ready Designated Mississippi County this fall, she will serve as the FFA chapter treasurer and plans to help implement Missouri Farmers Care’s Agriculture Education on the Move™ program in her school district. Autumn is proof of the POWER of ag education in Missouri agriculture.
Even though agriculture generates nearly one third of the economic activity of Mississippi County, Autumn is concerned that many younger kids in her rural community don’t know much about agriculture or where their food comes from. Her concern inspired her to research the Agriculture Education on the Move™ (AEOTM) program, a proactive, educational effort of Missouri Farmers Care that brings passionate, trained educators to classrooms to build agricultural literacy at elementary ages. During the ten-week program, students will learn about crops, livestock, soil and water conservation, nutrition, careers in agriculture and more. With the help of her FFA Advisor Mr. Rylan Small, and as a leader of her FFA chapter, Autumn plans to pilot the effort to bring AEOTM lessons to her school. Autumn looks forward to serving as a student educator for kids in her community.
Autumn is adamant about why kids should consider getting involved in FFA. “Agriculture education is not just agriculture, but a larger community full of opportunities. I was not outgoing, but my agriculture teachers have pushed me out of my comfort zone, and they are the reason why I have come so far and am succeeding in FFA. As youth, we need leadership and social skills because they will be useful to us in everything we want to do. I want more kids to not be scared to socialize and be themselves. I think the agriculture education community can help them do that because it is an amazing atmosphere with amazing people in it,” Autumn said.
“I want to help other kids do the things I am getting to do, and I want to help shy kids get into agriculture and learn to branch out. But I am passionate about becoming a large animal vet,” Autumn shared. She is exploring veterinary practice through her Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) project which encompasses her work at a local vet clinic.
Autumn’s enthusiasm for agriculture made her an excellent candidate for the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Agribusiness Academy (MAbA). Her agriculture teachers encouraged her to overcome her fear of applying for the Academy, and her desire to grow beyond her self-imposed limits earned Autumn a seat as one of five to represent her district and one of only thirty Missouri sophomores chosen through a competitive process to become a member of the 2023 Academy. Members of the elite class spent a week during June touring a variety of agribusinesses in the St. Louis area and will reunite during the Missouri State Fair.
Autumn’s curiosity and interests were piqued at every turn during the MAbA summer tour. She loved the variety of tour stops she got to experience. “Everywhere we visited was another possible career opportunity to explore,” Autumn remembers.
This year is full of firsts for Autumn. For the first time she is raising an animal, and her FFA project includes her market goat, Silo. She has been grooming and exercising Silo daily in preparation for their first show during the SEMO Fair later this year.
Autumn is the middle child of Matthew and Jennifer Jones.