Lisa Smith, a senior agricultural business major, didn’t stray from what she knew when choosing her field of study.
Her original intention was to attend Northern State University to study elementary education, but when she came to South Dakota State for the annual State FFA convention, she knew she wanted to stay in agriculture.
“Through my FFA involvement, I knew that I couldn’t take myself away from agriculture,” she said. “After being on campus, I was like this is where I am going.”
Smith grew up on a farm near Kimball, where the family farm has been passed from one generation to the next. She continues the family’s passion for agriculture with the hope of making an impact on the industry, something she felt she couldn’t do with elementary education.
“When you look at the entire United States, people don’t realize the importance of agriculture and what comes on their plate. I felt like I could make a bigger impact in agriculture than education. I am sticking with what I grew up with; it’s in my blood and it won’t go away,” she said.
Throughout her time at SDSU, Smith has been very involved. For the majority of her college career, she was an officer for the Society of Finance, Insurance and Real Estate, also known as the FIRE Club. She also played clarinet for The Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band for three years.
Smith is treasurer for Little International, in the Economics Club and the National Agriculture Marketing Association, also known as NAMA.
“It’s [NAMA] like a college-style ‘Shark Tank’,” Smith said.
At last year’s national convention in Texas, SDSU’s chapter of NAMA created an edible, nutritional net wrap for hay bales as an alternative to bailer twine. While the product was very theoretical, Smith said she enjoyed the challenge. Experiences such as these and the connections she has developed have prepared her for the future.
“That’s something you can’t get from a textbook,” she said.
Smith is set to graduate in May. After her time at SDSU, she hopes to be an accountant for a cooperative in the Midwest. She also likes the idea of someday returning to the family farm. Her piece of advice to those who are looking to enroll at SDSU—get out of your comfort zone.
“Don’t be afraid to try new things. With ag business, I have been involved in a lot of things that didn’t involve agriculture, but it was my way of advocating for it.”