Stock Show Ag Adventure program prepares students for industry opportunities

CSU Ag Adventure Students at NWSS

Each year, CSU students are provided the opportunity to participate in the University’s Ag Adventure program, leading up to and during the annual National Western Stock Show, held each January in Denver.

Both Animal Science and Agricultural Literacy majors, Ali Stoddard, a senior, and Diane Hanson, a junior, participated in the 2017 program and found immense value personally and professionally through their involvement. They became best friends, grew their professional networks, and gained insight into Colorado’s agriculture industry.

“Working Ag Adventure in many ways was a very eye-opening experience for me,” said Hanson. “Aside from the things that you would assume I got out of it — professional development, working as a team, developing curriculum, and critical thinking — it was also a unique opportunity to come face-to-face with the public and have very real conversations about their thoughts on what was happening, specifically in production agriculture.”

Stoddard and Hanson possess a deeply-rooted passion for agriculture. After graduation, Stoddard hopes to teach agriculture in developing countries and empower women to “farm and better feed their families.”

Hanson intends to incorporate her knowledge into real-life experience with agriculture and help educate the public on agricultural issues, while also keeping an open mind as she advances through her degrees.

CSU Ag Student Diane Hanson head shot
Diane Hanson (junior)

“I’m really passionate about working with livestock, and cattle specifically, but at this point in my college career I am open to see what opportunities my interests might align with post-college,” Hanson said.

The Ag Adventure program enabled Hanson and Stoddard to connect with the Western Dairy Association (WDA). Working with the WDA, they were taken under the wing of an industry mentor who invited them to develop educational materials and curriculum for the Association, an opportunity that continued beyond the 2017 Stock Show.

CSU Ag Student Ali Stoddard head shot
Ali Stoddard (senior)

While many connections were made through the WDA, both students also met numerous industry professionals during the 16-day Stock Show. Interacting with commodity groups enhanced their overall experience, they said, and they encourage future participants to take advantage of the opportunity to broaden their understanding of agriculture in this way.

“Being connected with specific commodity groups allows students to get more out of [the experience],” Stoddard said. “Take advantage of all the opportunities, because there are so many and so many people who want to meet CSU students, who want to hire CSU students.”

Melanie Calderwood, Academic Support Coordinator for the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, agreed.

“The Stock Show Ag Adventure program provides current students with the incredible experience to work alongside industry professionals and answer common questions about agriculture,” Calderwood said. “Students also learn what professionalism is like off-campus and within the industry.”

Stoddard and Hanson shared the same sentiment when asked to share any final thoughts with prospective Ag Adventure participants.

They both replied: “Do it!”

About Ag Adventure
The Ag Adventure program is available to all CSU students and takes place every Fall semester. Students interested in the program can submit inquiries to Melanie Calderwood at or Katie Hartmann at