Thirty high school sophomores were recently selected to participate in the Missouri Department of Agriculture's Missouri Agribusiness Academy — two are students from Phelps County.

Caitlyn Kleffner of Rolla, and Trey Riley of St. James will spend the first week of June in the Springfield region exploring various segments of Missouri agriculture. Only five students from each region were selected to attend the 2019 Missouri Agribusiness Academy, which is determined by the county of their high school’s location.

Both Kleffner and Riley were among the top ten applicants in the South Central Region who moved onto the semi-finals and were invited to an in-person interview. The five applicants with the highest combined written and interview scores from each region were then selected to participate in the Missouri Agribusiness Academy.

“The most valuable thing we can do to develop the next generation of agriculture’s workforce is to share with them the wide variety of careers that may interest them,” said Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn. “These young men and women have proven themselves to be some of the highest achieving students in agriculture. It is our hope that MAbA (the Missouri Agribusiness Academy) will further develop their leadership skills and introduce them to their future in agriculture.”

Since 1988, the Missouri Agribusiness Academy has awarded more than 930 students through a competitive application and interview process. The 2019 Missouri Agribusiness Academy marks the program’s 32nd year of promoting careers in agriculture to high school sophomores. To be eligible for the Missouri Agribusiness Academy, students must come from a farming family or be an active member of the National FFA Organization or 4-H.

The 2019 Missouri Agribusiness Academy class will convene at the Missouri Department of Agriculture on June 3. After a Department overview and tour, the students will travel to Springfield for the week. During the 2019 Missouri Agribusiness Academy, the students will visit agriculture businesses, meet with agricultural leaders and learn about career opportunities in agribusiness, animal health, farming, ranching and more.