Student Stories: Food Science majors attend AFA Food Institute in Chicago

Where in the world can you network with professional leaders in the food industry, visit the headquarters of numerous food-manufacturing plants and learn how to make a McDonald's Big Mac?

That place would be the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Food Institute in Chicago.

Monica Caparosa and Anh Tran, both Food Science majors in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, were among 75 students across the country who had the privilege to attend the three-day program, held in February.

Sponsored by the AFA, the conference invites students to interact with food-sector leaders and visit area processors, businesses and related service providers. These experiences include discussion and training to enhance student preparation to enter careers in the agriculture and food industry.

"They chose Chicago because it's such a food hub," explained Caparosa, a sophomore from Butler, Pennsylvania. "I was able to visit big-name food-manufacturing facilities, such as the Orville-Redenbacher popcorn plant, the Kellogg's snack plant and the Buddig meat facility."

Caparosa referred to the part of the conference during which the students were split into groups to tour different food industries in the city. These tours played a significant role in helping Caparosa hone her career ambitions.

"Even though visiting all three factories was fascinating, I definitely could see myself in one setting as opposed to another," she said. "I don't really see myself working in the meat sector, but our trip to Kellogg's made me think I could go into the confections sector, especially since I've always enjoyed baking."

Tran, a junior from Vietnam, was placed on a different industry tour.

"My group visited Ferrara Candy Co., Ingredion and a Cargill plant that supplies meat to McDonald's," she said. "At a McDonald's restaurant, we were able to speak with the manager and even had the opportunity to make a Big Mac!"

Students at the conference also heard food industry professionals speak about different facets of the industry, such as regulation, global food trends and advice on how to present like a food professional.

"It was eye-opening to listen to these professionals talk about their experiences, as well as a company's culture and what they expect from employees," said Tran. "They put emphasis on finding your passion, which truly inspired me. Now, I'll start thinking more about what I would like to do."

Learn about the Food Science major.

 

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Last Updated November 04, 2014