Food science student honing leadership, public speaking skills as Ag Advocate

Kelly Jedrzejewski
March 03, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Madalyn Arthur, of Dallas, Pennsylvania, a junior majoring in food science in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, is elevating the image of agriculture and the college as an Ag Advocate.

Arthur has been a member of the Ag Advocates since the spring semester of her freshman year. She said that she had been interested in the club since the Dean’s Welcome, an event which takes place the day before classes start.

“I remember getting to see all the Ag Advocates speak in the Forum Building,” Arthur said. “They were so enthusiastic and passionate about the college. I knew immediately it was a group that I wanted to be a part of. I loved everything that they stood for and how much they cared about creating a welcoming environment.”

Ag Advocates are undergraduate students who are performing well academically and engaged in various organizations across the college and the University. Club members also have opportunities to develop leadership and professional skills and network with industry partners from all sectors of the agricultural sciences.

They also represent the college at many events, including campus tours, virtual prospective student visits, alumni activities, dean’s receptions, open house events, parents and family weekends, and other college functions.

“Maddy is the definition of an advocate for agriculture,” said Marra Baker, director of student recruitment and activities in the college. “Her warm and inviting personality will make anyone she connects with feel welcomed. Maddy is full of knowledge and experience in the college, and that really resonates when she connects with prospective students.”

Arthur loves being an Ag Advocate and noted that the public speaking aspect is one of her favorite things. “I love getting to interact with so many different people — whether it’s prospective students, current students, faculty, alumni or industry professionals,” she said. “People are interested in Penn State, and they are proud of the work students do. Being an Ag Advocate is about letting people know what the College of Agricultural Sciences is about.”

Maddy Arthur

Madalyn Arthur, a junior in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, is shown with fellow food science student Tyler Chandross-Cohen.

IMAGE: Madalyn Arthur

Her interest in food science is another passion. She said her first job — bagging groceries at Wegmans — is what sparked that interest. “It was a super fun job; the part I enjoyed the most was working with food,” she said.

Arthur worked in several departments at Wegmans and said it made her consider culinary school. However, since she also loves science and chemistry, she thought a food science degree would be the perfect fit.

“I love the atmosphere of being at a large school like Penn State, while also being in the tight-knit community that the college and the Department of Food Science offer,” she said. “It’s the perfect blend.”

Arthur added that if she is struggling in a course, she knows she can reach out to the professor. “The food science faculty know me and the other students — what we’re doing, what we’re interested in — and they’re always willing to help,” she said. “I can’t think of a more dedicated and cohesive group. I love that we are like a family.”

She hopes to have a career in fish and shellfish quality assurance and is pursuing a summer internship in Alaska as a quality assurance lab technician for Alaska’s Best Seafood. The company works on the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon run, which is the world’s largest natural wild fishery.

The internship would take place between late May and early August to correspond with the sockeye season. Arthur said the area where she would be working is accessible only by boat or plane and has no cellphone service.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game regulates when the fisheries can harvest because Alaska fishes on sustained yield. Arthur said, “That means they make sure whatever they’re catching this year isn’t going to negatively affect next year’s fish population.”

Fish and shellfish are highly perishable, and Arthur explained that freshness is of the essence when it comes to seafood food safety. The main aspects of quality assurance are making sure that products are cleanly processed and kept at the proper temperature, and that they include a country-of-origin label.

For students interested in learning more about Ag Advocates, Arthur said the club members are happy to answer questions. “We always want to see people who are passionate about the College of Agricultural Sciences and the students here,” she said. “Everyone has their own story about how they came here. And all of those stories are amazing and so beautiful.”

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Last Updated March 03, 2021