Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Southern Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting

I am so lucky to have just returned from Atlanta, Georgia where I attended the Southern Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting for the first time. Five other Iowa State students, along with our awesome adviser, Georgeanne, made the trip to network and compete in the undergraduate Agriculture Econ Quiz Bowl.

To be completely honest, before we left, I was a bit nervous since none of my good friends were going along, and I don't have a lot of confidence in my Econ knowledge. By the end of the trip, I'd made several new friends, from Iowa State and around the country.

It may sound silly, but this trip also excited me because it was the first time I'd flown without a parent. I felt so grown up as my teammates and I hustled through check in, security, and boarded all on our own. 

We arrived in Georgia without any issues Saturday night and after a brief meeting and checking into our fancy hotel room, we ventured off to find the famous Mellow Mushroom pizza. My new friend, Becky, was so excited to show us this unique restaurant, and I'm so glad she did. The amazing combination of fresh ingredients really hit the spot! If you're ever in the south and craving pizza, I highly recommend it!

The next morning, it was time to compete. Each team was made up of four students from different schools. Using a buzzer system, two teams at a time answered questions from a Jeopardy style board of categories.

I was paired with three other girls from around the southern part of the United States. My team, the Black Bears came out on top after the first round, but was eliminated later as the competition got tougher. Even though I was disappointed to lose, it freed me up to watch my classmate's rounds. Fortunately, I got to see a fellow Iowa Stater claim 3rd place and win some cash! As the rounds progressed, the intensity grew. 

After a winning student team prevailed, it was time for them to face The Legends, a group of competitive advisers. One of the highlights of the trip was certainly cheering on Georgeanne as she competed! After a round that included many laughs, the students came out on top for what I hear is the third year in a row. 

In between rounds, I enjoyed getting to know a few students from Missouri's chapter. While we were waiting for the next event we enjoyed several hands of cards, an adventure wandering through Atlanta area and even a spontaneous trip to Waffle House! Our entire group was invited to an exclusive Super Bowl party at Hard Rock Cafe, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We couldn't seem to take a good picture together, but we sure had lots of fun.

When we weren't hanging out with our new friends, we were taking advantage of the Graduate School Fair, attending the business meeting and dinner, or looking over poster projects completed by graduate students. We heard a great speech by the newly elected president (which I'll save for another blog post) and were treated to an excellent southern dinner. All these things opened my eyes to a new level of the academic world and learning opportunities. It was awesome to see some of the work professors are doing when they aren't teaching, and thinking about alternate career paths was pretty interesting.

All in all, I am so thankful for the chance to travel to the south, take in some warmer weather, and broaden my horizons. Thanks for reading!

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