By UNIVERSITY RELATIONS
Four years ago, Sathena Scarborough climbed on board the Fort Hays State University Admissions’ Nebraska bus trip, beginning a journey that would help her step outside her comfort zone and find her college home in Hays.
This spring, her work with the Ellis and Trego County Farm Bureaus earned them the state New Horizon Education Award. Scarborough will cross the commencement stage this week, graduating with dual degrees in animal science and agriculture business. Following graduation, she will immediately start her new career as a grain merchandising trainee with Gavilon.
“I first came for the affordable tuition,” Scarborough said. “On my first visit, they drove me out to the university farm, and we talked about my future plans. I could tell the faculty cared and were going to help me achieve my goals.”
A self-described reserved and quiet person, Scarborough grew up on a farm in central Nebraska, participating in 4-H and FFA. Although she always had a passion for agriculture, she never imagined that she would come to FHSU and grow to be an advocate for agriculture and education.
Scarborough got involved on campus as soon as she arrived, joining the Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter and Sigma Alpha, a professional agriculture sorority. She credits both organizations with providing opportunities for her to grow professionally and academically while building lifelong friendships and network connections.
Focused on sharing agriculture with students, Scarborough began working with Stephanie Eckroat, KFB County Coordinator, to help prepare and deliver Ag in the Classroom lesson plans and activities. Agriculture in the Classroom is a nationwide program sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation to improve agricultural literacy among PreK-12 teachers and their students.
“Students today are often three to four generations removed from farming, and they don’t necessarily know where milk comes from or how the food they eat ends up on their plate,” Scarborough said. “It’s hard to come up with different ways to connect with students and share about farming – something I’m passionate about.”
Eckroat, Scarborough, and other CFB volunteers prepare age-appropriate lesson plans for educators and after-school programs in Ellis and Trego counties. Before the pandemic, they visited classrooms to help educators complete an agriculture-centric educational activity and to share a nutritious snack.
When COVID-19 forced the move to online education in Kansas, the team quickly pivoted from providing on-site classroom instruction to producing virtual farm and agriculture tour videos reaching more than 25,000 viewers.
“I never thought this was something I would do, but it’s a great opportunity,” Scarborough said. “It’s hard to come up with new ways to connect, but I’ve learned patience, creativity, and an ability to problem-solve that will stay with me as a merchandiser.”
Scarborough has accepted a position as a grain merchandising trainee, a role she learned about through an FHSU Career Fair and interviewed for online during the COVID-19 pandemic. While there are many concerns about the future of the economy, there is still high demand for skilled agriculture business graduates like Scarborough.
“As students, we’ve had a lot of challenges thrown at us over the last year, but we’ve learned to roll with them and still achieve our goals,” Scarborough stated. “We’ve learned how to be more flexible and adapt to provide the same opportunities we would in a normal year such as the career fair. We’ve had incredible guest speakers, continued to build relationships, and it’s rewarding to see our student organizations grow and thrive.”
Scarborough will begin her grain merchandising career in Wichita and is excited about the challenge. No matter where she goes, Scarborough is confident she will have the support of her faculty and peer network and will remain involved in advocating for agriculture by utilizing the skills she learned and utilized at FHSU.