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Joining the Ag Alumni Society: An Interview with Carrie Bomgardner

Carrie Bomgardner (photo by Steve Williams)SL: Why should alumni join the Ag Alumni Society?

CB: We have a close family here in the college, and joining the Ag Alumni Society allows members to stay connected and tap into that network. Currently, the society, founded in 1967, has 7,337 members. To become a member, you first must join the Penn State Alumni Association, which automatically makes you a member of the Ag Alumni Society. Being a member of the Penn State Alumni Association ups the number of people you can network with to close to 165,000 people. Other benefits of becoming a member include receiving The Penn Stater magazine and the college’s monthly alumni blog and annual newsletter, voting for the society’s board of directors each year, and attending society-sponsored events, such as our tailgate event during the last home football game of the season that raises money for our scholarships.

SL: In addition to fellowship activities for alumni, what else does the Ag Alumni Society do?

CB: Scholarships are a big part of what we do. We have two endowed scholarships, the Ag Alumni Endowed Scholarship, which so far has awarded $260,000 to 317 students, and the Ag Alumni Society Internship Award, which has given $121,250 to 207 students. We also have a new mentoring program. We invite alumni of varying stages in their careers and professional affiliations to meet one-on-one with our undergraduates. This gives the students an opportunity to ask questions about particular careers, get feedback about their résumés and cover letters, and do mock interviews. This program helps prepare students for Career Day, which is when employers come to the college to recruit for positions and internships. Alumni rank mentoring this event as one of the most meaningful engagements they have with the college and the Ag Alumni Society.

SL: What is your day job?

CB: I am a marketing and communications specialist for the Pennsylvania Beef Council. I guess you could say I’m a beef promoter! In fact, in my early years at the Beef Council, I dressed up as a hamburger, named Patty Melt, and visited elementary schools to teach kids about food safety! I have always been interested in agriculture and the promotion of commodities. As a teen, I was a dairy princess tasked with promoting the dairy industry. I grew up on a dairy farm in northeast Pennsylvania that has been in my family since 1841, so I am the sixth generation of my family to be involved in agriculture. My family now produces raw-milk artisan cheeses with markets in New York City, Washington, D.C., and all over Pennsylvania.

SL: Why did you want to be president of the Ag Alumni Society?

CB: I enjoy staying connected to the college and helping other alumni stay connected as well. And I believe in what the society does. In fact, when I was a student here, I received one of the alumni society’s scholarships.

SL: How can alumni become members of the society and how much does it cost?

CB: Ag alumni automatically become members by joining the Penn State Alumni Association. It costs $50 a year, or $600 for a lifetime membership, to join the alumni society. To join, visit agsci.psu.edu/alumni/get-involved/join.

Photo: Steve Williams