Growing up on a feedlot in Maui, Hawaii, Alexis Camara knows a thing or two about animals. Her family has raised cattle and hogs for generations, and she’s an active livestock judge, ranking sheep, steers, and other farm animals at stock shows across the country.
Now, the first-year Northeastern Junior College (NJC) student is sharing her knowledge and passion with high school and college students as an Agriculture Future of America (AFA) ambassador.
“I am really honored to be in this role,” said Camara, who went through an extensive selection process. “I think my main leg up was that I was from a smaller junior college. Colorado doesn’t have a big AFA presence, so it’s great to connect more with my community out here.”
NJC may seem like an unusual destination for a native Hawaiian, but Camara’s family had an old connection to the college. Her uncle, an NJC alum, encouraged her to visit campus when she attended the National Western Stock show in Denver two years ago. After meeting with faculty, she knew NJC was the perfect place to launch her agricultural career.
Northeastern Junior College was a good fit for me and a good transition coming from a smaller town, especially getting that one-on-one teacher contact.
An animal science and soil crop science double major, Camara studies everything from agricultural economics to feeding and public speaking. After graduating with her associate degree, she hopes to transfer to a four-year university and eventually move back to Hawaii to improve ranching and farming practices in her home state.
“I want to go into livestock nutrition and genetics, and with that, gain experience, internships, and connections in the industry,” she said. “Hawaii is really limited on resources, so being able to bring back my knowledge and connections back home would be really beneficial.”
Camara said AFA has already helped her meet key players in agriculture. The organization coordinates yearly conferences and roundtable discussion on topics ranging from sustainability, technology, and policy. They also organize “opportunity fairs” to connect students to jobs and work-based learning, through which Camara landed an internship at a Nebraska cattle ranch this summer.
The support she’s received from NJC and AFA inspired Camara to give back as an ambassador, she said. She’s already calling school counselors in Hawaii and Colorado to talk to students about AFA and encourage them to pursue careers in agriculture.
“My main goal is to bring awareness to AFA,” she said. “We’re trying to bring a lot of opportunity to college students and high school seniors so they can get better prepared to go into the industry.”