Zach Jacobs, a Virginia Tech senior from Swoope, Virginia, studying agribusiness with a minor in national security and foreign affairs, will travel to Kansas City, Missouri, later this week for the 119 American Royal, a weeklong event devoted to agricultural advocacy.

In Kansas City, Jacobs will participate in advocacy discussions, school tours, youth rodeos, and other events designed to educate youth about agriculture.

“I want to have a role in inspiring future agriculturalists and also helping to educate the consumer public on what’s happening within our industry,” said Jacobs.

And he sees this as an opportunity to do just that.

Jacobs was selected as one of 12 students from around the country to participate in the event and receive a $2,500 academic scholarship. Recognized for his dedication to agricultural advocacy and record of involvement with both Future Farmers of America and Agriculture Future of America, Jacobs envisions a career in agricultural advocacy.

He also believes that this group of students, along with others he partners with through FFA, AFA, and the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, have the ability to be “change makers” within the industry.

Jacobs did not grow up on a farm but became involved in FFA as a high school student and quickly fell in love with agriculture. And for the past eight years, he has pursued opportunities to learn about various facets of the industry, including working at the Virginia Tech sheep center and participating in a BASF professional development program where he was involved in plot research and sales.

He has also used his background to educate youth from similar non-farm backgrounds, something he will do again as an American Royal scholar in Kansas City. Jacobs hopes to educate students about the role agriculture plays in society and the diversity of roles within the industry.

“There’s always an opportunity to branch out within the industry, but also an opportunity to specialize, whether you are a scientist, or a producer, or advocating on Capitol Hill,” Jacobs said. “And no matter what you choose, there’s always a connection to agriculture and to other people within the industry – that’s what makes me excited. It feels like you’re part of one big family trying to make the world a better place.”

While in Kansas City, and always, Jacobs hopes to impart knowledge that will change how people view and relate to agriculture.

“Agriculture is the backbone of society, and it continues to propel us forward through new technologies,” Jacobs said. “It’s important to take care of farmers so they can provide for their families and continue feeding the population.”