Amy Bax ignites the curiosity of Lincoln University agriculture students with new experiences — a similar approach she took to raising her own children.
Bax has been an extension associate at Lincoln University for the past 12 years. She has two main responsibilities in this role: overseeing the university’s small ruminant program and planning outreach events.
His work with the Small Ruminant Program involves education and outreach to sheep and goat farmers statewide, which can include adult farmers to 4-H and FFA students. She is responsible for organizing the annual Lincoln Sheep Shearing School, in which attendees learn the ins and outs of shearing and caring for sheep.
Bax also coordinates campus student tours, state fair outreach, the annual FFA competition that Lincoln hosts each year, and agricultural days, such as regular hemp field days. She helped coordinate a recent visit to the campus of Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture. He toured Lincoln’s agricultural research facilities, met with students and announced a new national initiative at the university.
The job she enjoys most, however, is interacting with students.
Bax sponsors two of the university’s three agricultural student groups, all of which have a community service component. The LU Ag Club tends to organize more social events, she said, while the LU FFA program is more focused on leadership and professional skills.
Bax also participates in the lab classes, but is not an instructor. Her role, she says, makes her a big sister on campus to help connect students to resources.
“I try to do everything I can to make them feel at home in Lincoln,” she said.
A growing number of students interested in agriculture come from more urban areas and don’t always know what to do with an agriculture degree, Bax said, so they often limit themselves to becoming a veterinarian or driving a tractor.
“There’s so much more to farming than that,” Bax said.
“We did different things to show them something that they themselves might be excited about,” she continued. “Agriculture is so many things.”
Bax recently took a busload of college students on a 750-mile tour of agricultural sites in southern Missouri, including a hemp mill in Sikeston and a cotton gin in Caruthersville.
Throughout the four-day trip, she exposed students to opportunities and experiences some had never considered. All came away with new revelations, she said.
One of the stops was at FCS Financial, Missouri’s largest agricultural lender.
“Two of them are very interested in becoming farmers and they don’t want to inherit land from their families, so they saw the opportunities FCS gives them to then maybe have a small piece of land themselves.” , Bax said. “It was a very good step.”
Bax said developing connections with students and fostering independent passions was important to her.
“I hope we do enough that the kids all come up with something like, ‘I didn’t know that was a thing’ or ‘I didn’t know I liked that’,” a- she declared. .
New experiences can also have the opposite effect. Bax said some students were determined to pursue agricultural careers but changed their minds after experiencing it. “These are also good experiences,” Bax said.
The approach Bax takes with students is similar to her own upbringing and the way she raised her own children, who are now young adults.
Bax grew up on a family farm in Chillicothe and participated in FFA in high school. She said her counselors and instructors in high school helped shape who she is as a person.
“I can’t tell you how FFA changed my life,” she said.
Bax has mentored youth most of her life, beginning as an ambassador to help young 4-H children. She also coached her children’s softball, tee-ball and soccer teams and led a Girl Scout troop. She remains a 4-H club leader for Clovers (ages 5-7) and Ambassadors (ages 8-18) despite her two children aging and no longer participating in the program.
Her experiences with FFA and 4-H have taught her life skills, she said, and she appreciates the ability to pass those skills on to her own children and many others.
Bax often traveled with her children and they regularly hung out with her Master Gardener friends and other 4-H kids, she said, and it exposed them to many different experiences.
If his children showed an interest, Bax supported him. They weren’t always what she had in mind, she said, but she backed him up.
“They’re not afraid to try new things, and I just like that,” she said.
“I tried not to say no to anything that was a learning experience,” she added.
The same goes for his approach with the agricultural students at Lincoln. A student wants to be a veterinarian, but Bax said she would also be a great agriculture teacher.
“She could really impact so many people if she was in front of a classroom, but I can’t choose for her,” Bax said. “So if you want to be a vet, okay, how do we get you there?”
Some students are looking for direction and Bax, as a first-generation student herself, said she can understand how difficult the transition to college can be.
“Having an ally and someone to talk to is important to me,” Bax said. “And it makes me feel good that they feel comfortable enough to come see me.”
In the accompanying video, Amy Bax, University of Lincoln Extension Associate, explains why it’s important to provide students with a variety of agricultural experiences.