by MARY CATHERINE GASTON
If you’ve ever wondered what’s become of some of the outstanding College of Ag students we’ve written about in the past, today is your lucky day. That’s because we’re going to catch up with two young alumni we introduced you to back in 2014, when both were seniors looking forward to graduation. Anna Leigh Peek and Blake Poole both graced the Auburn University home page the year they graduated, but here’s what they’ve been up to since.
From campaign trails to cattle farms
When Blake Poole graduated with a degree in interdisciplinary studies/agricultural leadership, his future was uncertain. Just before he received his diploma, the Buchanan, Georgia, native and Auburn football letterman had turned pro football scouts’ heads at Pro Day in May 2014. For a little while, it looked like a professional sports career might be on his horizon. But when it was time to decide the best route for his future, he chose to pursue another passion—politics—and accepted a position on Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black’s re-election campaign staff.
After the ballots were cast and his candidate had won, Poole moved on to his current job as director of association services with the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association. In this role, he promotes association membership statewide, assists with local chapter meetings and works to increase youth involvement in the organization.
“I enjoy all the people I meet and come across,” Poole says. “I love when I can help someone find cows for a start-up herd and getting folks involved in our organization.”
Back home in the South
Elkmont, Alabama, native Anna Leigh Peek entertained several job offers before finishing her degree in agricultural communications, but the one she accepted landed her at Monsanto world headquarters in St. Louis. She spent a year and a half as a consumer engagement specialist for the agrochemical and biotechnology giant, working to find ways to connect consumers with their food.
In November of 2015, Peek took the next step professionally and joined the staff of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, also known as USPOULTRY, in Atlanta. Just as her exceptional networking skills had helped her secure her first post-graduation gig, they came in handy when she was ready to head south as well.
“I had networked with two of the senior staff members during college, which I am sure helped me get this position,” Peek says.
Now every day is something different, she says, which keeps her work exciting and enjoyable. As communications specialist for USPOULTRY, she edits and distributes a daily newsletter featuring market reports and industry news, manages social media content and strategy, writes press releases, fields media inquiries and takes photos—all of which she feels well prepared for by her Auburn experience.
Do you have an interesting update on a young College of Ag alumnus? We’d love to know it and share it! Email the story or story idea to firstname.lastname@example.org.