“I wish I had gotten involved in NAMA sooner,” says Katie Smith, 2021 Department of Agriculture graduate. This sentiment is shared by many students that decide to join the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) Registered Student Organization (RSO) in the Department of Agriculture at Illinois State University. This group meets weekly, from August, all the way to the marketing competition, held in April. After working all last year and having a trip to the marketing competition in San Diego canceled, student members at Illinois State were more than ready to get back to work and be as competitive as possible.

The National Agri-Marketing Association is a wide-ranging agricultural marketing group based in Overland Park, Kansas. The student division of NAMA is composed of over thirty student chapters with over 1,300 student members from leading universities in the United States and Canada. Through industry partnerships, the Student Marketing Competition is often sponsored and held in Kansas City, Missouri, or another large city in the United States. Like most events of the past year, the Student Marketing Competition was held online. This was no barrier to the Illinois State University team, as they had been holding their weekly meetings over Zoom the entire year. To make this happen, President Michelle Cooney worked diligently to organize and lead the team to success. She said, “Our team had to overcome many challenges this past year with meeting and presenting online over Zoom. They have shown resilience and dedication.”

This year, the Redbird Marketing Team (Michelle Cooney, Katie Smith, Joseph Jangulo, and Isaac Brockman) chose to present a marketing plan for a fictional product that was based on current research being done at the Illinois State University Farm. Their product, “TerrACRE$$”, was a pennycress hybrid. This crop was marketed similar to pennycress, in that it is a double-crop cover crop. This means that beyond providing the benefits of a traditional cover crop, it can also be harvested at a profit in May, just in time for traditional soybean planting. The team was required to submit a product proposal, in addition to an executive summary. The executive summary included many elements of a real marketing presentation, such as SWOT analysis, promotion, benefit to the producer, financial analysis, and much more. Finally, in late April, the Redbird Marketing Team began competition in the preliminary round against twenty-three other student chapters from universities in the United States and Canada. Based on the executive summary and twenty-minute live presentation, the Illinois State University team was chosen to advance to the top twelve, which included many strong competitors from recent years. In the semifinals, the team presented extremely well but was edged out by teams that finished with top scores in the competition. Overall, the team was happy with their performance and proud of the work they put in and the knowledge they gained.

In addition to the Student Marketing Competition, the National Agri-Marketing Association also hosted their second-ever Student Sales Competition. Through partnerships with AgReliant Genetics and GROWMARK, NAMA was able to create the first nationwide agricultural sales competition for students. This year, Illinois State University was represented by Isaac Brockman, a junior Agribusiness major. In the first round, Isaac competed against over twenty students from the United States and Canada. He conducted a successful sale in a ten-minute mock scenario concerning LG Seeds over Zoom. Isaac then advanced to the final round, where he had similar objectives, but for FS fuel products. At the conclusion of the competition, it was announced that Isaac Brockman had placed first overall in the Student Sales Competition.

“I am so proud of our NAMA team,” said Dr. Aslihan Spaulding, one of the advisors of the marketing competition team. “They worked diligently for nine months to prepare for the competition. They did research about the product and market trends, conducted competitive and financial analyses, wrote a five-page marketing plan, and presented it to judges who are professional members of NAMA. Advancing to the semi-finals is quite an accomplishment. They represented ISU very well.”

The Illinois State University NAMA team has continued to build professional skills and will return next year for a whole new product, research, and marketing presentation. ISU NAMA welcomes any ISU student to join the organization, regardless of their major.  You may follow them on Facebook.

Recordings of the Student Marketing Competition and Student Sales Competition can be found on the nama.org website under “Students.”

The Redbird Marketing Team

Isaac Brockman
Katie Smith
Joseph Jangulo
Michelle Cooney