College of Agriculture

FAS Agricultural Export Market Challenge

Announced on: Monday, Mar. 21, 2022

The team smiling at cameraThrough a new student contest hosted by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), students from Chico State’s College of Agriculture received “top team” for the 2022 FAS Agricultural Export Market Challenge. Kurt Sheppard, Zion Brigham and Erin Harley were named regional and national champions of the contest during a virtual announcement on Friday, March 4. The team competed against 13 other schools from across the nation. Professors Tatevik Avetisyan and Mina Hejazi advised the students throughout the competition.

“Our students demonstrated outstanding commitment to the challenge over the course of three weeks. They conducted extensive research and networked and attended sessions with FAS experts to learn more about the databases, programs and support offered to U.S. agribusinesses,” Avetisyan said.

The Agricultural Export Market Challenge uses a case study method and role play to examine the export opportunities for United States food and agricultural products. Students conducted research and outreach to experts to solve real world trade challenges, developing extensive knowledge across economics, diplomacy, scientific analysis, marketing and trade policy.

The case study was based on a fictitious product called “Clean Burp.” This product was derived from a specific variety of red algae and developed to feed cattle to reduce methane emissions. The task was to strategize the best foreign market to implement this product into the economy.

“By competing in this program and making connections with FAS employees, a whole new set of opportunities have opened up to me, and I have gained a greater understanding of the hard work that the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service does for our industry,” Sheppard said.

Student smiling at camera

The students pushed through several late nights preparing for the competition, which took place virtually March 3–4. The FAS administrators and judges were impressed by the quality of work and commitment presented by the students, with one judge saying, “After deliberating and considering all the universities who presented today, we decided that Chico State rose to the top, on average, considering the criteria of understanding and research, export strategy and team communication.”

Brigham expressed sincere gratitude for the teammates, advisors and FAS mentors who helped the team create a winning presentation.

“The competition itself opened up my eyes to the great career opportunities that the FAS offers, and personally, it has changed my career plan for the better,” Brigham said.