You can’t be too young or too busy to make a difference as a CALS graduate. Sara Schoenborn BS’10 (dairy science/life sciences communication) is proof of that.
Last year Schoenborn, 27, stepped into a new job as executive director of the Wisconsin FFA Foundation, where her duties include spearheading ambitious fundraising efforts. She’s also served on committees for Cows on the Concourse and Dane County Farm Technology Days.
Yet she still finds time for CALS. Schoenborn is vice president of the board of directors with the Wisconsin Agricultural and Life Sciences Alumni Association (WALSAA), a nonprofit membership organization offering a range of activities for CALS alumni and scholarships and awards for current students and faculty.
And she helped charter a Sigma Alpha Alumni Chapter at UW–Madison, with the goal of helping current members of the sorority for ag professionals through networking, scholarships and loans.
What motivates her, as an alumna, to give so much of her time and energy?
“CALS did more than simply provide me with an excellent education,” she says. “It gave me the chance to meet some of my best friends through student orgs, prepared me for both internships and my postcollegiate career by connecting me to influential members of the industry, and taught me the importance of being involved and continuing to grow as a person and member of the community.”
Schoenborn wants to make sure students continue to have the same opportunities.
“When I ask current students what they hope to acquire from alumni, they almost always say ‘networking,’” she says. “Staying connected to CALS students can be as simple as attending events such as WALSAA Football Fire-Up, offering to give a presentation to a class or even inviting a student org to tour your business.”
Even as a young alumna, Schoenborn contributes regularly to the CALS annual fund.
“It’s often difficult for a new grad to justify a contribution, particularly when repaying student loans—but even small gifts make a difference,” she says. “And it’s important to remember that there are additional ways to give back—through time, energy and support.”