Butler Alumni-Complete the Circle

Butler Alumni: Ryan Bennett

Butler Alumni, Ryan Bennett has never been one to leave potential opportunities unexplored.  For those who know Ryan, you would expect that he might deviate from his “plan of the moment.”  However, in doing so he gathered a wealth of experience.  Ryan is originally from Woodbine, Maryland.  Yes, there is Agriculture in Maryland.  For Ryan, the opportunity to venture out and experience Ag in another part of the country really opened his eyes to the industry.

 Ryan attended Butler Community College and earned a degree in Agriculture. He competed on what he describes as the most successful Livestock Judging Team ever assembled (other teams from other years continue to debate this claim) and was a member of the Butler Ag club.  In Ryan’s words, 

“When I went to school at Butler I came from a culture that consistently turned its back on agriculture. Many told me to major in anything but agriculture. Listening to what I had been told, I attended Butler College only if I could major in Political Science. Even though Chris let me know I could combine my love for agriculture and politics, I did what I was told and started college with hopes of earning a degree in Poli Sci. So, I lived my double life and couldn’t speak highly enough of the professors I had on the other side of campus. I also helped run a fellow classmates campaign for Mayor of El Dorado. Brandon Light received a lot of media attention from the Wichita news stations for running for Mayor as a student of the college.”

 It didn’t take long for Ryan to figure out that Chris (Mullinix) was right! Actually it’s difficult to think of a job, interest area or degree path that can’t be combined with Agriculture.  Ryan would tell you that looking for ways to be involved, even as a student, helped make him successful.

 After graduating from BCC, Ryan attended Kansas State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications.  In addition to his studies Ryan was a successful member of the Policy Debate Team, earning the distinction of being the 4th High Speaker at the National Junior Division Debate Tournament.

 Today, Ryan lives in Maryland and works as the Manager of Public Policy Relations at the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA). To put it in perspective NGFA has over 1,000 members with over 6,000 facilities made up of grain elevators, feed and feed ingredient manufacturers, grain and oilseed processors, livestock and poultry integrators, and others who provide services to the industry. Ryan’s job is to lobby Congress, help in coordinating PAC (Political Action Committee) activities, and head up our grassroots efforts on behalf of these members and industry partners. His grassroots efforts center around getting membership more active in informing and influencing their congressional delegation (i.e. writing letters). 

 If Ryan’s job sounds complicated please understand the he is truly living out his dream of mixing Agriculture and legislative policy making.  As agriculturalists we should be relieved that we have lobbyists working on our behalf in Washington D.C.  In his free time Ryan continues to work on political campaigns-he sees firsthand how important elections are and how decisions at the voting booth can drastically change policy regarding production agriculture. He says,

“As long as groups of people in D.C. continue to show they do not understand the way things are done outside of this place, I will remain here ready to remind them.”

Ryan started his journey towards a career in Agriculture because people around him, family friends, 4-H leaders helped him out.  Today, Ryan has taken what he knows about Kansas Agriculture back home.  He volunteers by coaching his county’s 4-H livestock judging team.  He uses the skills that he learned at BCC to inspire the next generation.  Like many Butler graduates, he has returned home and is working to complete the circle by giving back in his local community.

Butler Livestock Judging team that Ryan Bennett was a member of. Was it the best team ever assembled? The debate rages on!

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