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Get to know the Grassroots Fellowship

farmer in plaid shirt looking up
By Samantha Turner

The powerhouse leadership cohort receives a refresh and rebrand for farmer-leaders.

The IA-MO Grassroots Fellowship is a collaborative, one-year experience for young soybean farmers from Iowa and Missouri who possess a desire to learn more about the soybean industry and how weather, government action and global economics play a critical role in the price received at a grain elevator, all while improving their core leadership skills.

Previously under a different name, the Grassroots Fellowship rebranded the cohort to emphasize a more robust, inclusive opportunity for next-generation leaders in the Midwest.

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The Missouri Soybean Association (MSA) is a farmer-led organization with strong grassroots support, and we’re proud of that foundation. Investing in the next generation of agricultural and industry leaders is key to serving Missouri’s soybean farmers.
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Renee Fordyce
MSA president

“Our impact grows as we work together, and this is a great step forward for ensuring soybeans are front and center in Missouri and the Midwest well into the future.”

The Grassroots Fellowship will give participants a deep understanding of the policies, laws and regulations that affect agriculture, the soybean industry and rural America. Weaving travel and social interaction into the program curriculum, participants will become aware of the role they can play in supporting the soybean industry, farmers and the rural way of life.

During the program, members travel anywhere from Jefferson City to Washington, D.C., and major farm shows in between. Major events include a kickoff orientation, MSA Annual Meeting, export terminal tours and Commodity Classic.

“After I completed my Agricultural Leadership of Tomorrow (ALOT) experience, I was looking for something that would give me insight into the legislative process,” said Roth McElvain, a current participant of the Grassroots Fellowship. “I met all my respective legislators but hadn’t learned how to talk to them about important issues effectively. I always heard great things about the Missouri Soybean Association and its ability to advocate for Missouri farmers, and I wanted to experience it for myself.”

With constant communication from soybean staff, members are equipped with educational resources at their fingertips to enact real change at the grassroots and national levels.

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Building the next generation of agricultural leaders is one of the core purposes of the program. These soybean growers turned advocates are our future commodity board members, elected officials and industry spokespeople.
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Baylee Asbury
Missouri Soybeans director of outreach and education

Grassroots Fellowship targets talented young men and women who are involved in production agriculture and have a vast interest in finding their niche to growing demand for soy off the farm. Participants must be in good membership standing, and one member is selected from one of each of the seven grower districts in Missouri.

“This program is a fun and impactful way to meet people from around the state,” said Terrance LePage, a Grassroots Fellowship member from the second class. “It’s important to understand the decisions that are made every day that affect our livelihood as farmers and agriculturalists, and as part of the Grassroots Fellowship, I got to be a part of those discussions. I encourage anybody in the agricultural industry to join the program.”

This year’s participants include:

• Ethan Fordyce | District 1, Bethany, Mo.
• Brooke Zell | District 2, Meadville, Mo.
• Reed Plunkett | District 3, Philadelphia, Mo.
• Roth McElvain | District 3, Palmyra, Mo.
• Chance Kurzweil | District 4, Harrisonville, Mo.
• Klinton Holliday | District 5, Prairie Home, Mo.
• Jane Zuroweste | District 6, Truxton, Mo.

Interested in participating in the 2024-2025 MSA Grassroots Fellowship? Reach out to Baylee Asbury for more information or assistance or check out for applications in June.

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