ADM knows the importance of developing the next generation of employees and leaders, and takes a proactive approach to building the workforce.
The global leader in human and animal nutrition and the world’s premier agricultural origination and processing company has supported Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) programs across the nation for years. And in Kansas, ADM is active in sharing valuable lessons about work and careers, overcoming obstacles and pursuing dreams.
Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) is an evidence-based program that helps students prepare for post-secondary education and employment opportunities. JAG-K programs across the state, serving approximately 4,000 students, reported a graduation rate of 97 percent for the Class of 2020.
“We appreciate ADM’s longstanding support of JAG-K,” said JAG-K President and CEO Chuck Knapp. “From serving on our Board of Directors to investing time and money, ADM has been an outstanding partner in this important work.”
To help JAG-K prepare students for success, ADM participated in the recent JAG-K Leadership Development Conference (LDC) held at the University of Kansas. At the event, nearly 400 students participated in workshops, campus tours and training activities, and listened to speakers on a host of topics.
ADM also provided support for the JAG-K students who recently traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in the National Student Leadership Academy. The students, who were elected by their peers to lead the JAG-K student state career association, participated in virtual workshops and seminars designed to equip them for their responsibilities.
In addition to attending workshops, students toured the nation’s capitol, met with members of the Kansas Congressional delegation and staff, and participated in the ceremonial laying of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
“ADM is proud to partner with JAG-K to provide these experiences to JAG members,” said ADM Cares director Jennifer Ballinger. “Developing future leaders and providing them with important skills to achieve success is important to their long-term success and also to ADM’s. Someday, we hope, JAG-K members and LDC participants will consider joining #TeamADM and helping advance our mission to unlock the power of nature to enrich the quality of life.”
Kevin Like, ADM Vice President of Strategic Accounts, serves on the JAG-K Board of Directors. He volunteered to share his personal story in one of the group sessions at the LDC, a speech he entitled “Success through Adversity: My story of perseverance from poverty to corporate leadership.”
An average high school student with little financial support from his family’s struggling farm, Like worked through his teen years to help make ends meet. Without a lot of guidance, he determined to be the first in his family to attend college. He worked part-time jobs and utilized financial aid to graduate from South Dakota State University.
Like began his career as a commodity trader at ADM. He has worked 33 years with the company in a series of diverse management positions. The majority of his tenure at ADM was spent in ADM’s Milling business.
“I felt that it was important to share my story to the JAG-K students as a source of inspiration from someone who overcame adversity and excelled to heights that may have seemed unreachable from where I began,” Like said. “It was important to me that they understand that their life’s direction is not preset based on past circumstances, but is instead waiting for them to seize the moment and set the path to a bright future.”
At the first in-person large gathering of JAG-K participants in more than 19 months, Like was impressed by “the drive, commitment and caliber of the students, program specialists and staff.”
As a result of connections made at the event, Like will hold mock interviews at a JAG-K program at a Kansas City high school in order to help students improve their interviewing skills.
Like said he hopes to continue sharing a message of hope to JAG-K students, a message that resonates with the ADM corporation.
“I want the students to understand what is possible for their lives,” Like said. “Do not be afraid to dream big and take a chance worth taking. Never give up on yourself and your ability to excel from where you are, and to make a better life and a bright future for yourself and those around you.”
JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades 7-12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model.
The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 40 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include ADM, AT&T, Goldstein Charitable Trust, John Deere, the Kansas Health Foundation, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation and Walmart.
To learn more about JAG-K, visit www.jagkansas.org, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.