Clemson – Students from the Clemson University Agribusiness Club took first and second place while attending the Annual Southern Agricultural Economics Meeting and Undergraduate Academic Bowl Competition this past February in Jacksonville, Fl.

Members of Clemson's Agribusiness Club took first and second place honors at regionals.

Members of Clemson’s Agribusiness Club took first and second place honors at regionals.

Addie Stone, a sophomore agribusiness major from Dallas, Tx. was part of the team that placed first and Andrew Hall, a sophomore agribusiness major from Columbia, was a member of the team that placed second in the Academic Quiz Bowl team competition.

Thirty-two schools totaling 130 students attended and competed in the event.

Students were separated into groups, allowing them to mix with others studying in a similar academic field, where they then competed with other teams.

Clemson students were coached by English Ratliff, a Plant and Environmental Science PhD student, and Caleb Orr, a Master’s of Science student in Applied Economics and Statistics, prior to the competition.

Eight students from Clemson’s Agribusiness Club attended the event, which also included a conference that featured extensive networking opportunities. In order to be able to travel to the event, students were required to be members of the club in addition to meeting criteria involving GPA and academic year.

Clemson assistant professor of agribusiness Michael Vassalos, who is also the advisor for the club, explained everything that went into setting up a quiz bowl, from the selection process to practicing as a team.

“The members are chosen from the Agribusiness Club to compete in the Academic Bowl based on GPA and academic year,” Vassalos said. “We have a one credit hour class where we meet for 45 minutes every week to practice through different strategies as well as get creating a mock quiz bowl atmosphere with practice rounds and buzzers.”

Although this year’s group of students was the youngest that Clemson has brought to the Annual Southern Academic Bowl Competition, no freshmen are allowed to join the team due to the experience and classes that help students compete at the collegiate level.

“We don’t have freshman on the team because we like to have students who have taken specific classes such as calculus, farm management and some agribusiness class along with a GPA that is at least 3.0 or higher,” Vassalos said.

Valuable networking opportunities at the conference provide students with extra connections that can help them move to the next step in their academic or professional careers.

“We have three students who have graduated in the past two to three years and were offered scholarships to graduate school because people knew them from the quiz bowl,” Vassalos said. “I think that one of them even might become a quiz bowl coach.”

Vassalos said that he was both excited and proud to see his students compete and showcase their knowledge at such a high level.

“If I can paraphrase their words, they’ve never seen me so excited as when they went to the final game. It’s a great experience for them and an even greater representation of our program at Clemson. It’s also great for me to see them compete and succeed.”

While only sophomores and juniors attend the Annual Southern Competition, the Clemson Agribusiness Club sent its juniors and seniors to the National Competition where they placed fifth overall in Chicago (August 2017).