Advisor Michael Vassalos (left) with the winning Clemson Agribusiness team

Advisor Michael Vassalos (left) with the winning Clemson Agribusiness team.

Louisville, KY – Agribusiness students of the Clemson Agribusiness Association gave a strong performance at this year’s Southern Agricultural Economics Association (SAEA) academic bowl, held February 1-4 at the organization’s annual meeting. One student, Addie Stone, brought home the first-place prize for the Clemson association after competing in the winning team.

The program disperses a school’s representatives among random teams to compete individually for their school, so Clemson’s students had to be well equipped to answer questions on their own.

The eight students who represented Clemson at the academic bowl were: KC Barry, Jena Hanna, Carter Jay, Jeremy Levinson, Robert Pope, Emily Wilson, Liza Wilson, and Addie Stone. Stone was this year’s team coach.

In reward for their victory, each first-place student received a $200 prize from the Southern Agricultural Economics Association.

SAEA brings together industry leaders, professionals, and academics to promote the education of agricultural economics and its applications to problems in the Southern United States. Its annual meetings host sessions related to the Teaching, Research, and Extension challenges of agribusiness.

Michael Vassalos, an associate professor of Agribusiness at Clemson and the advisor to the Clemson Agribusiness Association, spearheaded the Clemson team’s preparations for the academic bowl, assembling the team twice a month for simulated games. As game day approached, the team began practicing for three hours a week, making personal commitments to study outside of group practice.

“The fact that this team has managed to be in the top three in the Southern [competition] almost every year for the last five years… it’s a great recruitment tool, a great advertisement for our program,” Vassalos said.

Team coach Addie Stone, a senior Agribusiness student with a minor in Spanish, said it was exciting for her team to blow out competition this year. Clemson went up against stiff competition like the legends team, made up entirely of professionals in the field.

“As the past president, this victory was important to me because it showed me that the club has progressed very well from where I left it when I finished my term,” Stone said. “I think it shows the strength of the Agribusiness Association and prominence of our major.”

The Clemson team has placed second once and fourth twice at the Agricultural and Applied Economics annual meeting’s academic bowl, but it has never placed first in its national bowl. Vassalos said this was next on the Clemson team’s agenda.

Having finished her term as president of the Agribusiness Association, Stone commented on what it would take for the academic team to achieve this goal:

“Winning the national competition would take a combination of students with strong and broad agricultural knowledge, frequent practice, dedicated review outside of practice, and confidence. It’s one thing to know the material, but another to be confident enough in your knowledge to answer the questions when it really matters. I think a winning team will come as long as we continue the positive progress we have made over the past few years.”

Despite the stress of competition, Vassalos encouraged students to join the Clemson association for its networking opportunities at the academic bowls.

“It’s a smaller group where they can meet students from the same program, and that can give them some feedback on what’s going on in the program… and students can see what other schools are doing,” he said.