July 16, 2010
Finishing second at the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) student case competition were (from left) Professor James Warner, recent graduate Josh Madson, rising junior Michael Peters, and recent graduate Scott Buckwald.
WOOSTER - A team of students from The College of Wooster made quite an impression on the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) by finishing second at last month's student case competition in Boston. The event, traditionally dominated by master's and doctoral students, was highlighted by the exceptional performance of recent graduates Josh Madson and Scott Buckwald, rising junior Michael Peters, and advisor James Warner, who combined to form the Wooster team.
"What impressed me most (about the Wooster students) was their work ethic and creativity toward addressing the multifaceted aspects of the challenge," said Warner, assistant professor of economics at Wooster. "It was a real pleasure to be a small part of their success."
The 2010 sustainability themed symposium, titled "Navigating the Global Food System in a New Era," was held June 19-22. Teams participating in the competition focused on agricultural and resource economics, and represented schools in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Hungary, and the Netherlands. Wooster's participation was made possible, in part, by a mini-grant from the Lilly Project.
The first round took place within a four-hour time frame, during which each team received the same case concerning California's Central Valley water scarcity problem and the effect it has had on agricultural production. The competition required the teams to develop short- and long-term solutions for their client (a local agricultural producer). At the end of the preparation period, each team was required to deliver a 10-minute presentation and a four-page executive summary.
"We were asked a number of tough questions (by the judges) about our solutions, and we did our best to answer them," said Madson, "but we were dejected afterwards because we felt certain that we would not move on."
It was only after the Wooster students began receiving congratulations from other teams that they realized they had advanced to the next round, which took place the following day before a larger audience. Among the final four teams, Wooster was the only U.S. team still standing, placing second behind the doctoral students from Sao Paulo, but ahead of the third-place team from the University of Guelph in Canada.
Without as much of the specialized training in the area of agribusiness and agricultural economics, Wooster's students had to come up with a more innovative strategy. "Our strong training in using theory and applying it to research methods at Wooster is what enabled us to succeed in the
competition," said Madson.
Warner concurred, adding, "I was proud of the depth and breadth of their presentation. Their solutions were well grounded, both technically and theoretically, and while they may not have had extensive exposure to agricultural marketing, they duly impressed the judges. This competition serves as another excellent example of Wooster's academic preparation and standing to peers, both nationally and internationally."
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