Forging a path forward

After a decorated career as a Marine, Kenzi Schultz chose a career in agriculture with the goal of working alongside and supporting Missouri’s farmers.

Dec. 11, 2023
Contact: Deidra Ashley,

For Kenzi Schultz, a Marine who served in Japan as an aircraft firefighter and medic, graduating with her bachelor’s degree in agriculture has always been a dream.

Since being honorably discharged from the military, Schultz has been pursuing her education in agriculture. Having grown up in the small town of Cordelia, California, Schultz was intrigued by the idea of viticulture and ended up learning the trade in Sonoma County upon returning from the service. After immersing herself in the wine industry of California, Schultz found her true passion and decided to continue her education and learn more about agriculture.

At the University of Missouri, Schultz found community at the MU Veterans Center and built friendships through volunteering at the Veterans Urban Farm at the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture. During her studies, she traveled to Cornell University to work as a summer research scholar in plant pathology as part of the AgriTech Summer Scholars Research Program, which remains one of her favorite Mizzou memories.

Read on for a Q&A with Shultz about her Mizzou experience.

Why did you choose Mizzou?

I moved from California to Missouri to be closer to family and get away from the California wildfires. When I left the service, I trained in viticulture and managed a tasting room in the Sonoma square. When I decided to go back to school to study agriculture, Mizzou seemed like the right choice because it is one of the best programs in the state.

How did you take advantage of hands-on learning opportunities on campus?

As a non-traditional student, I was intimidated at first when I arrived on campus, but I quickly discovered the MU Veterans Center and got to meet a lot of like-minded veterans. They knew what I was going through and they helped me fully embrace the journey into college. Part of choosing Mizzou was for the opportunities here, so I got involved in a diverse range of classes and made connections with my professors — many whom still reach out to me with opportunities, whether academic or job-related.

What's your favorite Mizzou memory?

My favorite Mizzou memory was going to the Mizzou veteran appreciation football game. I got to go on the field with my fellow veterans, and seeing all the support we have from the local community was heartwarming and made me feel proud to be a Tiger. 

What would you tell someone who's interested in coming to Mizzou?

I think the advisors here are amazing. The support students receive from faculty makes getting your degree here a worthwhile experience. Mizzou is a place where you can settle in and learn in an environment that is challenging academically, but also prepares you for your future career.

What's next for you?

After graduation I have hopes of working with MU Extension or, ultimately, with the United States Department of Agriculture. I also plan to go to graduate school when the time is right. I want to be able to talk to researchers about what's going on as well as to farmers and understand both sides of the equation. My long-term goal is really to be able to make a difference in the lives of farmers.

Story written by Courtney Perrett

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