Harvesting Success

Fraternity life bridges the gap between Gavin Spoor's focus on studies and building his popcorn farm.

by Jocelyn Racelis

As a kid, Gavin Spoor used to climb into his neighbor’s tractor and dream of owning his own farm.

When he got older, though, he recognized that, without a family farm to inherit or the money to buy his own operation, his dream was unrealistic.

Reluctantly, he put it aside. He would go to college, get a degree in agriculture and work in corporate farming. Then, after a couple decades, he could buy his own land.

In that spirit of compromise, he left Martinsburg, Missouri, for Columbia.

At Mizzou, Spoor joined Alpha Gamma Rho. Immediately, he began talking to fraternity alumni who encouraged him to stop putting his dream on pause and to start working for it now.

Spoor concluded that starting with a few acres was within his reach, if he put in the work. Excited, he began to wonder, if he could pursue his dream life immediately, why stay in college?

He considered leaving after his first semester. His fraternity brothers wanted him to stay. Think big picture, they said. Think about the lessons you’ll learn and the networks you’ll build.

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They persuaded him — and then stood by him. His brothers kept him focused on being a full-time student while he also built his business. Additionally, the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources supported Spoor academically.

“They work around your schedule,” Spoor said. “That gives me time to come home and work on the farm on some work days and the weekends.”

He started with 6 acres of soybeans. In the past two years, he has converted them to popcorn, which has a much higher profit margin, and grown the operation to 200 acres.

Now a junior, Spoor distributes bags, sacks and jars of Spoor Farms popcorn to 10 retail locations, including his high school concession stand. And his agriculture studies are still going strong.

“Alpha Gamma Rho is the reason I stayed at the University of Missouri,” Spoor says. “Those guys wanted me to stay. They knew that I had it in me. That fraternity is still the reason I’m here.”

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