Graduating from college is no easy feat, but for one agricultural education alumnus, it just wasn’t enough. Will Johnson (’17) has went above and beyond after graduation from Kansas State University.
After student teaching in the spring of 2017 at Cimarron High School, he took a leap and accepted a job as a teacher at Sublette High School, a nearby school that didn’t have an FFA program – that quickly changed.
During the summer, Johnson converted the essentially unused shop from storage to a working environment and began paperwork to start an FFA program at the school.
Johnson, a Whitewater, Kansas, native, says, “I really like the area and the people out here. It seemed like a chance to start something new for the community.”
This fall he is teaching an introduction to agriculture class for eighth graders and an agriculture, food, and natural resources class; an animal science class; and an agricultural structures class for high school students. In the future, he hopes to add a plant and soil science class and research in agriculture class to the curriculum.
Mikhayla DeMott, the newly hired audience engagement specialist for the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE), serves many roles. Agricultural communicator, Kansas State University alumna, and Miss Rodeo Kansas.
DeMott understands the need to connect agricultural based, rural businesses to information and research on new-media technology. She will foster that connection in her position at the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement through event planning, client outreach, media relations, and content creation.
“I’m very excited to see CREE grow this year under the vision of our newly hired director, Cassie Wandersee, and staff,” DeMott says.
She graduated (’17) with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and journalism with minors in mass communications and leadership studies from K-State. DeMott’s passion for agriculture was developed at a young age and still continues to grow. She grew up on a horse farm in Rio, Illinois, and discovered the joy in sharing the story of agriculture through rodeo.
A little over a year ago, Dr. Gaea (Wimmer) Hock (’03, ’06) and Dr. Jonathan Ulmer joined the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education as agricultural education faculty.
Throughout the past year, these two have been busy preparing students to go back into the classroom as teachers, adding technology into their projects, and igniting positive change within the program. One prominent change they are working on together, with the help of instructor Brandie Disberger, is to revise the agricultural education curriculum credit hours and add three new courses to the program.
In addition to teaching courses, Hock also offers opportunities for students to conduct undergraduate research projects regarding agricultural education and FFA programs in the state. Furthermore, she intends to lead a study abroad trip to the Czech Republic in the future.
The agricultural education program has more opportunities than ever, and students are noticing.
The Department of Communications and Agricultural Educations is excited to announce a partnership with the Staley School of Leadership Studies and the Department of Communications Studies to offer a Doctorate of Philosophy in Leadership Communication coming in the fall of 2018.
“We are excited about the collaboration between our departments as we launch the interdisciplinary PhD,” says Dr. Lauri Baker, Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education.
Katie Burke, previously Katie Starzec, is one of the many additions to the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education at Kansas State University. Burke will serve as an instructor for the agricultural communications and journalism program and will begin Monday, September 11.
Hannah Fry, junior in AGED, has taken advantage of some great opportunities while in college.
Over the 2017 spring break, Fry traveled to Spain to study abroad. In addition to her primary degree, Fry is minoring in animal science and industry (ASI) and international agriculture, so traveling abroad just made sense. Additionally, Fry speaks Spanish so Spain was an excellent choice.
Snowbird, Utah was the host of this year’s Ag Media Summit and was held over the course of five days, July 22-26. The resort hosted many Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) chapters plus industry professionals and among those were eight of Kansas State University’s very own. Audrey King, ACJ instructor and ACT advisor, and seven students made the trip to Utah and returned with some serious hardware.
“I am just plain proud,” King says. “Not only did the girls represent the organization well at the conference but winning these awards proves they work hard and represent our program really well every single day.”
They were named chapter of the year in the membership, leadership and community service categories. Topping the list of awards was being named this year’s overall outstanding chapter.
The agricultural industry faces many challenges every day and constantly. One issue that may be overlooked by some is the shortage of agriculture teachers available. Like every problem, this too has a solution and the agricultural education program at Kansas State University is taking major leaps to bridging this gap.
The Teach Ag Students of Kansas program, also known as the TASK Force, is a group of agricultural education students that travel the state of Kansas to recruit future agriculture educators. This group was established in the 2015-2016 school year and is now in its third year. Each May, seven new members are selected, while one student carries over into the next year, making it an even eight-member team. The student serving in their second year is tasked with overseeing the other students and is in charge of campus activities.
Jake Rutledge calls Dover, Kansas, home but his passion for agricultural education has taken him elsewhere, Beloit, Kansas, where he currently resides. This recent graduate is the new Agricultural Educator and FFA Advisor at Beloit High School.
Rutledge’s job comes with joys and a few challenges. His greatest task is learning all there is to know about the program and its history, so he can figure out how to move the program into the future. Though the school year hasn’t started yet, he has already been able to work with students, his favorite part thus far.
“I’ve already got to work with students this summer and plan the upcoming year,” Rutledge says. “It is great to see how excited they are for the upcoming year.”
Audrey Schmitz, May 2017 graduate, hails from Axtell, Kansas where she grew up on a dairy farm. This northeast Kansas native has recently moved across the country to Twin Falls, Idaho. She feels right at home at her new job working as an editor for The Progressive Dairymen magazine.
This dairywoman comes from a 90-cow registered Holstein farm and has been surrounded and mentored by many people in the dairy industry since a young age. She has been heavily involved in the industry through 4-H and FFA as a showman and judger. Schmitz now finds herself as a dairy industry professional working with many of the people who have taught and advised her over the years through all her activities.
“My favorite part about my job is working with my mentors and professors and reaching out to them for stories for The Progressive Dairymen,” Schmitz says.