The Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow were busy during the month of March with social activities and philanthropic efforts.
Officers hosted a “Paint Your Own Flower Pot” party for members to prepare for Spring. Students designed their own terracotta pots while enjoying snacks and sweets. All enjoyed a relaxing, fun evening while learning about upcoming events on the club’s schedule like K-State Open House, Ag Media Summit, NACTA Ag Media Team, and fundraising opportunities.
“During this social, I loved seeing how creative members got when designing their flower pots, while also being productive and hearing about our events,” says Leah Giess, ACT Officer.
In addition to social activities, members have also been busy working with the Flint Hills Breadbasket. Flint Hills Breadbasket’s mission is to minimize hunger and poverty through the distribution of available food and to nurture projects that will help alleviate hunger and poverty. As part of ACT’s philanthropic efforts, members design and prepare a newsletter for mailing. ACT member, Ashley Fitzsimmons designed the newsletter, and ACT members and officers prepared over 1,500 newsletters for distribution by tabbing and labeling.
“Our club loves supporting such an amazing organization that does so much for our community, and we enjoy getting to use our skills and knowledge to help them with their duties,” says Giess.
“Building relationships and trust is crucial to success as a research and extension communicator,” says Donna Sheffield, publishing editor at K-State Research and Extension.
Growing up on a farm in Georgia, Sheffield says she can recall her father approaching their local extension agents with questions concerning their operation and relying on them for their expertise.
From her observations, she realized the importance of having access to knowledge and research, especially about agriculture. “I really value extension, what it has down for rural America, and what it is doing. Farming is not an easy way of life,” she says.
Today, farmers experience many challenges from fluctuating crop prices to weather phenomena such as wildfires and hurricanes that damage homes and arable land. Sheffield’s father grew up during the Great Depression, in a time when farm life was similarly challenging. Climatic weather events like the Dust Bowl damaged soil and crops, causing intense economic stress on farmers. Sheffield’s family continued their involvement in the agricultural industry throughout her life.
Teaching, research, and extension work together as the three parts of the extension system to ensure information and support are freely accessible to producers. Sheffield says, “Extension relies heavily on ‘local experts,’ such as county extension agents. They offer their expertise and any pertinent materials published by the university.”
On the other hand, Sheffield’s position involves editing publications before they reach the extension agents. She works specifically with the animal science, horticulture, and entomology departments at KSU. “My job is to translate [their] research into layman’s terms,” Sheffield says.
At the beginning of February, the AgEd Club hosted their annual KSU Speech Contest in Bluemont Hall. There were over 180 Kansas FFA members competing and 45 K-State students helping throughout the day.
Categories of speeches included freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, creed, and extemporaneous.
The 2018 Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists (SAAS) was held in Jacksonville, Florida. Graduate students, alumna, and faculty from our department attend SAAS to learn, network, and present their agricultural communications research.
The SAAS conference is a great opportunity for professionals in the agricultural industry and the educational field to come together to learn from each other and collaborate ways to improve the industry. The conference is divided into sections; agricultural communications is one of them. This networking event allows for other agricultural communicators to challenge each other to find more effective way of communicating the agricultural message.
During one of SAAS’s paper sessions, recent graduate, Courtney Boman (’17) and department head, Dr. Jason Ellis (’98) presented their research focusing on the “Measuring the influence of Twitter-based crisis communications strategies on brand reputation via experimental design.” The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement managing director, Cassie Wandersee (’16) and graduate professor, Dr. Lauri M. Baker presented their topic, “A quantitative assessment of possession rituals and engagement in Pinterest: An examination of the agricultural industry,” as well during this session.
Graduate students also had the opportunity to share their research findings at SAAS with a poster session and talking one-on-one with other professionals at the conference. Andres De Leon, Deanna Reid, and Kelsey Tully’s research focused on the “The Next Generation of Video Marketing: A qualitative study exploring the use of 360-degree video to market plants to millennials.”
Graduate student, Deanna Reid, says, “Attending SAAS was a great opportunity to meet other graduate students and agricultural communications professors. It was also neat to be able to put faces with the names on the articles and research I’ve been reading.”
Kansas State University and the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education was well represented at SAAS. These events give students the chance to explain and defend their research as well as learning from other academicians in the agricultural communications field.
The department congratulates Rick Butler and Phylicia Mau as Department Employees of the Year through a nomination and review process. Each received a plaque, and their names have been added to the plaques in the conference room in the main office.
Butler (’93), who works for University Printing, reviews customer-pro
vided electronic files before plate output, completes customer-requested design work, and provides prepress design consultation for clients.
Mau is a part of the publishing in the department and provides clien
ts with graphic design assistance, including page layouts, logos, artwork, posters, electronic publications, and other visual displays. She creates designs and images for print and electronic use.
These awards were announced at the Groundhog Day breakfast celebration. Pancakes and sausages were enjoyed by all.
K-State ACT recently hosted a successful networking event for AGCOM students, alumni, and industry professionals. Despite the unideal weather on February 6, there were over 20 people in attendance at the event held in the Berney Family Welcome Center.
At the event, there were five industry professionals representing KSU Department of Animal Science, Kansas Wheat, K-State Research and Extension, Kansas Soybean Commission, and Kansas Farm Bureau.
Senior ACJ student and ACT Officer, Sam Albers, says, “We had a really great turnout, which was awesome. Students were able to meet and connect with the professionals and build connections.”
An important aspect of this event was for students to improve their networking skills. The professionals first introduced themselves and then provided a networking tip that they use regularly.
Senior ACJ student Ashley Fitzsimmons who attended says, “This opportunity allowed me to brush up on my networking skills and converse with other industry professionals.”
Although Amanda Tomlinson did not initially plan on a career in agricultural communications, the field has given her many opportunities.
Tomlinson has been working as an editor for the Publishing Unit in the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education for the past two years. She edits and publishes research reports created by Kansas State University faculty.
The faculty that she edits for receive research funds from the Kansas Agriculture Experiment Station, which include agricultural experiment stations located throughout the state. Before these faculty submit publications to outside journals and papers, she reviews the manuscripts to ensure correct formatting and grammar.
“My role is helping faculty get their message out there by editing, printing and publishing their work so that farmers, producers, and others can read the material,” says Tomlinson.
After a successful national search, the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education has chosen Dr. Jason Ellis (‘98) for the Department Head position. He previously held the Interim Department Head position, and his new position appointment began January 14.
Dr. Ellis completed his undergraduate degree in agricultural communications and journalism at K-State and has been with the department for almost seven years as an associate professor in agricultural communications. He brings a wealth of knowledge, ideas, and energy to the department.
“This department is full of great faculty, staff, and students who work hard everyday to make it successful,” says Ellis. “I encourage alumni to not just offer their time and talent but to bring us ideas to help us continue down the path of excellence.”
Six ACJ students and two advisors attended and participated in the 2018 National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) Professional Development Conference (PDC) held January 11-13 in Wooster, Ohio.
This year’s conference was hosted by The Ohio State University’s ACT organization and the theme was “Cultivating Communicators.”
During the conference, students took part in discussions about crisis communication and public relations event planning. Attendees were also able to tour Weaver Leather and Certified Angus Beef.
“It’s so wonderful seeing our members attend and engage in their first PDC and really reap the benefits of our national organization and the network it provides,” says K-State ACT President and fourth year ACJ student, Jill Seiler.
The next PDC will be in conjunction with the National Association for Farm Broadcaster’s Convention held in November 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri.
K-State’s AGED graduates are ahead of the game when it comes to the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) certification.
In the past, many teachers completed this certification during the summer breaks of teaching. K-State’s program is one of only three with a course model that certifies students while they are still in college. Students are able to start teaching with one whole class plan under their belt. Many typically use these lesson plans for their freshman or introduction to agriculture class.
Students in the program go through 65 hours of professional development in a three credit course. In this rigorous class, students are challenged with concepts of inquiry-based instruction, the impact of scaffolding on year-long curriculum, and activity projects and problems. The course also requires students to prepare materials and supplies.
Master’s student and current student teacher at Cimarron High School, Brooke Harshaw (’16) says, “It’s fairly intense throughout the semester, but it’s helpful because you’re ready to go when you’re out student teaching.”
This is the second year the certification has been offered, and with the help of a grant provided by DuPont Pioneer, seven current agricultural education teachers were able to receive the certification during the course as well.