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Department of Communications and Agricultural Education

Author: Deanna Reid

Randolph Fills Open Agricultural Communications Professor Position

We’re pleased to announce that Levy Randolph will be our new assistant professor in agricultural communications and journalism. He will join the department in summer 2019 and begin teaching during the fall semester. 

Levy earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University in agricultural education and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Florida in agricultural education and communication. Along with experience as a conference facilitator for National FFA, he and his wife Tiffany own and operate a video production company. He has taught multiple media production courses and business writing. His research agenda focuses on science communication through narratives. We look forward to his arrival and having a full faculty.

His office will be located on the third floor of Umberger Hall. 

 

Richard Baker Retires

To hear Richard tell it, he became a broadcaster because a fraternity brother told him he should get into the media business because he likes to talk.

With those inspiring words, Richard set off on his quest, studying at K-State and working at several radio stations across Kansas in the 1960s and 70s. He was running a black radio station in Omaha when legendary K-State broadcaster Ralph Titus called him looking for a new news director at KSAC, the college’s radio station that would later become KKSU. Richard ran the news operation for the radio station from 1977 until 2002, when the university lost the station, to the regret of many. At that point, Richard was offered the opportunity by our former department head to transition to teaching agricultural communications, which he did from 2002 until this week.

Throughout his four decades at K-State, Richard also produced a weekly interview program called Perspective. His original charge was to share information that people would not otherwise have easy access to, so for decades, Richard has hosted a wide array of thought-provoking authors on topics from astrophysics to xenophobia.

Whether working by serving the Kansas listening audience or working with students, Richard has held to – and taught – his personal ethics of fact-based reporting, fairness, quality and transparency. He’s never been afraid to ask the tough questions – and as a good journalist, he actually relishes those moments. Iron sharpens iron, and Richard, to his credit, helped many a colleague and student sharpen their skills and thinking.

The department thanks Richard for his four decades of service at Kansas State University!

Agricultural Education Student Named National FFA Star in Agriscience

By Gaea Hock, ’03, ’08, associate professor of agricultural education

Eric Koehlmoos, senior in agricultural education, was named the 2018 National FFA Star in Agriscience.

As a high school student at South O’Brien in Paullina, Iowa, Koehlmoos used his home ATF-approved ethanol facility to research the processes used in a commercial ethanol plant. In high school, his research competed nationally and internationally. While at K-State, Koehlmoos has conducted research on teacher perceptions of the Kansas FFA Agriscience Fair.

https://www.ffa.org/the-feed/meet-eric-koehlmoos-2018-star-in-agriscience-finalist/

Alumni match doubles scholarship donations

Doug and Sabrina Kruse have given a gift to create 15 matching scholarships in the College of Agriculture as part of the new K-State Family Scholarship Program. Doug graduated in 1988 with a degree in feed science and management.

This match means an individual, group of individuals or an organization can donate $30,000, and it will be matched with $30,000 from the Kruse contribution to form a college scholarship.

The Kruse K-State Family Scholarship will be used to match at least 15 new gifts for student scholarships. New gifts of $30,000 will be matched with $30,000 from the Kruses’ gift. $10,000 will go into an expendable scholarship fund, making $2,000 scholarships immediately available to students for up to five years. The remaining $50,000 will go into the endowment, ensuring future generations of Wildcats will receive scholarships as well. The $30,000 donation can be one lump sum or contributed in five annual contributions of $6,000. 
If you are interested in participating in the K-State Family Scholarship Program, visit www.ksufoundation.org/family for more information or contact John Morris, senior vice president of development, at 785-532-7587.

K-State Meat Judging Team wins in Texas

On October 28, the Kansas State University Meat Judging Team brought home the first-place cup from the Cargill High Plains Meat Judging Contest in Friona, Texas. K-State won overall team as well as first place in beef grading, total beef and specifications. The team scored an impressive perfect score of 400 in specifications, a difficult feat that rarely happens.

K-State had three students place in the top 10 individuals. Twelve schools from across the nation competed at the Cargill contest.

The contest consists of placing 10 classes including beef, pork and lamb carcasses, two classes of beef cuts and two classes of pork cuts. Students also must write reasons on five of those classes, identify specification defects and quality and yield grade 15 beef carcasses.

Certain specifications are set by the USDA to ensure meat is similar by different companies. Contestants must know these specifications and identify any defects the cuts may have. Grading beef carcasses determines the value the carcass has to the consumer. In the contests, students grade the quality of carcasses based on the degree of marbling in the ribeye. Yield grades must be calculated to the nearest tenth while factoring in the carcass’s ribeye size, fat and weight.

Each part of the competition is timed, which forces students to be concise and accurate in their decision-making process. Along with decision-making skills, students gain knowledge of the meat industry and make connections with other students, professors and industry professionals.

“Achieving a perfect team specification score and being only the second K-State meat judging team to win Cargill made this contest the most memorable of this fall,” said Kaci Foraker, junior in agricultural communications and journalism. “This contest had some of the most challenging classes we had encountered all year. It was rewarding to have our hard work and long hours spent practicing pay off.”

The team competed in their final competition on November 11 at the International Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest in Dakota City, Nebraska.

Travis O’Quinn, associate professor of animal sciences and industry, coaches the team. Members include: Cole Liggett, Dennison, Ohio; Grace Luebcke, Marysville, Kansas; Hannah Taylor, Arlington, Wisconsin; Kaci Foraker, Burrton, Kansas; Keayla Harr, Jeromesville, Ohio; Leah Parsons, Leavenworth, Kansas; and Sam Davis, Madison, Kansas.

AgComm graduate students participate in Science Communication Week

 

By Rachel Waggie, agricultural communications master’s student

Kansas State University hosted its second annual Science Communication Week Nov. 5–10, 2018. The Nov. 8 graduate student poster session focused on “Research and the State.” About 50 K-State graduate students, representing five academic colleges and 25 graduate programs, presented research posters. Approximately 17 presenters were from the College of Agriculture, two were from the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education. Mariah Bausch and Anissa Zagonel presented posters titled “Undergraduate Research Perceptions in Agricultural Communications” and “Printing and Mailing for the Brand: An Exploratory Qualitative Study Seeking to Understand Internal Branding and Marketing within University and Extension Communication Services Units,” respectively.

Anissa Zagonel’s research focused on “Printing and Mailing for the Brand: An Exploratory Qualitative Study Seeking to Understand Internal Branding and Marketing within University and Extension Communication Services Units.”

 

Experiences such as these are great chances for graduate students to present research in a more relaxed setting. “Opportunities like these are helpful for me to practice communicating my research, as well as learning from other disciplines,” says Zagonel, a second-year master’s student from Girard, Kansas. “Additionally, during this poster session, I enjoyed connecting with other graduate students from across campus.”

Both students presented their posters to a panel of judges, as well as other students and interested individuals, for the chance to earn a spot at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit hosted in Topeka this coming February.

Other events throughout the week included communications workshops, lectures, panel discussions, and other activities to engage graduate students across campus.

Mariah Bausch’s research focused on “Undergraduate Research Perceptions in Agricultural Communications.”

 

Imagery in agriculture: ACT calendar project

By Leah Geiss, agricultural communications and journalism senior

The Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) club has implemented a 2019 calendar sale into their fundraising efforts. Calendar proceeds will help support chapter professional development and travel opportunities.

Calendar photos were taken by agricultural communications and journalism (ACJ) students during in AGCOM 420, Imagery in Agriculture class. Audrey King ’13, ’16 taught this class in the 2018 spring semester. Many ACT members were in the class and wanted to create a calendar to showcase student photography.

“The class was such a great learning experience and helped me really understand the basics of photography,” says Leah Giess, ACT president. “Many ACJ students thrived in the class and took such beautiful photos, so as a club, we decided we needed to share that with everyone.”

Katelyn Harbert, agricultural communications and journalism student, headed the calendar creation process.

“Designing the calendar was an excellent opportunity for using skills learned in the classroom in a real-world situation,” Harbert says. “Gaining this experience while helping support our club has been wonderful, and I am excited to see the project come to fruition.”

For those interested in purchasing a 2019 ACT calendar, the price is $15. Copies will be ready for distribution by December 12. Payments can be made in cash, check or by credit card in person in 301 Umberger Hall. Checks can be made out to Kansas State University ACT and mailed to 1612 Claflin Road, 301 Umberger Hall, Manhattan, Kansas 66506. For credit card payments, call (785) 532-5804. Use this link for online orders: https://goo.gl/forms/v3jIbQsvXE9MUW4U2.

If there are any questions, email kstateact@gmail.com.

Agricultural Education students and faculty present at conferences, receive honors

By Linda Gilmore, editor, publishing unit

Undergraduate students and faculty in agricultural education were in Fargo, North Dakota, October 6–8 to participate in the North Central American Association for Agricultural Education conference.

Zachary Callaghan and Caitlin Dreher, both juniors in agricultural education, represented K-State extremely well at the conference. They competed against professors and graduate students in several areas. The two undergraduates received the following awards:

* First Runner-Up Research Presentation — Zachary Callaghan and Gaea Hock ’03, ’08, associate professor of agricultural education

* Outstanding Research Poster — Caitlin Dreher and Gaea Hock

* Outstanding Innovative Idea Poster — Zachary Callaghan, Gaea Hock and Brandie Disberger ’01,’03, agricultural education instructor.

 

Gaea Hock and Zachary Callaghan attended the International Conference on Educational Innovation in Agrarian Topics in Lima, Peru, Oct. 16–23. They presented the following posters:

  1. Meyers, C. Hock, G. & Redwine, T. Student perceptions of receiving video feedback on assignments.
  2. Hock, G., Disberger, B., & Ulmer, J. Lessons Learned from Corn-Focused High Impact Learning Opportunities (HILOs).
  3. Callaghan, Z. & Hock, G. (October 2018). Assessing a Water-Focused Youth Education Training Program.

 

Two undergraduates in the department were selected to the Quest Freshmen Honorary, a student organization that works to develop freshmen into leaders by exposing them to leaders, mentors, and opportunities across campus and the community.

  • Garrett Craig, agricultural education from Clay Center;
  • Noah Ochsner, agricultural communications and journalism from Tribune.

https://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/2018-10/quest10918.html

Lauri Baker presents at annual KSPA fall conference

By Allison Wakefield, agricultural communications and journalism junior

“Research isn’t just lab coats and chemicals,” said Lauri Baker, as she spoke at the annual Kansas Scholastic Press Association (KSPA) fall conference in the Kansas State University Student Union. 

Baker, associate professor of agricultural communications and journalism, explained to high school students the needs and benefits of conducting and distributing research. She introduced the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE) and its research mission to help people conduct their businesses, especially in rural areas. Baker is a co-founder of the center.

Students received data from two research projects CREE conducted with K-State undergraduate students. Baker detailed the step-by-step process to conduct a quantitative content analysis looking at e-commerce sales in the horticulture industry, which included reading literature about online sales in advertising and related to e-commerce and developing a codebook that was reliable to gather data.

Baker presented the research gathered from the quantitative analysis. The students were amazed at the horticulture websites’ lack of accessibility. Of 498 horticulture businesses, only 19.2 percent were selling online and half of those companies did not have fully functional shopping cart systems for customer purchases.

During her presentation, Baker asked the students what they would want from an online plant-buying experience and compared it to the data collected from the focus groups, known as qualitative research. The groups ask potential consumers what they want from an online plant-buying experience, such as 360-degree video imaging and the use of more pictures.

The students listened to the challenges these businesses were facing and the improvements they could make from the research conducted.

Baker discussed how the millennial generation – those born between 1981 and 1997 – did not love the ideas that were created. She described how their findings helped business owners understand that potential customers wanted many resources when looking to purchase and care for a plant. She also mentioned the pitfalls of not having an engaging, high-quality 360-degree video for the focus groups to view the plants.

Focus group research confirmed that millennials prefer going into a business to purchase plants instead of buying online. It helped researchers understand and communicate to the businesses that they needed more deal pricing to get customers in the door.

The presentation concluded with Baker reiterating the importance of research and how it can help companies boost revenue. Several students said they were inspired by her presentation and asked Baker how to conduct their own research.

Interdisciplinary team awarded $2.9 million NSF Research Traineeship grant to strengthen rural communities

By Linda Gilmore, Editor, Publishing Unit

 

Gaea Hock is part of an interdisciplinary team awarded a National Science Foundation grant to train graduate students to help communities address complex issues of water management and rural vitality. Melanie Derby, K-State assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering and Hal and Mary Siegele Professor of Engineering, leads the team. Derby will help meet these challenges by training students to work at the nexus of several disciplines.

 

“The whole goal of interdisciplinary research is that someone else’s perspective makes both your work stronger,” Derby said. “We do fundamental engineering work, but we want it to go to the field. We need to know how to make that happen. One of our goals is to help western Kansas and other semiarid communities be resilient in the future. We need all the components — engineering, agricultural economics, sociology, and more — to solve these important challenges.”

 

Derby and her colleagues will mentor graduate students as they conduct fundamental research in three areas of the crucial food-energy-water system: conservation of and producer relationships with the Ogallala Aquifer, soil-water-microbial systems, and technologies to transform animal waste into energy and water. They also will work to understand engineering, economic, and sociocultural barriers to implementing emerging innovations.

 

Building communication skills and a common vocabulary across disciplines is a crucial aspect of the training. Students will engage with policymakers and attend state legislative sessions in Topeka, plus they will spend time at the Southwest Research-Extension Center in Garden City to research smart water technologies and meet with farmers and others whose livelihoods depend on conserving the aquifer and other resources.

 

In addition to Derby and Matt Sanderson (co-principal investigator and the Randall C. Hill Distinguished Professor of Sociology), the team includes co-investigators Jonathan Aguilar and Stacy Hutchinson, biological and agricultural engineering; Prathap Parameswaran, civil engineering; and David Steward, civil and environmental engineering department, North Dakota State University; educational lead Gaea Hock ’03, ’06, communications and agricultural education; and advisors Nathan Hendricks, agricultural economics, and Ryan Hansen, chemical engineering. The program will train 50 master’s and doctoral students, including 25 funded trainees from the colleges of Agriculture, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering.