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Department of Communications and Agricultural Education

Category: 2020

Student Spotlight: Allison Bertz

by Jessica Schaeffer, agricultural communications master’s student

Allison is posing hands folded over stomach in a black shirt and white pants
Allison Bertz

Allison Bertz was raised on a seventh-generation farm south of Kansas City and knew early on that agricultural communications was what she wanted to pursue. She worked for Fahrmeier Farms U-Pick and Produce Market during high school and enjoyed being able to interact with the urban population from Kansas City. Bertz was introduced to Kansas State University and the department when her cousin, Molly Bertz, enrolled at the university. Since her identical twin, Abby, was committed to going to the University of Missouri, she decided to follow her own path and attend Kansas State University pursing agricultural communications and journalism. She has found value in being a student in the College of Agriculture and the opportunities it has provided to grow as an individual.

Bertz devotes most of her time outside of classes to the College of Agriculture Ambassadors program. She is grateful for the opportunity to interact with prospective students and help put them at ease while on their first visit. Last year, she was the College of Agriculture Training Program Coordinator (CAT) for Ag Ambassadors. In this role, she taught current students the CAT class that introduces each major, offerings and specialties in the College of Agriculture. Now, she is the selections coordinator and facilitates the application and interview process for potential ambassadors.

Bertz presenting with green powerpoint and olive dress
Allison Bertz presenting.

She is also involved with Cargill Fellows through which she is guided on developing her professional skills within the industry. This summer, she will be a marketing intern for Cargill. She is also a member of the Agricultural Communications Advancement Team for the major to help recruit students to the major. Serving as secretary for Kappa Kappa Gamma, Bertz helps empower women in academics, volunteerism and leadership. She is also a member of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow.

One of Bertz’s favorite college experiences was when she traveled abroad to the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg in May of 2019 with the agricultural economics department. Seeing how these countries approached agriculture, Bertz was amazed by the technological advancements of the countries. She enjoyed being immersed in the cultures and enjoyed interacting with the people.

Allison Bertz (right) with her cousin Molly Bertz, a 2019 K-State alumna.

Bertz worked for the Missouri Corn Growers Association as a grower services intern following her freshman year. She enjoyed advocating for and representing the industry she grew up in. On behalf of Missouri corn growers, Bertz traveled to Washington D.C. and met policy makers to discuss issues facing the growers. In summer 2019, she was an account management intern for Signal Theory, an advertising agency, in Kansas City. In her role, she conducted behavioral science research with cattle producers. While in school, she is the communications intern for the College of Agriculture producing content for the K-State Agriculture social media accounts.

When she graduates in December 2020, she hopes to be working in marketing because she enjoys how it ties business and communications together through the element of strategy.

Faculty Spotlight: Jon Ulmer- Associate Professor, Agricultural Education, Undergraduate Teaching Coordinator

by Jessica Schaeffer, agricultural communications master’s student

Ulmer posing for headshot in a tan suit jacket and white button up with a purple tie.
Jon Ulmer

Jon Ulmer always knew that he wanted to work in agriculture. Unable to ranch or farm, Ulmer found a career that allowed him to work in agriculture in a diversified way. He earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in agricultural education from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Oklahoma State University and the University of Missouri, respectively.

Drawn to the opportunity of joining a long-standing program that is known for developing great teachers and leaders, Ulmer joined the department in the fall of 2016. He leads the agricultural education teaching license program at K-State along with senior seminar, leadership and professional development, principles and philosophy of career, and technical education courses. Soon, Ulmer will be launching the agricultural education option for the master of arts in teaching. Ulmer researches teachers’ needs and enjoys helping students find topics that interest them.

“The best part of teaching at K-State is the quality of the students. I also really like working with Gaea Hock and Brandie Disberger as we make a great team,” Ulmer says.

Along with his teaching responsibilities he also works on the USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the reduction of Post-Harvest Loss. His role is to help African farmers adopt technologies to allow for better grain storage. Along with his research, Ulmer served on the National FFA Board of Directors from 2015-2019.

On a personal note, Ulmer enjoys working with simple mechanical and small construction projects. His wife, Ann, is employed by the agricultural grants office at K-State. They are also parents to Naveah and Zaden.

Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Hotchkiss Shike

by Rachel Waggie, agricultural education and communication master’s student

This May will mark 20 years since Jennifer Hotchkiss Shike graduated from Kansas State University’s Agricultural Journalism program – now the Agricultural Communications and Journalism program. Shike transferred to K-State for her final two years of college and was a dual-major in agricultural journalism and animal sciences and industry. During her collegiate career, she was a member of both the horse and livestock judging teams and completed three internships, which she credits as a key part of her educational experience. Shike interned

with the Washington County Extension Office in Washington, Iowa; Seedstock Edge/National Swine Registry in West Lafayette, Ind.; and the Angus Journal in St Joseph, Mo., before graduating in May 2000. She notes that internships “opened doors to opportunities for my future careers, helped me build a network in the industry, allowed me to get real-world experience and maybe most importantly, helped me realize things I did and did not want to do in a future career while having respect for the growth process.”

Before entering her current role as Farm Journal’s PORK editor, Shike served as National Swine Registry director of junior activities. She later went on to work for the University of Illinois as a news writer and then director of communications and marketing.

“Organizing the National Junior Swine Association from the ground up was an amazing opportunity that I still can’t believe I was able to do. Through that I learned so much about communication, organizational development and people – I can’t imagine my perspective at this point of my life without it. Going to work for the University of Illinois…just grew my experience base tenfold,” Shike remarks. “If I would have limited myself to immediately going to work for a livestock magazine as I had dreamed in college, I would have missed out on so much.”

Reflecting on her time at K-State, Shike fondly remembers working with faculty and staff in ag journalism. She says they were very supportive of her as a dual-major and especially appreciates Dr. Boone’s encouragement and support. “I was involved in ACT and she always made that a fun and rewarding experience. She encouraged me to get out in the industry and experience ag communications firsthand,” Shike recalls. Shike also credits her peers from K-State who motivated her to push her boundaries and sharpened her as a writer and communicator. Currently, Shike serves on the Livestock Publications Council board of directors and as a committee co-chair in AAEA – The Ag Communicators Network.

Shike and her husband, Dan, who is also a K-State alum, live near Champaign, Illinois. The Shikes have three children – Olivia, 13; Hunter, 11; and Harper, 6.

“Our kids definitely keep us on the go – we all enjoy showing pigs as a family and the kids pretty much live in the barn in the summer when they aren’t in school,” she says.

Jennifer and Dan originally met at Black Hawk College East Campus while on the livestock judging team. Both continued their judging careers at K-State, and judge at livestock shows still today. Dan judges livestock shows throughout the country and has been fortunate to judge in some amazing places outside of the U.S. like the Sydney Royal Show in Australia and most recently, the Royal Adelaide show in Australia. Jennifer recently judged showmanship at the Arizona National Livestock Show. At the community level, with all three kids involved in 4-H, the Shikes assist with the county 4-H livestock judging team.

When asked what advice she would offer to current students, Shike says, “Be open minded and push yourself to think outside of the box. The very best part of this major is the flexibility – there are so many ways to apply what you are learning and that is exciting! I know I’ve been able to get to where I am today because of that strong base I developed at K-State.”

Wakefield named Student of the Month

by Rachel Waggie, agricultural education and communication master’s student

Agricultural Communications and Journalism senior Allison Wakefield was honored as the K-State College of Agriculture’s December 2019 Student of the Month.

“My experiences within the College of Ag have been nothing short of remarkable and memorable. The relationships I’ve made and skills I have learned from everyone are irreplaceable.”
– Allison Wakefield

 

 

 

 

 

 

This honor is awarded to one College of Agriculture student per month in the academic year. With 10 departments and over 2,500 students in the College of Ag, being selected as a Student of the Month is no small feat. Congratulations, Allison.