Kansas State University


Department of Communications and Agricultural Education

Category: 2020

Graduating Seniors Agricultural Education

Congratulations to our 2020 Graduates for Agricultural Education!

Falon Kickhaefer

Favorite memory: My favorite memory at K-State was working together with my best friend at Academy Sports and Outdoors as well as attending football and basketball games.

Post Grad Plans: After graduation I will return to my hometown to begin my teaching career at Herington High School.

Karlea Hyman

Favorite memory: I would say my greatest memory of K-State is meeting my lifelong friends. They are what made K-State so great.

Post Grad Plans: I accepted an agricultural education job at Kiowa County High School in Greensburg Kansas.

Caitlin Dreher

Favorite memory at KState: Traveling to the Czech Republic on a faculty-led study abroad tour and gaining a new perspective in both agriculture and education.

Post grad plans: Attending Oklahoma State University to pursue a masters in agricultural leadership.

Cara Wolverton

Favorite Memory: Wing and Slider Wednesday with my friends!

Post Grad Plans: Teach High School Agriculture

Jenna Thurman

Favorite memory: Going to National convention with Ag Ed club and talking with potential future KSU students, along with helping with convention contests!

Plans after graduation: I plan to substitute teach for a year until a possible job opens up close to where I want to be.

Casey Ballard

K-State Memory: My favorite memory at K-State is getting to share my passion for agriculture with youth. I had the amazing opportunity to help teach workshops at the MANRRS Conference in Overland Park, Kansas during my Fall 2019 semester with youth from around the country.

Post Grad Plans: Pursing a career in Agricultural Education, teaching High School Agriculture and advising youth as an FFA advisor.

Allison Dix

Favorite Memory: My favorite K-State memory was when I traveled to Ireland on a study abroad trip with Dr. Ellis and other Ag Education and Ag Communications students. Seeing agriculture in a new country has helped me teach my students about how food, fuel, and fiber is made in another country.

Post-Grad Plans: I will be starting my first year as an agricultural education instructor at Cheylin schools in Bird City Kansas.

Victoria Thompson

Favorite memory at K-State-Being in the Marching Band and getting to celebrate every Wildcat Victory with 450+ of my closest friends!!

Post-Grad Plans: I’ve accepted an agricultural education position at Ness City Jr./Sr. High School as an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor.

Trenton Smedley

Favorite Memory: Storming the field at BSFS after beating OU!

Post Grad Plans: I will be teaching agriculture and chartering an FFA chapter at Olathe West High School.

Katelyn Pinkston

My favorite memory at K-State would have to be playing on intramural teams. I played softball, basketball, volleyball, and flag football. Each of the teams that I was on was so much fun and it was a good break from studying!

After graduating, I plan to teach middle or high school agricultural education classes and serve as an FFA advisor. I am looking forward to working with students and teaching about agricultural topics!

Not pictured

  • Mariah Moore
  • Jenna Langer
  • SaRae Roberts
  • Tim Kennedy
  • Carlogene Romans
  • Dominic Ruppert
  • Matthew Milholm
  • Hannah Hosick
  • Mackenzie Tynon
  • Royce Powelson
  • Elizabeth Meyer
  • Victoria Kimbrough
  • Morgan Jilek
  • Zachary Callaghan


Graduating Seniors Agricultural Communications and Journalism

We want to celebrate our graduating seniors! Read on to learn more about our graduating seniors from the agricultural communications and journalism major.

Brooklyn Adam

“ACJ has prepared me for my future by giving me the real-life, hands-on experience and practical classes with content related to real-world scenarios.”


Adrian Austin

“My favorite part of ACJ is our awesome faculty and staff. The leaders of this department truly cultivate a family atmosphere and care bout the success and well-being of students.”


Sierra Cargill

“I loved the design class in ACJ. I feel like I am a better communicator and have learned skills that I am excited to use. Enjoy your time in ACJ, it goes fast!”


Brigid Ernst

“I would like to work in government public affairs in the dairy industry.  K-State has provided her a very hands-on realistic education for the career.”

Kaci Foraker

“My favorite memory in ACJ is traveling to Ireland on a faculty-led study abroad and working together


Amber Helwig

“ACJ has prepared me for my future by providing me with opportunities to work with clients and companies for class projects and assignments.”


Mikey Hughes

“ACT really helped me lay the foundation for my future. Even if that doesn’t impact you as deeply, the industry and peer connections alone make it worthwhile Joining an being involved is literally like getting a head start into the professional world of agricultural communications.


Amber Kelly

“The people are what make this department so great. My favorite part of ACJ is the connections I’ve formed with students, faculty and staff- from early morning meetings with donuts provided by Dr. Burke to the “momma hugs” I got from Mrs. Patty anytime I had a bad day.”


Jena Lyn


Mary Marsh

“The ACJ classes strengthened my abilities as a writer, got me connected with professionals in the industry and introduced me to new tools that made me more marketable.”


Janae McKinney


“I love the faculty of ACJ and how much they truly care about students. They are always there to talk or give advice or even ask about your day. The faculty and staff make it feel like a family on the third floor of Umberger. I also love the classes in ACJ and the hands-on projects. We make a nationally awarded magazine each semester, we work with real clients on communication projects and create designs that enhance our portfolio.

Emily Meinhardt

“The ACJ program prepares you to be a well-rounded communicator by requiring classes that will challenge you in different ways. It also provides real-world experience to allow you to put the skills you’ve learned to use.”

Laura Rouw

“I love learning fun facts about my teachers and professors. Dr. Levy Randolph had a snuggie phase. Dr. Katie Burke collects rocks and recently decided to raise chickens. Dr. Ellis played football in middle school and was an offensive lineman (which is funny to anyone who’s seen him).”


Brityne Rucker

“My education prepared me for my future in the biggest way possible. Without the connections I made through my first internship at Kansas State University with K-State Research and Extension, I would have never had my full-time position now in the ag broadcasting industry.”


Taylor Todd

“Don’t be complacent, make connections and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. I strongly believe networking is the most important thing you can do for yourself.”


Allison Wakefield

“Go above and beyond on your assignments. Sometimes it is to easy to get in a rut and just do enough for a good grade, but the projects we do in class can have a lasting impact on your portfolio, and also show that you can do more than just what is asked from you on the rubric.”


Katherine Wist

“Serving as the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow national member relations coordinator has allowed me to see the quality of education and the family culture here at K-State.”




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.