Story by Eryn Carter, junior (ACJ)
When it comes to pasture management, Audrey King is now the expert. Graduating in May with her master’s degree in agricultural communications, King is on the last leg of her graduate thesis research project.
Funded through Great Plains Grazing, an organization that focuses on research and extension of the grazing practices to create strategies for changing circumstances, her thesis focused on discovering the barriers and social constraints related to the non-adoption of best management practices in grazing systems.
Through 43 interviews throughout Kansas and Oklahoma, King gathered qualitative data on better land management and how to get more out of it. This included environmental stewardship, sustainable practices, and ways to make landowners the most money in the long run.
Her conclusion confirmed that each landowner’s practices relied heavily on personal preference and traditions, affecting the amount of advice they take from research and extension agencies to put into practice. The research was the most difficult part for King, being gone to conduct interviews in two different states was extremely time consuming.
However, she found that her undergraduate degree from K-State in agricultural communications really helped her be successful. “I think one of the things that I found to be helpful was talking to all different kinds of people and framing your communication differently depending on your audience,” says King.
She also said she was able to put the theories and skills she learned as an undergraduate into practice in a real life situation.
As far as advice for future graduate students, she advices picking a topic that they will really enjoy and are interested in.
After graduation, King hopes to publish the results of her research publicly. She enjoyed her thesis topic so much that she also hopes to get a Ph.D. in relation to research and extension, specifically extension communication with producers. She says, “We don’t always think about the producers and the tools that they need to be successful. I would like to be producer focused in the future.”