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.
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.
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.
Dr. Lauri M. Baker and Dr. Cheryl Boyer, with the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE), presented their insights on communicating research to communities at the Engagement Symposium. This event was held at the K-State Student Union on April 12.
CREE executive directors, Baker and Boyer, shared their experiences on community engagement with a presentation titled, “Working with Rural Agricultural Businesses to Identify New and Social Media Needs”.
Baker and Boyer spoke about how they engage the community while making progress on research and addressing the communities’ needs. The two also highlighted their recommendations for growing involvement.
The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE) recently hosted the New-Media Marketing Bootcamp at the Bluemont Hotel in Manhattan, Kansas. Small and rural business owners, communication professionals, and K-State Research and Extension employees came together to build social media strategies, while learning new skills and creating content.
Attendees spent a day and a half in breakout sessions where they were guided through the steps to tell their organization narratives and plan content across multiple platforms. “One of the most difficult parts of running a business or serving your community through Extension is finding the time to do everything your job demands,” says Cassie Wandersee (’16), managing director. “At Boot Camp, we provide attendees the time and support to focus on their communications and marketing efforts without daily distractions.”
“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.
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.
As a small-town girl, my trip to the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists (SAAS) Conference in Atlanta was quite an adventure. Despite my shy and nervous nature, seeing the city and learning about research conducted by graduate students and faculty across the region was a great experience. I shared a poster about my undergraduate research findings from my work with Dr. Baker.
Story by Cassie Wandersee (first year graduate student)
Agricultural education and communications graduate students presented two research papers and five posters at the 2015 SAAS (Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists) Conference. Topics ranged from extension communications to undergraduate research experiences. Continue reading “Grad students present at research conference”→
Story by Jennifer Ray, second year master’s student
As you may know, the communications and agricultural education department is now home to graduate students pursuing master’s degrees through both on-campus and distance programs. You may be less familiar with how quickly the program is growing and what kind of issues students are working to solve. Here is a brief update.