Katie Burke, previously Katie Starzec, is one of the many additions to the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education at Kansas State University. Burke will serve as an instructor for the agricultural communications and journalism program and will begin Monday, September 11.
Hannah Fry, junior in AGED, has taken advantage of some great opportunities while in college.
Over the 2017 spring break, Fry traveled to Spain to study abroad. In addition to her primary degree, Fry is minoring in animal science and industry (ASI) and international agriculture, so traveling abroad just made sense. Additionally, Fry speaks Spanish so Spain was an excellent choice.
Snowbird, Utah was the host of this year’s Ag Media Summit and was held over the course of five days, July 22-26. The resort hosted many Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) chapters plus industry professionals and among those were eight of Kansas State University’s very own. Audrey King, ACJ instructor and ACT advisor, and seven students made the trip to Utah and returned with some serious hardware.
“I am just plain proud,” King says. “Not only did the girls represent the organization well at the conference but winning these awards proves they work hard and represent our program really well every single day.”
They were named chapter of the year in the membership, leadership and community service categories. Topping the list of awards was being named this year’s overall outstanding chapter.
The agricultural industry faces many challenges every day and constantly. One issue that may be overlooked by some is the shortage of agriculture teachers available. Like every problem, this too has a solution and the agricultural education program at Kansas State University is taking major leaps to bridging this gap.
The Teach Ag Students of Kansas program, also known as the TASK Force, is a group of agricultural education students that travel the state of Kansas to recruit future agriculture educators. This group was established in the 2015-2016 school year and is now in its third year. Each May, seven new members are selected, while one student carries over into the next year, making it an even eight-member team. The student serving in their second year is tasked with overseeing the other students and is in charge of campus activities.
Jake Rutledge calls Dover, Kansas, home but his passion for agricultural education has taken him elsewhere, Beloit, Kansas, where he currently resides. This recent graduate is the new Agricultural Educator and FFA Advisor at Beloit High School.
Rutledge’s job comes with joys and a few challenges. His greatest task is learning all there is to know about the program and its history, so he can figure out how to move the program into the future. Though the school year hasn’t started yet, he has already been able to work with students, his favorite part thus far.
“I’ve already got to work with students this summer and plan the upcoming year,” Rutledge says. “It is great to see how excited they are for the upcoming year.”
Audrey Schmitz, May 2017 graduate, hails from Axtell, Kansas where she grew up on a dairy farm. This northeast Kansas native has recently moved across the country to Twin Falls, Idaho. She feels right at home at her new job working as an editor for The Progressive Dairymen magazine.
This dairywoman comes from a 90-cow registered Holstein farm and has been surrounded and mentored by many people in the dairy industry since a young age. She has been heavily involved in the industry through 4-H and FFA as a showman and judger. Schmitz now finds herself as a dairy industry professional working with many of the people who have taught and advised her over the years through all her activities.
“My favorite part about my job is working with my mentors and professors and reaching out to them for stories for The Progressive Dairymen,” Schmitz says.
The goal of engaging youth in water education efforts was shared by Grace Roth, an incoming high school sophomore from Holcomb, at the Kansas Association of Agricultural Educators mid-winter conference in January. Dr. Gaea Hock, assistant professor of agricultural education, heard her speak and worked with Roth to make her idea a reality. Katelyn Bohnenblust, rising sophomore in agricultural education, Hock and the Kansas Department of Agriculture, hosted the first Kansas Youth Water Advocates Conference July 12-14 with support from several sponsors.
Eleven high school students attended the three-day conference in Manhattan. Students learned about Kansas water resources and how to advocate on behalf of water-related topics. Several expert speakers presented on topics such as the Ogallala Aquifer, watershed management and the Kansas Water Vision.
The department is getting some exciting additions this summer. Two hiring searches are currently underway and will be completed before the new school year. A new Agricultural Communications and Journalism instructor is being hired, as well as a new research assistant for the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement.
Interviews are currently underway for the new ACJ instructor position. There are two finalists for the position; both are K-State graduates.
Agricultural education student and incoming senior, Alex Tuttle, is the Kansas State Research and Extension intern for Scott County. She is from Plainville, Kansas and is one of the five KSRE interns this summer.
Tuttle primarily works with 4-H youth, which includes attending the county fair, camps and small workshops, but she also has a variety of other projects on her plate. She helps with adult programming for the office and her projects, so far, have included wheat plot tours and Cattleman’s College. Tuttle’s internship calls for behind-the-scenes work as well, where she gathers supplies, creates handouts and emails parents.
Cunningham, Kansas native and incoming senior, Ashley Fitzsimmons, is the Livestock Publications Council intern this summer, which is hosted by the American-International Charolais Association.
She is off and running already where she has been busy helping plan and coordinate the American-International Junior Charolais Association Nationals this June. That is not her only task though, she is also helping produce the summer issues of the Charolais Journal and managing social media. She keeps a hectic schedule with various daily tasks.