Kansas State University


Department of Communications and Agricultural Education

Category: 2016

New Faculty Members

Jon Ulmer
Dr. Jonathan Ulmer

Dr. Jonathan Ulmer joined the faculty of Agricultural Education with twenty years of experience in Ag Ed. After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with his teaching certificate in Ag Ed had taught secondary Ag at Medicine Valley High School in Curtis, NE for four years. Moving on to Oklahoma State University to complete his Master’s in Ag Ed where he also met his wife, Ann.

The next stop in life was the University of Missouri-Columbia to complete his Ph.D. in Ag Ed. After completing his degree he stayed in Missouri to work as the Professional Development Specialist for the Ag teachers of Missouri. This position allowed Dr. Ulmer to travel around the state and meet the needs of teachers through workshops, institutes, and the state mentor/induction program.

In 2008, Ann and Jon moved to Lubbock, TX where he worked as a faculty member in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications. Dr. Ulmer’s primary focus was on teacher preparation, teaching classes from Intro to Student Teaching. Their eight years in Lubbock also allowed Jon and Ann to adopt their two children, Nevaeh and Zaden, who are currently five and three. While Dr. Ulmer will be teaching slightly different classes at K-State, the goal is still the same, work with a great team of faculty to develop the best agriculture teachers possible. Ann has a background in Agricultural business and economics and is a Grant Specialist in the College of Engineering. The Ulmer family is looking forward to spending time in the state parks and lakes around the area and preparing their children to start school and become Wildcats!


Dr. Gaea (Wimmer) Hock
hock photoGaea (Wimmer) Hock was born and raised in Bourbon County, Kansas. She attended Jayhawk-Linn High School and found her passion for agriculture as a member of the FFA chapter.  She graduated Kansas State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Education in 2003.  She taught high school agriculture at Centre High School for 6 years.  While teaching, she completed a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from KSU in 2006.  In 2009, the opportunity arose to serve as an instructor in agricultural leadership at Texas Tech University and complete a Ph.D. in Agricultural Communications and Education.  As an instructor and graduate student at TTU, she enhanced her teaching and leadership skills.  After graduation, she moved to Starkville, MS and served as an Assistant Professor in Agricultural Education at Mississippi State University for four years.  It was always her dream to return to Kansas State University as an Agricultural Education professor and was thrilled to be given that opportunity.
Dr. Hock’s research interests include intent to teach agriculture, agricultural literacy, and innovative teaching techniques/strategies.  She is eager to increase the number of undergraduate researchers in the major.  There are many exciting opportunities in Kansas. She is looking forward to working with the agricultural education support team in Kansas.  The Kansas agricultural education teachers, FFA members, and professional organizations all work together to make a positive impact on the Kansas agriculture industry.
Dr. Hock enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family.  Her husband Matthew is finishing his PhD in agronomy from Mississippi State University. They are the proud parents of daughter Corabel (born March 28) who is excited to be living on a small farm in rural Dickinson County.


Global Food Systems Leadership Finds a Home in the Department of Communications and Ag Education

IMG_3197By: Jeremy D’Angelo

The Kansas State University Department of Communications and Agricultural Education will be adding Global Food Systems Leadership as an interdisciplinary secondary major this coming academic year.

The major is an interdisciplinary effort between the College of Agriculture, College of Education, and College of Arts and Sciences, Department Head Dr. Kris Boone said. “We came together with leadership studies and political sciences and developed this proposal for this secondary major.”

Boone is the Director of the program and the new major will reside in the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education.

“A secondary major is bigger than a minor because more credit hours are required for it, but smaller than a major and it can not be a students only major,” Boone said. “One of the philosophical tenants of the leadership faculty is that leadership should be applied in context to where an individual works and is why the major is not a primary major.”

The major requires taking three core classes for a total of nine credit hours, six credit hours related to food and agriculture for a basic introduction into the subject area, and an additional nine credit hours in a chosen area of concentration. Students are also required to stay in a non-credit seminar for three semesters.

According to Boone, “We try to make it where people from all over campus can find a way to get into it [the major].”

The startup costs for the program are being covered by a generous donation of $100,000 from Frontier Farm Credit Services with half the money being set aside for student scholarships in future years.

Boone hopes that this program will appeal to students who want to differentiate themselves, are interested in international work, or are interested in community action work.

“The idea is that we get our students engaged with other people, increasing their tolerance for differences of opinion, and enriching their understanding of how other people view food,” Boone said.

The major is available now, but the program will not start accepting students until spring.


K-State Hosts CASE Conference for Ag Ed Teachers

By: Jeremy D’Angelo

CASEKansas State University Department of Communications and Agricultural Education faculty and staff hosted a Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) Conference this past summer where 16 teachers and a K-State instructor became certified in Agriculture Food and Natural Resources curriculum.

According to Dr. John Ulmer, K-State Ag Education faculty member, CASE is a national curriculum program that teaches agricultural instructors agricultural education curriculum and certifies them in different agricultural curriculum topics. This year’s topic was Agriculture Food and Natural Resources which Brandie Disberger, K-State Ag Ed Instructor, became certified in.

Ulmer and Disberger were the main organizers of this year’s workshop. However, the department has hosted a workshop every summer for the past 7 years, Disberger said.

“Once they got here, I turned into a participant and Dr. Ulmer turned into the host,” Disberger said. “We have a variety of areas within CASE and I became certified in Agriculture Food and Natural Resources (AFNR) this summer, which is predominantly the introductory course for most students to take in agriculture and honestly in the CASE curriculum.”

The course was around seven days long, costs around $2500, and included the participant’s food, lodging, and conference expenses, Ulmer said.

According the Ulmer, facilitators are typically current agricultural education instructors who are certified in the curriculum. This year’s workshop enlisted the help of two facilitators from Colorado and Tennessee who are certified in AFNR through CASE.

“The philosophy of CASE is that the best way to implement it [the curriculum] is to get people trained in it before they do it,” Ulmer said. “Rather than buying a curriculum and just using it you [teachers] get trained and then you get the curriculum.”

“Being able to go through the curriculum will now allow me to support teachers across the state who are certified,’ Disberger said.

The cool part is that once you are certified you are in that particular curriculum you are certified for life and just get the new curriculum when they [CASE] revise it every few years, Ulmer said. You don’t have to get recertified.

This year’s certification was in AFNR, last year both Agriculture Power and Technology and Principals of Agricultural Science – Plant were offered, but we don’t know yet what next year’s topic will be, Ulmer said. We [K-State] will decide this fall after talking to CASE and should know by November or December if we will offer one or two conferences and what topics we will teach.


Ag Comm Alumni Update

Katie Rohling

Katie Rohling headshotKatie Rohling, Agriculture Education and Communications alumni, is currently a 4-H Youth Development Agents for the Wildcat Extension District in Southeast Kansas. Rohling is a Southeast Kansas native who attended Coffeyville Community College before transferring to Kansas State University. At K-State she received her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Communication and Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences in 2014. She then went on to complete her Master’s degree in Agricultural Education and Communications in 2016. After graduation she moved to Girard, Kansas to pursue her dream of working with children and teaching the general public about agriculture as a 4-H Youth Development Agent for the Wildcat Extension District, K-State Research and Extension.

Rohling completed her first fair as the 4-H Youth Development Agent August 7, 2016 and enjoyed all the challenges and successes that come with the county fair. She is working to establish livestock judging teams and a sense of community with youth of Crawford county and the Wildcat Extension District. Reflecting upon her time as a graduate student Rohling indicated graduate school provided a time to network within the agriculture industry and grow professionally. Camaraderie established within K-State graduate group are something Rohling highly values and appreciates. Tight graduate school deadlines prepared Rohling to handle stressful situations in the workplace. While obtaining her master’s degree Rohling worked as a graduate teaching assistant, which she states was one of her most memorable experiences. The experience gave Rohling a greater appreciation for what it takes to educate youth and increased her desire to work with today’s youth.


Jennifer Ray

RayJennifer Ray is the communications coordinator for the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. Ray is a California native who earned her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Communications at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo in 2013. She went on to complete her Master’s degree at Kansas State University in Agricultural Education and Communication in 2015. After graduation, she moved to Sacramento, California, where she started her work to help educate teachers and students about agriculture.

Ray has now completed her first year with the Foundation, where she has coordinated the launch of a new website, and is working to boost the organization’s reach and influence among California educators. Ray’s role includes everything from writing social media posts, e-newsletter content, donor renewal letters and reports; performing survey evaluations; and coordinating the annual story-writing contest.

She notes the diverse experience she gained as a graduate teaching assistant at K-State prepared her to prioritize tasks and communicate effectively in wide variety of situations. The precise language she developed through research writing and teaching has helped her to articulate instructions and edits to website and graphic designers. Ray values the friends she made at K-State, and remembers department culture as fun and supportive.


Ag Ed Alumni Update

Tara Lohse

LohseI am from Fallbrook, California. I transferred to Kansas State in the fall of 2012, from Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California. I graduated from Kansas State May of 2015.

I am currently teaching at Rawlins County High School, in Atwood Kansas. I teach in a very rural community in the far Northwest corner of the state. In the classroom I try to give a wide range of choices for the students to have in classes, career development events, and leadership activities to choose from. Coming in as a new teacher I felt that the possibilities were endless, because I have the upmost support from the administration, parents and community to uphold the tradition of the program. The classes that I offer are Agriculture Mechanics, Agriculture Leadership, Introduction to Agriculture, Food Science, Horticulture, Advanced Welding and Agriculture OJT.

I am really enjoying teaching so far! I feel that I was prepared throughout my time at K-State and during student teaching at Fort Scott. Every day is a new challenge, and no day is ever the same! It is great having such a supportive administration, teaching staff, parents and students!

Katelyn Meiwes

meiwesMy name is Katelyn Meiwes, and I am from Moran, Kansas. I graduated from K-State in Spring 2015. Currently, I am the agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor at Altoona-Midway Middle/High School.

We have a good variety of classes in our agricultural education program. Those offered this school year include Ag Explorations (Middle School), Ag Science, Animal Science, Food Science, Ag Welding , and Ag Fabrication. In addition, we are active in the community by holding Food for America, a Pancake Breakfast, and Elementary Ag Day–just to name a few.

Agricultural education has allowed me to combine my two passions: agriculture and working with youth. I have enjoyed sharing my knowledge of agriculture with students as well as watching them succeed and grow as individuals and am looking forward to the many opportunities that lie ahead.



K-State Hosts STEC Food and Nutrition Science Institute Workshop for Ag Teachers

STECHow can a high-school teacher convince students that food science is important, interesting, and a serious career path? These were some of the questions posed in July as more than 50 Family and Consumer Science, Agriculture, and Science teachers from Kansas and Nebraska made the annual pilgrimage to Kansas State University for the fifth annual STEC* Food and Nutrition Science Institute workshop.

In previous years, teachers attended the workshop to receive training in the Problem Based Learning teaching method, as well as training in how to implement the curriculum. Using the feedback provided each year, the curriculum was amended, improved, and eventually finalized in 2015. The 2016 workshop ran under a new format, where first-time attendees and attendees from the previous four years attended different sessions to address their needs and history with the three-course curriculum.

Nine returning teachers served as facilitators to lead the sessions in order to increase authenticity of instruction. Each group of teachers, first-time and returning, was scheduled to complete the same labs and activities from the curriculum. The focus for new teachers was to learn the curriculum, while the focus for returning teachers was to discuss options for implementing the curriculum and share “troubleshooting” and “best practices” ideas to keep students engaged in the learning process. Teachers left the workshop with a supply kit to help teach the curriculum in the coming school year, as well as with a new support network of teachers they can reach out to if needed. The workshop was a success and facilitators and teachers alike look forward to next summer’s workshop in Lincoln, Neb.


*The U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) grant, titled Shiga-toxigenicEscherichia coli (STEC) in the Beef Chain: Assessing and Mitigating the Risk by Translational Science, Education and Outreach, seeks to significantly advance evidence- and action-based beef food safety knowledge to protect public health. This project is targeting the eight most important STEC serotypes that cause human illness in the U.S. The grant has 5 objectives; Objective 5 concerns Risk Management and Education and focuses on training the current and future workforce and consumers to control STEC. To train the current and future workforce, a team comprising of staff from Kansas State and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln have developed a curriculum for secondary education –programs to gain access to the students who are in these classrooms.


Department Awards

Faculty and students were able to attend multiple conferences this summer. Below are a summary of their awards from the Association for Communication Excellence Conference and the Ag Media Summit.

Association for Communication Excellence Conference

IMG_2360Best Thesis- Jennifer Ray (recent graduate alumni)

Best Thesis Proposal- Cassie Wandersee (recent graduate alumni)

Best Research Poster- Jeremy D’Angelo (current graduate student)

Research Award of Excellence- Dr. Lauri Baker (current faculty member)

Outstanding Research Paper Runner-Up- McKayla Brubaker (recent undergraduate alumni)



Ag Media Summit

ag media summitChapter of the Year Membership- K-State ACT Club

Chapter of the Year Social- K-State ACT Club

Jim Evans Scholarship Finalist- Audrey Schmitz

Forrest Bassford Finalist- Audrey Green

National ACT Critique Award (Writing)- Audrey Schmitz

National ACT Critique Award (Web Design)- Jill Seiler

Second Place Magazine Publication- K-State Agriculturalist


Second Annual Farm to Fork 5K Scheduled for April 16. Sign up now!

The Kansas State University Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow Club (ACT) is excited to announce the 2nd annual Farm to Fork 5K April 16. The race will kick off the K-State Open House and honor this year’s theme “Rooted in Purple” through highlighting agriculture in the State.


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Students, Faculty, and Alumni 2016 SAAS Conference: A Reflection on Graduate Student Experience

Story by Cassie Wandersee, (master’s student)

When I accepted a position as a graduate teaching and research assistant nearly two years ago, I did not fully understand what communications research in the agricultural industry would look like. After being assigned my first literature review for a research project it seemed I was in over my head.


Newsletter image
K-State students, faculty, and alumni attended the SAAS 2016 conference. Pictured left to right: (back) Jeremy D’Angelo, Katie Rohling, Gina Nixon, Dr. Lauri Baker, Cassie Wandersee, Audrey King. (front) MCKayla Brubaker, Lindsay Graber, Courtney Meyers











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Kansas State University Students Attend National ACT Professional Development Conference

Story by Audrey Schmitz, junior (ACJ)

“Your knowledge is nothing if you do not share it” – John Romo, AgriCorps Speaker

On January 14, three KSU students traveled to Oklahoma State University for the annual National ACT Professional Development Conference. There students listened to educational and motivational speakers, attended workshops and interacted with ACT members from different universities.

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