In the basement of Umberger lies the K-State Research and Extension Bookstore and Mail Center, which supports both KSRE and the College of Agriculture by managing and distributing more than 2,000 publications, promotional materials, and other items.
Publications are available online and available in print for a small fee. These items can all be accessed through the bookstore website, www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu.
“Our publications are a great resource for a variety of topics,” says Mandy Wilson, KSRE Bookstore and Mail Center Coordinator. “We have information ranging from planning your home garden, to choosing the right childcare provider, to just identifying that spider on your porch.”
The featured publication for October is the Kansas Garden Guide – an 80-page guide to all things vegetables and herbs. This guide has everything you need to know about soil, compost, seeding, watering, pest control, container gardening, season extension, harvesting, and storing.
Jill Seiler, senior in agricultural communication and journalism (ACJ), has been involved in Kansas State University’s Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT), a club for ACJ students, for four years, holding an officer position for three years.
“Since freshman year, I’ve been involved with ACT. It’s definitely been the place where I’ve put my energy during college,” says Seiler. “I’ve seen the value from the very beginning of my college career, whether it was meeting industry professionals or getting to meet other fabulous students. There are awesome people in ACT, which is why I’m involved.”
At the local level, Seiler has been the Public Relations Director, Vice President of Development and is currently the President of K-State’s ACT. She says that it’s been a great way to take on a leadership role in college. In high school, she was very involved in activities and coming into college she felt like she needed something to continue practicing her leadership.
“I’m definitely a different leader now than I was then,” says Seiler. “I enjoy being able to give back to the organization and to see how things change from year to year.”
Seiler says the reason she ran for president because she feels like she has many ideas to contribute to the organization and wants students to gain skills through ACT that they can use to succeed in industry. Whether students attend a photography workshop and learn how to take better photos or network and meet potential employers for internships and careers, Seiler hopes students gain skills they might not be able to get in the classroom and go on and succeed in life.
“We’ve had a legacy of being a very prestigious chapter,” says Seiler. “I want to be part of continuing that tradition and getting freshman, sophomores, juniors and transfers alike excited about our major and club. I believe this club can augment and work parallel with our major and increase what you take out of college. Being able to help students see the value; that’s why I’m president and why I’m part of ACT.”
In the summer of 2017 in Snowbird, Utah, members of K-State’s ACT went to the national meeting of ACT held in conjunction with the national meeting of American Agricultural Editors’ Association, the Livestock Publications Council, and the Connectiv Agri-Media Committee at Ag Media Summit. Seiler was elected to the National ACT Officer Board as Vice President. K-State ACT won many Chapter of the Year awards and many Critique and Contest awards. Seiler says it was a good opportunity to showcase how awesome our K-State chapter is.
“Alumni were so excited for us and just to see their enthusiasm and how excited they were, made all of the late hours this year and past year all worth it,” says Seiler. “We want to win because it makes the alumni proud, and that’s a really awesome feeling.”
Seiler wants to be part of the legacy for ACT and is very thankful of the people who have come before her and put together the constitution and set up a structure for the organization.
“I remember being a freshman and looking up to the seniors who were in the major and club,” says Seiler. “I appreciate everything they have done for us and laid out for the organization. We wouldn’t be a national winning organization without the foundation we have set up by our alumni.”
Graduating from college is no easy feat, but for one agricultural education alumnus, it just wasn’t enough. Will Johnson (’17) has went above and beyond after graduation from Kansas State University.
After student teaching in the spring of 2017 at Cimarron High School, he took a leap and accepted a job as a teacher at Sublette High School, a nearby school that didn’t have an FFA program – that quickly changed.
During the summer, Johnson converted the essentially unused shop from storage to a working environment and began paperwork to start an FFA program at the school.
Johnson, a Whitewater, Kansas, native, says, “I really like the area and the people out here. It seemed like a chance to start something new for the community.”
This fall he is teaching an introduction to agriculture class for eighth graders and an agriculture, food, and natural resources class; an animal science class; and an agricultural structures class for high school students. In the future, he hopes to add a plant and soil science class and research in agriculture class to the curriculum.
Mikhayla DeMott, the newly hired audience engagement specialist for the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE), serves many roles. Agricultural communicator, Kansas State University alumna, and Miss Rodeo Kansas.
DeMott understands the need to connect agricultural based, rural businesses to information and research on new-media technology. She will foster that connection in her position at the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement through event planning, client outreach, media relations, and content creation.
“I’m very excited to see CREE grow this year under the vision of our newly hired director, Cassie Wandersee, and staff,” DeMott says.
She graduated (’17) with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and journalism with minors in mass communications and leadership studies from K-State. DeMott’s passion for agriculture was developed at a young age and still continues to grow. She grew up on a horse farm in Rio, Illinois, and discovered the joy in sharing the story of agriculture through rodeo.
A little over a year ago, Dr. Gaea (Wimmer) Hock (’03, ’06) and Dr. Jonathan Ulmer joined the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education as agricultural education faculty.
Throughout the past year, these two have been busy preparing students to go back into the classroom as teachers, adding technology into their projects, and igniting positive change within the program. One prominent change they are working on together, with the help of instructor Brandie Disberger, is to revise the agricultural education curriculum credit hours and add three new courses to the program.
In addition to teaching courses, Hock also offers opportunities for students to conduct undergraduate research projects regarding agricultural education and FFA programs in the state. Furthermore, she intends to lead a study abroad trip to the Czech Republic in the future.
The agricultural education program has more opportunities than ever, and students are noticing.
The Department of Communications and Agricultural Educations is excited to announce a partnership with the Staley School of Leadership Studies and the Department of Communications Studies to offer a Doctorate of Philosophy in Leadership Communication coming in the fall of 2018.
“We are excited about the collaboration between our departments as we launch the interdisciplinary PhD,” says Dr. Lauri Baker, Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education.
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.