Kansas State University


Department of Communications and Agricultural Education

Tag: Department of Communications and Agricultural Education

March ACT Activities

Story by Anissa Zagonel, master’s student

The Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow were busy during the month of March with social activities and philanthropic efforts.

Officers hosted a “Paint Your Own Flower Pot” party for members to prepare for Spring. Students designed their own terracotta pots while enjoying snacks and sweets. All enjoyed a relaxing, fun evening while learning about upcoming events on the club’s schedule like K-State Open House, Ag Media Summit, NACTA Ag Media Team, and fundraising opportunities.

“During this social, I loved seeing how creative members got when designing their flower pots, while also being productive and hearing about our events,” says Leah Giess, ACT Officer.

In addition to social activities, members have also been busy working with the Flint Hills Breadbasket. Flint Hills Breadbasket’s mission is to minimize hunger and poverty through the distribution of available food and to nurture projects that will help alleviate hunger and poverty. As part of ACT’s philanthropic efforts, members design and prepare a newsletter for mailing. ACT member, Ashley Fitzsimmons designed the newsletter, and ACT members and officers prepared over 1,500 newsletters for distribution by tabbing and labeling.

“Our club loves supporting such an amazing organization that does so much for our community, and we enjoy getting to use our skills and knowledge to help them with their duties,” says Giess.

Department Feature – Bridging the Gap Between Researchers and Producers

Story by Grace Wilcox, freshman (ACJ)

“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.

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AgEd Club hosts annual speech contest

Story by Anissa Zagonel, master’s student

At the beginning of February, the AgEd Club hosted their annual KSU Speech Contest in Bluemont Hall. There were over 180 Kansas FFA members competing and 45 K-State students helping throughout the day.

Volunteers for the contest show off the t-shirt for the event.

Categories of speeches included freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, creed, and extemporaneous.

Kansas FFA members pose with a Willie the Wildcat cutout at the contest.

Department well represented at 2018 SAAS Conference

Story by Ashley Fitzsimmons, senior (ACJ)

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.

Department celebrates Employees of the Year and Groundhog Dag

Story by Anissa Zagonel, master’s student

The department congratulates Rick Butler and Phylicia Mau as Department Employees of the Year through a nomination and review process. Each received a plaque, and their names have been added to the plaques in the conference room in the main office.

Butler (’93), who works for University Printing, reviews customer-pro

vided electronic files before plate output, completes customer-requested design work, and provides prepress design consultation for clients.

Mau is a part of the publishing in the department and provides clien

ts with graphic design assistance, including page layouts, logos, artwork, posters, electronic publications, and other visual displays. She creates designs and images for print and electronic use.

These awards were announced at the Groundhog Day breakfast celebration. Pancakes and sausages were enjoyed by all.



Alumni and Department Feature: The Person Behind the Edits

Story by Kaci Foraker, freshman (ACJ)

Although Amanda Tomlinson did not initially plan on a career in agricultural communications, the field has given her many opportunities.

Tomlinson has been working as an editor for the Publishing Unit in the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education for the past two years. She edits and publishes research reports created by Kansas State University faculty.

The faculty that she edits for receive research funds from the Kansas Agriculture Experiment Station, which include agricultural experiment stations located throughout the state.  Before these faculty submit publications to outside journals and papers, she reviews the manuscripts to ensure correct formatting and grammar.

“My role is helping faculty get their message out there by editing, printing and publishing their work so that farmers, producers, and others can read the material,” says Tomlinson.

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Dr. Jason Ellis named new department head

Story by Anissa Zagonel, master’s student

After a successful national search, the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education has chosen Dr. Jason Ellis (‘98) for the Department Head position. He previously held the Interim Department Head position, and his new position appointment began January 14.

Dr. Ellis completed his undergraduate degree in agricultural communications and journalism at K-State and has been with the department for almost seven years as an associate professor in agricultural communications. He brings a wealth of knowledge, ideas, and energy to the department.

“This department is full of great faculty, staff, and students who work hard everyday to make it successful,” says Ellis. “I encourage alumni to not just offer their time and talent but to bring us ideas to help us continue down the path of excellence.”


Department Students Join in Forum for Inclusion in the College of Agriculture

Story by Anissa Zagonel, master’s student

Communications and Agricultural Education students joined others across the College of Agriculture to discuss why diversity matters in the college. This student-led forum was standing-room-only in the Leadership Studies’ Town Hall.

The crowd included Dean John Floros, assistant and associate deans, department chairs, and faculty. Industry partners were also present like Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Cargill, and other stakeholders.

The discussion began with the statement, “Diversity is our reality. Inclusion is our goal.”

ACJ student, Bryanna Cook speaks up during college-wide diversity forum.

Two ACJ students, Bryanna Cook and Kyler Langvardt, were brave enough to speak out against hate and stand up for inclusion.

Cook, a junior ACJ student, spoke up saying, “We are a K-State family, and we need to act like it.”


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Opportunities for Alumni Through CREE’s Outreach Events

Story by  Michaela Hughes, sophomore (ACJ)

The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE) is advancing its mission through outreach and training events on marketing and communications for audiences throughout Kansas and beyond. These events range from webinars and Facebook live videos to seminars and the annual New-Media Marketing Boot Camp.

“We remain focused on empowering people to feel comfortable using new-media marketing tools. Whether it’s Facebook, a newsletter, or a blog, we want people to understand the platforms they working in,” says Cassie Wandersee (’16), managing director of CREE.

Recently, CREE collaborated with partner organizations to host several events and webinars.

One of these partnerships is with the Marketing Learning Community of the Association for Communications Excellence (ACE). CREE began working with ACE to host bi-monthly webinars that focus on training participants in communications theory and practice. During the last webinar, they discussed content strategy and planning for small businesses and service organizations.

Co-creater, Dr. Cheryl Boyer and Managing Director, Cassie Wandersee presenting at the K-State Research and Extension Annual Conference.

CREE has also partnered with K-State Research and Extension. Dr. Cheryl Boyer and Wandersee presented on content strategy and communicating through multiple channels at the K-State Research and Extension Annual Conference in November. It is also working with Kansas Pride on an online seminar in January focused on launching e-commerce stores. This webinar will discuss the benefits, as well as the preparation needed, for creating an online store.

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Department Takes Part in K-State Unity Walk

Story by Anissa Zagonel, master’s student

Some faculty, staff and students of the department attended the KSUnity Walk on Tuesday, November 14 from 1-3 p.m. During the walk, participants came from their respective campus buildings and met on Anderson Hall’s lawn. Then, the KSUnite program took place. Participants heard a message of unity and steps that all K-Staters can take as the community moves forward to be an ever more inclusive campus.

Thoughts from department members that attended:

“I was impressed by the turnout of people that attended.” – Kelly Ingalsbe, accountant

“It was neat that despite the weather there was still a sizeable turnout of attendees.” – Audrey King, instructor

“It was a really awesome sight to see so many K-Staters in purple and on the lawn.” – Lori Buss, accountant

“K-State’s unity walk was a step in the right direction toward making everyone on campus feel like family. It was nice to see mobs of purple supporting the event.” – Dr. Katie Burke, instructor