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Department of Communications and Agricultural Education

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Interdisciplinary team awarded $2.9 million NSF Research Traineeship grant to strengthen rural communities

By Linda Gilmore, Editor, Publishing Unit

 

Gaea Hock is part of an interdisciplinary team awarded a National Science Foundation grant to train graduate students to help communities address complex issues of water management and rural vitality. Melanie Derby, K-State assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering and Hal and Mary Siegele Professor of Engineering, leads the team. Derby will help meet these challenges by training students to work at the nexus of several disciplines.

 

“The whole goal of interdisciplinary research is that someone else’s perspective makes both your work stronger,” Derby said. “We do fundamental engineering work, but we want it to go to the field. We need to know how to make that happen. One of our goals is to help western Kansas and other semiarid communities be resilient in the future. We need all the components — engineering, agricultural economics, sociology, and more — to solve these important challenges.”

 

Derby and her colleagues will mentor graduate students as they conduct fundamental research in three areas of the crucial food-energy-water system: conservation of and producer relationships with the Ogallala Aquifer, soil-water-microbial systems, and technologies to transform animal waste into energy and water. They also will work to understand engineering, economic, and sociocultural barriers to implementing emerging innovations.

 

Building communication skills and a common vocabulary across disciplines is a crucial aspect of the training. Students will engage with policymakers and attend state legislative sessions in Topeka, plus they will spend time at the Southwest Research-Extension Center in Garden City to research smart water technologies and meet with farmers and others whose livelihoods depend on conserving the aquifer and other resources.

 

In addition to Derby and Matt Sanderson (co-principal investigator and the Randall C. Hill Distinguished Professor of Sociology), the team includes co-investigators Jonathan Aguilar and Stacy Hutchinson, biological and agricultural engineering; Prathap Parameswaran, civil engineering; and David Steward, civil and environmental engineering department, North Dakota State University; educational lead Gaea Hock ’03, ’06, communications and agricultural education; and advisors Nathan Hendricks, agricultural economics, and Ryan Hansen, chemical engineering. The program will train 50 master’s and doctoral students, including 25 funded trainees from the colleges of Agriculture, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering.

Ulmer to be Honored at National FFA Meeting

By Linda Gilmore

Jon Ulmer, associate professor of agricultural education, was selected by the national FFA program to receive the Honorary American FFA Degree. This award is given to those who advance agricultural education and FFA through outstanding personal commitment. The Honorary American FFA Degree recognizes those who have gone beyond valuable daily contributions to make an extraordinary long-term difference in the lives of students, inspiring confidence in a new generation of agriculturists. Ulmer will receive the award at the 2018 National FFA Convention and Expo during an onstage ceremony on Friday, Oct. 26, in Indianapolis. All recipients will receive a certificate and medal, and their names will be permanently recorded. Ulmer currently serves on the National FFA Board of Directors.

Instructor Audrey King pursues Ph.D.

Story by Deanna Reid, master’s student

 

Agricultural communications and journalism instructor, Audrey King, is moving into the next phase of her educational journey and academic career. Audrey left K-State on June 15 to work on a Ph.D. in agricultural education at Oklahoma State University.

Audrey says leaving is bittersweet. “While I’m excited for the next chapter in my career, I know that it would not be possible without my experiences at K-State. I can’t thank the department and everyone in it enough for training me and developing my skills. I hope I can go on to make everyone proud,” she says.

Audrey’s love for teaching undergraduate students began at K-State and has inspired her to pursue a Ph.D. “I am so proud of each of my students and particularly the ACT Club for the hard work they put in all year long. I hope to continue to watch them grow from afar,” she says.

After graduating with her bachelor’s (2013) and master’s degrees (2016) from K-State, Audrey worked in the department assisting with research, advising undergraduate students, advising the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) club, and teaching agricultural communications and journalism courses this past academic year.

 

 

Western Kansas Youth Water Advocates Conference

 

 

Dr. Gaea (Wimmer) Hock (’03, ’06) assisted with the Western Kansas Youth Water Advocates Conference in Garden City, March 23–24.

This conference helps high school FFA members learn more about water issues and develop skills for advocating in their communities. Ten students from six FFA chapters participated in the event.

Dr. Hock taught sessions about considering the target audience and the basics of research. Melissa Poet (’17) and Russell Plaschka co-hosted this conference and served as mentors for students and sponsors for the event. Poet currently teaches agricultural education at Greeley County High School, and Plaschka serves as the Career and Workforce Development Specialist at the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

 

 

CREE presents at Engagement Symposium

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.

The event brought campus researchers together to share their insights and encourage the conversation on how to best address communities’ most pressing issues. It was sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy, the Center for Engagement and Community Development, and the Staley School of Leadership Studies. For more information on the event, you can visit http://www.k-state.edu/cecd/events/symposium/.

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.

Continue reading “CREE presents at Engagement Symposium”

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.

A Year in Review: Agricultural Education

Story by Anissa Zagonel, master’s student

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.

Continue reading “A Year in Review: Agricultural Education”

Alumni Holiday Card Exchange

Here’s a holiday card from us to you. We are thankful to have such a successful and supportive alumni network. We wish you all a wonderful holiday season full of friends, family, and enough time to enjoy each other’s company.

Featured in the front row (from left to right) are Lisa Moser, Steven Harbstreit and Kristina Boone; in the back row are Richard Baker, Lauri Baker, Brandie Disberger, Shannon Washburn and Jason Ellis.

Please send us a digital copy of your family holiday card by December 12, so we can share it in the December newsletter. You can email your photo and holiday message to graduate teaching assistant, Jennifer Ray at jlray@ksu.edu. We can’t wait to hear from you! If you only have a print format available, you can mail it to:

Kansas State University
301 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-4004

Attention Facebook users: If you are not already connected with K-State Agricultural Communications and Journalism (ACJ) or K-State Agricultural Education on Facebook, follow the embedded links to “Like” us.

 

Faculty Collaborate on Global Initiative

Story by Audrey Green, sophomore (ACJ)

Jason Ellis took this photo on a research trip to Guatemala.

“We take a lot of things for granted in our U.S. ag production systems,” says Jason Ellis of his recent trip to Guatemala. Ellis, associate professor of agricultural communications and journalism, and his team are actively working to improve the livelihoods of Guatemalan agriculturalists. The initiative is one of four grants awarded to Kansas State University from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and it aims to reduce post-harvest loss and food waste in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana and Guatamala. Continue reading “Faculty Collaborate on Global Initiative”