To kick off the summer, 11 students traveled to the Czech Republic. The diverse group ranged from graduate to undergraduate level with academic majors from feed science to agricultural economics, the majority being agricultural education majors. This 12-day intensive study abroad trip was led by Gaea (Wimmer) Hock ’03, ’06, associate professor.
During their time abroad, students were introduced to agricultural production management and processing practices and cultural aspects of the country. Students visited a crop research facility, private vegetable farms, a vineyard, dairy and beef cattle operations, hop farms and a brewery, university and vocational schools, and governmental agencies.
Agricultural education student Zach Callaghan says, “My favorite moments during the trip were the spontaneous, unplanned experiences where we got to tap into our natural sense of adventure. It seemed that every corner you turned, there was an abundance of history and something new to discover.”
Throughout the spring semester, attendees prepared for this trip through weekly meetings to get acquainted with Czech history, culture, and agriculture. In addition, the group was also able to meet and converse with Czech students studying abroad at K-State about their upcoming trip.
For more details about their stops while abroad and to see more about their adventures, “Czech” out their blog link at experienceagricultureabroad.wordpress.com.
The communications and agricultural education department hosted the “Tagged to Teach Ag” event on April 30. This event brought more than 250 FFA members from high schools across the state to the Manhattan campus to learn more about what it means to be an agricultural educator.
Current Kansas State University agricultural education students and faculty gave presentations about the program and future career options. Information about the agricultural education degree and other K-State programs was also available.
FFA members also enjoyed ice cream from Call Hall and fresh cookies from the grain science and industry department while they played interactive games, collected “ag swag” and prizes and took photos with Willie the Wildcat at the “Tagged to Teach Ag” photo booth.
“We would like to give special thanks to the ag ed students, FFA advisors and presenters for making this a great event,” said Instructor Brandie Disberger, one of the event organizers. “We hope everyone considers teaching ag as a career!”
Over spring break, 22 students traveled throughout Kansas to take pictures as part of an agricultural communications and journalism photography class. This is the first year the photography class was offered in our department to give students an applied photography experience in agriculture and natural resources. The photography tour was held March 17-20.
Students prepared for the trip by meeting each week to learn about photography and get accustomed to their own cameras.
During the tour, students explored cattle operations, farms, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, the Chase County State Lake, small businesses, small town downtown areas, and other outdoor venues.
The class displayed their work in a photography showcase in early April. Furthermore, University Printing will be printing calendars with all of the best photos from the class and will be available for purchase in the fall.
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.
The Agricultural Education Club and the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) club each hosted a booth at the university-wide K-State Open House on Saturday, April 7. These booths were among many in the College of Agriculture (COA) “hub,” where several other agricultural student organizations hosted booths.
The weather wasn’t ideal, so the agricultural organizations’ booths were housed inside Waters Hall. However, it didn’t stop alumni, kids, or students from visiting campus for this fun weekend event.
The AgEd Club coordinated the COA Scavenger Hunt with the help of Matthew Schick, a junior in agricultural education, who spearheaded the event for the club. He gathered donations from 13 different organizations to sponsor over 300 printed t-shirts. Individuals who visited the booth and completed the scavenger hunt earned a free t-shirt, while student volunteers passed out scavenger hunt cards and t-shirts.
K-State agricultural education student teaching interns recently participated in two days of professional development for the Ag Ed Enhancing Pre-Service Instruction (EPIC) Experience sponsored by Kansas Corn Commission. Students were able to tour and talk with various production agricultural sectors in Garden City, Kansas.
During the tour, students:
visited Royal Farms Dairy and learned from Kyle Averhoff about the farm’s story, goals, and the role of corn in the dairy industry;
toured Bonanza Ethanol Plant, where Jeff Gilbert and colleagues spoke about the ethanol industry and their Garden City plant;
visited Reeve Cattle Co., where the Reeve family discussed their use of ethanol, feed distillers grains, and other corn feedstuffs in their cattle operation;
visited the K-State Research and Extension Southwest Research Station, where Dwane and Grace Roth, Mike Meyer, and Michael Kempke discussed water issues in southwest Kansas and emerging technologies for sustainable water use;
heard perspectives from individual corn producers, Russell Komlofske, Kyler Millershaski, and Jeff Mai;
visited Sublette High School agricultural education teacher, Will Johnson who shared advice for starting a new agricultural education program and beginning careers as educators;
and visited Cimarron High School agricultural education teacher Ryan Miller who spoke to students about the importance of positive community relationships to create successful agricultural education programs.
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.
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.
Categories of speeches included freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, creed, and extemporaneous.