Kansas State University


Department of Communications and Agricultural Education

Where are they now? Catch up with master’s graduates

Story by Jackie Newland, senior (ACJ)

Being a graduate student at Kansas State University can be hard work, but what about life after? Graduates of the Master of Science in Agricultural Education and Communication graduate program have found themselves busier than ever in their new careers.

Lana Barkmann, who completed her master’s in 2013, was the first student to complete the graduate program. Barkmann is originally from Effingham, Kansas, and acquired her undergraduate degree at K-State in animal science.

Barkmann noted that there are pros and cons to being the first to go through a new graduate degree but that it was an amazing experience.

“Some of the best parts are the diversity in the program as well as the amount of research you can do. I feel like you get a good grasp on the industry as well,” says Barkmann. “One of the hardest parts is the amount of demand of being strung different directions and meeting different deadlines in different areas which I think is with any graduate position.”

Since completing her academic career at K-State, Barkmann has been busy in her career with Great Plains Grazing.

“We are getting to release a series called enterprise flexibility which is a project that includes short videos that different collaborators have put together to help producers across the southern great-plains region mitigate weather variability on their ranches,” says Barkmann.

Recent graduate, Jessie Topp, completed her degree in the spring of 2015. Before entering the graduate program at K-State, Topp received her undergraduate degree at North Dakota State. Since graduation, Topp has returned to North Dakota as the new marketing manager at Custom Marketing Company where she has been tackling a multitude of projects.

“As part of my new position I sell grain bins and manage supplies as well as set up trade shows to make sure we have a strong presence. I also do advertising design and publications as well as manage social media,” says Topp.

On top of an already hectic schedule, Topp also manages internal communications including the newsletters and marketing materials for the company. Topp noted that her work keeps her busy but that is has been really good and she is enjoying it.

When looking back at her time at K-State, Topp mentioned that it is hard to pick one thing that she loved about the graduate program. She noted that she made valuable relationships that she can still use and that she loved the amount of research and hands on experience that she involved in.

Topp emphasized what an outstanding graduate degree program is and that she is thankful for the experience. She is happy to have had the opportunity to go through the program and said it was certainly worth while.

Another recent graduate of 2015 is Jennifer Ray. Ray returned to her home state of California and has begun working as the communications coordinator for California Ag in the Classroom.

“My job requires me to promote programs and events, manage the monthly newsletter and website, social media, and to get everything ready for annual conference where we invite teachers from across the state to incorporate ag in their classroom,” says Ray.

Ray mentions that being a part of the close nit group of faculty and staff with in the graduate program, which was one of the most rewarding parts of her time at K-State. The graduate program has made a beneficial impact on her career as well as others. It is great to see the successes that have been achieved by young individuals from the ACJ graduate degree program.

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