I recently came across an article by a former Agriculture Communications student from Auburn University. Although it’s a little dated (written in 2004), I think Anna Pitts’ story of why agriculture communications is important is still extremely relevant. Anna, who grew up around agriculture all her life, shares that she didn’t truly know the importance of agriculture communications until it became her college major. Ag. Comm. students, like Anna, don’t only study communications topics like journalism, public relations and marketing, but they also learn about the many sectors in agriculture such as animal nutrition, agronomy, horticulture and meat science. In her article, Anna said, “My view was magnified as I learned more about farm animals, pruning, commodities and elasticity, soils, the art of landscaping and how governmental laws can affect a farmer.”
As I read about how Anna’s view on agriculture was magnified, her story really hit home for me. Growing up I was always surrounded by agriculture. I had horses, my friends were farmers and I was active in FFA. Before going to school I thought I knew a lot about agriculture. But, once a got to college and enrolled in a diverse set of agricultural courses I realized that there was still so much to learn, and I enjoyed every minute of it. As I began to learn more, I felt compelled to educate others on the importance of agriculture.
After reading Anna Pitts’ story, I realized I’m not alone and there is an overarching theme for students studying agriculture communications. They are passionate about being advocates for agriculture in a society that spits out messages, some true and some not, through a variety of media outlets. In fact, Anna said, “Through conversations with my peers about my different agriculture classes, questions of why I chose agriculture communications as my major and the confused looks I got while studying notes for an agronomy test during my public relations class, I realized how much they didn’t know about agriculture. Those looks, comments and conversations assured me of a definite need for more information communicated to the general public about agriculture.”
In Purdue’s Agriculture Communications program, I am surrounded by students who are advocates for agriculture one way or another. Our specific interests may range anywhere from journalism to sales, but we are all passionate about our diverse industry. I think the job of agricultural communicators was important in 2004, and I believe it will continue to be important for years to come… do you?