Beginning a New Chapter

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know that it was started as a class project. And as May begins, and the semester comes to an end, so does my project.

Before starting “Boiler Ag Talk,” I didn’t know much about blogging, and to be honest, I was pretty nervous to write for an unidentified audience. But nearly forty posts later, I can’t help but think how happy I am that I was able to share agricultural stories from around Purdue University, Indiana, and across the country.

As I write this final post, I am thankful for all of the viewers who took the time to read a post, and my followers who came back more than once. I will be graduating one week from today with my Bachelor’s in Agricultural Communication. I’m not sure how much free time I will have, however if I get a chance I’ll try to make an updated post.

But, for now, this is Brooke Fruits signin’ off!

Hands-on opportunities at Purdue

As a college student, a lot of time is spent inside the classroom. But there is nothing better than taking what you have learned and putting toward hands-on work experience.  One way to do that is through research.  At Purdue University, there are many avenues for students to get involved in research, and for students in the College of Agriculture, one of those opportunities is at the Animal Sciences Research and Education Center (ASREC).

Located ten miles northwest of campus, the ASREC sits on 1,515 acres of land and has eleven operating units. These units include:

  • Aquaculture
  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Poultry
  • Sheep
  • Swine
  • Farm Operations
  • Feed Mill
  • USDA-ARS Livestock Behavior Research Unit Lab
  • Little Pine Watershed
  • Wetlands Study

As stated on the ASREC website, the mission of the ASREC is, “to provide animals, facilities, technical assistance and labor to conduct research, provide instruction, and assist in extension educational activities.”

Not only does each unit have its own manager and a full-time staff but part-time student employees put in nearly 500 hours each week. This work opportunity allows them to get out of the classroom, get their hands dirty on the farm, and use their knowledge in a work setting. And, some students are able to utilize these facilities for their own research.

In order to give more insight on the opportunities for students at theASREC, I have put together a Soundslides that highlights an agricultural communication student working at the Purdue Dairy Unit.

Follow this link to check out pictures and audio featuring a student worker at the Purdue Dairy Unit:

Lauren Rowe, a junior agricultural communication student of Auburn, Ind., wakes up at 3:30 a.m. to go out to Dairy Unit.  At the farm she is in charge of tending to newborn calves, preparing the bottles used for feeding, and cleaning and rebeddig pens.

Waking up before sunrise and working at the farm gives Rowe a chance to “start the day off right,” as she would say.  And because she grew up around farm animals, and has a passion for the beef cattle industry, the Dairy Unit is a home away from home.  But not only is it a place of comfort and relaxation, it is also a place for hands-on learning.

Before switching her major to Ag Comm, Rowe was studying animal sciences with a focus on production.  By working with the young calves, she is able to continue to apply what she learned in her ANSC courses, such as biology and animal nutrition.

If you are interested in working at the ASREC, check out there student employment opportunies.

Note: Tomorrow I will be posting my a final blog post for the semester.






Summer Activities: mark your calendars

The school year is wrapping up, and summer is about to take over. While many summer activities include cookouts, boating and soaking up the sunshine, I wanted to provide a few agricultural activities that you don’t want to miss out on:




Purdue’s Spring Beauty

There is nothing better than walking across campus and seeing green grass, flowers, and blooming trees.  Now that we finally have Spring weather, I can’t help but be happy about the warm sunshine we’re enjoying on campus this weekend.  In honor of having a great weekend with great weather at Purdue, I wanted to share some beautiful, scenic Spring pictures taken around campus and shared on Twitter.

Hope you all are enjoying Spring!


NAMA Student Social Media Corps

The National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) is the largest association for professionals in agribusiness and marketing. Each year they hold a conference bringing agri-marketing professionals and students from all over the country together.  Professional development sessions bring the brightest individuals together to collaborate on new trends and ideas in communications, social media, and industry news. Teams of students from universities all over the country compete against each other with their marketing projects they have been working on all year.

The 2014 NAMA Conference, A Fresh Perspective, started today in Jacksonville, Fla. For the first time this year NAMA and Farm Credit have put together a student social media corps. This group of students will be taking to NAMA’s official social media platforms to build the conference’s online conversation. Students from different universities, including four students from Purdue, bring their social media knowledge together to create a diverse conversation. Jenn Piotrowski, a senior agricultural communications student at Purdue, is excited to be able to use her classroom knowledge to a real-life work environment.

Not, only have the students been enjoying the experience, but conference attendees have been joining in and generating their own noise on their personal social media accounts. You can follow along and stay up-to-date with what’s going on in Florida with #NAMA14 and #NAMASocial on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Advocating isn’t always easy

I have dedicated the last four years of my academic career to agricultural communications, so I should be pretty comfortable advocating about agriculture, right?  Well, to be honest, it can be a little intimidating. I love talking about agriculture, but when a controversial topic comes up, it can be scary to let your voice be heard. While scrolling through Pinterest, I ran across a blog post by fifth generation livestock producer Emily Jackson.  Her blog, A Farm Girl’s Fight, is an outlet for her to tell the truths about agriculture from her livestock perspective. In this particular post titled, “To the Man Who Knows Me Better Than I Know Me,” she talks about her encounter with two PETA representatives at Texas Tech. Her bravery to speak up and even invite the man to visit her family’s farm is noteworthy.

The PETA representatives had a tent set up on campus where students were given free stuff if they made it through. Emily and her teammate walked through the tent and ended up spending an hour conversing with the two men. Here is an excerpt from her blog post:

Dave talked with us for a few minutes about farming practices. He tried to inform us that beating animals was a common practice, we told Dave that we were farmers and this was not true. About this time, a new wave of students came in. Dave and Austin both excused themselves from our delightful conversation to inform innocent students of PETA’s false scares and untruthful statistics.

Folks, I’m a relatively level-headed person. But I have a passion for agriculture and watching this man falsely accuse MY industry took anger management to a whole new level.

I stood up on my tippy toes, mustered my strength, quieted my anger, and yelled:

“I’m a farmer. If you have any questions about farms, ask me, not them.”

Two things then happened: 
        1. Dave and Austin got real mad.
        2. Two girls on opposite ends of the tents turned around and yelled “me too! This is ridiculous.”
        -Emily Jackson, A Farm Girl’s Fight
In the end, the PETA representatives didn’t agree with her, nor did they go to her farm. However, her story left me thinking about one great point: be part of the conversation. Maybe she didn’t change those representatives’s minds, but at least they now have had at least one positive conversation with a farmer, and maybe her voice was able to educate at least one other student in that tent. No matter what the conversation is about, there is always room for someone to criticize you. But isn’t it better to be part of the conversation and be criticized rather than stay quiet and let others be falsely informed?



Purdue Veterinary Medicine Research

Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine uses a treadmill to conduct research on horse health. Casey  Cromer will conclude her undergrad this May in Animal Sciences and begins her journey in the vet school in Fall 2014.  She first got introduced to horse research in Purdue’s vet school as a freshman, and has spent the past four years doing hands-on research.

Watch the treadmill in action, and get the 101 from Casey here:





Who knew classroom readings were interesting

Ever have that ah-ha moment when something from the classroom shows up in real life? Well I just had one of those moments. The other day I was reading material for my horticulture class (HORT 306), and Norman Borlaug popped up. Then, this morning as I was reading the latest blog posts from Crystal Cattle, Borlaug came up again.

Norman Borlaug is considered the father of the Green Revolution (I learned that in HORT 306). But to my surprise, he would have been 100 years old on March 25, which was National Ag Day.   On her blog, Crystal Cattle shared a video remix of popular quotes from Norman Borlaug. And, I must say that I agree with Crystal Cattle about Borlaug’s best quote:

“I think my favorite quote of his is “If I have anything to contribute to this world I’m going to play that card and play it hard.” For Norman this meant that he was going to use science, use GMO variations, use technology to ensure more people around the world had access to food and basic necessities.” -Crystal Cattle

I really enjoyed his quotes, but I’m not the biggest fan of remixes so I thought that part was a little cheesy. However, I think it’s definitely worth the watch.

What do you think, like or dislike?



This semester at Purdue, I’ve gotten the chance to step out of my comfort zone and learn to communicate through video. While I certainly don’t consider myself a videographer, I have noticed that now when watching a clip I pick up on various aspects: close-up shots, medium shots, wide shots, angles, use of questions.

Learning about these techniques have made me really appreciate a good video. Even more, I now appreciate how the use of these techniques can really make a video hit home for the viewer and tug on their emotions.

The other day, I ran across this video from the American Quarter Horse Foundation, and  I felt a need to share it.  From the narration, to the use of angles and variety of shots, this video pulled me in from beginning to end. It made me want to work harder on my own projects to give my audiences a similar experience.

The mission of the American Quarter Horse Foundation  is to advance the American Quarter Horse and the relationship it shares with people. This video illustrates the bond between a horse and its owner. 

What are some of your favorite agricultural videos?


Finding and coming to love Ag Comm

For many life moments and decisions, there is no cookie cutter path to follow nor is there one correct destination to come to. I have found that this is especially true throughout your collegiate career.

Like many students, I changed my mind a time or two about what I wanted to study.  I had vet school in mind, and later set my mind on Animal Sciences focusing on nutrition.  Then, a month before starting my Junior year, I met with my adviser and set my heart on Ag Comm.

Today, I couldn’t be happier with my decision, but hindsight is 20/20 and in the midst of making those big decisions it’s nice to know that other students also took a winding path toward Ag Comm (or whatever major they chose). In a blog post by Abigail Maurer, she shared her story of changing majors and why she chose Ag Comm. Like me, she took a winding path.

Abby talks about how she started in speech therapy, then switched to English education all before finding her passion in Agricultural Communication. And, her reason for studying Ag Comm is simple, “I love food. I love people. I love words. And that’s what ag comm is all about.”

As I continued to read her post, I also connected with her overall Purdue experience:

“But studying ag comm at Purdue is wonderful for more reasons than food, people and words.  In my major, I found the academic experience I always wanted college to be.  Classes that stimulated my mind and moved my heart.  Professors who cared about my life.  Friends with whom I could sit in classes and attend club meetings.”-Abigail Maurer

Being about a month away from graduation, I can’t imagine getting a degree in anything else, and I have loved my Purdue Ag Comm experience. I love learning about all aspects of agriculture, I love sharing stories about Ag, and I love that my major has taught me about communicating across a variety of platforms.