Meet a Former Ag. Comm. Student

We may come from different backgrounds or have plans of going opposite directions, but we come together in the Agriculture Communications program. This post is all about giving incoming, current and former Purdue Ag. Comm. students (and anyone interested) a chance to meet some else in the program.

Amanda Gee, of North Vernon, Ind., completed her undergrad as an Ag. Comm. major in December 2013. Get Amanda’s perspective on Purdue’s Ag. Comm. program in this short Q&A interview:

Q&A with Amanda Gee

  • What made you decide to major in Agricultural Communications?

“I took kind of a circuitous route to Ag. Comm. I’ve always had eclectic interests, and as a high school senior I applied to five colleges with five different majors. I started out at Purdue in Pre-Pharmacy. After deciding that wasn’t my cup of tea, I checked out a number of majors. Then I met with an advisor and some AgComma’s who are now alumni. They convinced me to join with their passions for agriculture and the program. My Ag. Comm. journey began my sophomore year, and I never looked back.” 

  • What was your favorite part about the Ag. Comm. program?

“The sense of community. The program is small compared to most others on campus, but it’s like a tight-knit family. I met people in my first Ag. Comm. class who not only helped me in future classes and told me about a internship opportunity I’d love, but who also became some of my best friends.”

  • What was your favorite class at Purdue?

Hard choice! I would say Intro to PR, Wine Appreciation, Problems in PR, Horses in Europe study abroad, and Intro to New Media all rank at the top of my list. But, I’m going to go with ANSC393: Animal Industry Travel Course that I took last year for my Animal Sciences minor. We toured farms and agribusinesses across the Midwest over Spring Break (read more here), and then came back and gave a presentation about it. It was a great opportunity, and not one that I’ll soon forget. Coming from a family beef farm in southeastern Indiana still didn’t quite prepare me for the sight of 72,000 head of cattle at a feedlot in Nebraska. And, some of the pics I took along the way sparked discussion of modern ag on my Facebook page, à la Ag. Comm. in action.”

  • What was your favorite club or activity?

“Big surprise…Ag Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT). It’s a professional club for Ag. Comm. students. I got to network with Ag. Comm. professionals and students, and hone my writing skills through some club projects. I’m not a big talker (funny that I’m in Ag. Comm. then, I know), but I was able to strengthen my writing and work on those presentational skills and get feedback on both. ”

  • How did the Ag. Comm. program prepare you for a future career?

“I learned how to be a better writer, communicator and critical thinker. I’ve always loved to write, but now I can confidently say that whether I need to create a press release, media plan, blog, hard news story, feature/profile, Facebook post, short video, photo collage, etc…I can do it, and do it well. The program also taught me about opportunities; if there isn’t one readily available that fits you, find or create one and go for it. All of my internships started with cold-calling because I was interested in learning from those people. And luckily, I got paid for them too!”

  • Where are you now?

“I’m pursuing my Master’s here at Purdue in Youth Development and Agricultural Education, with a concentration in Ag. Comm. I haven’t decided exactly what the focus of my research will be, but I want it to be something about engaging and involving audience members with a message. This summer, I’m traveling to Romania to help with a class, do research for my professor, and work on co-construction of stories with locals. After I graduate in a couple years, I’d like to be a communication/PR director of an agribusiness or even work with an international non-profit.”

Boilermakers are Interactive in Agriculture

From social media to big marketing schemes, the online conversation about agriculture is booming. Some of this conversation can be negative, but in recent years people in the agriculture industry have been opening up to consumers and sharing their stories.  What’s even more exciting is that many of those people are part of the Boilermaker community.

Tom and LuAnn Troxel own a dairy farm in Northwest Indiana where they also operate a large animal veterinary practice. The Troxel Dairy Farm is very interactive on Facebook, where they invite the public to take a look at what’s going on at their farm. Their YouTube video is another way they share with the public what each day holds on a dairy farm.

Boilermaker Connection: Jackson Troxel, son of Tom and LuAnn, is a recent Purdue graduate in the College of Agriculture.

Even the big names like Monsanto have Boilermaker ties. America’s Farmers by Monsanto introduces farm families and gives an inside look at their farms. The Martin family from Kingman, Ind., is one of America’s Farmers.

Boilermaker Connection: Chloe Martin is a freshman at Purdue in Agricultural Communications.

Fun Facts for the Weekend

Farm facts don’t usually seem unusual to the people inside the industry, but for people outside of agriculture those same facts can be unimaginable. As communicators, we can use those fun facts to educate others.

During the Purdue Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) meeting this past week, the members discussed the farmer’s breakfast they plan to host during Ag. Week (April 7-11). On top of serving those homemade breakfast foods we all love, members will be educating students on Indiana and U.S. agriculture.

To get the ball rolling, here is some food for thought to pass along:

*97 percent of U.S. farms are operated by families.
*Today’s farmers produce 262 percent more food with 2 percent less inputs compared to the 1950’s farmer.
*14.7 million acres in Indiana are used for farming.
*Of each dollar spent on food, the farmer’s share is approximately 23 cents.

I’d love to hear your favorite farm facts, so be sure to comment below. And, don’t forget to share your agriculture knowledge with others.

Grow as a leader at Book Harmon Leadership Forum

What’s your leadership journey? The Book Harmon program is dedicated to fostering personal leadership and creating a networking environment for students to learn from leaders in the agriculture industry, and their Spring Forum is right around the corner.

The main event:

  • WHEN: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at noon
  • WHERE: Pfendler Dean’s Auditorium (second floor)
  • The forum is FREE and open to ALL PURDUE STUDENTS

I will be live tweeting this event, so be sure check my twitter, brooke_fruits, for the play by play.

The forums, which are held once each semester, feature a proven leader from the agriculture industry. At next week’s forum Kenda Resler Friend, the external communications and media relations leader at Dow AgroSciences, will talk “Planning (Living) Your Personal Leadership Journey.”

Not only is Kenda a proven global communicator in the industry, but she is also a Purdue alumna and the recipient of the 2012 Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award.

Additional opportunities:

On top of listening to Kenda Resler Friend, students have additional opportunities throughout the afternoon and evening to network and ask questions.  So, even if you are unable to make it to the main forum, check to see if the other events work with you schedule.

Schedule of Events:

  • 11:30     Lunch: Pizza Provided
  • 12:00     Forum: Planning (Living) Your Personal Leadership Journey
  • 1:00      Questions and Discussion
  • 4:30      Leadership Challenge Workshop: “Good Questions Lead to Good Communications”
  • 6:00      Sandwiches provided
  • 6:30      Leadership Insights: Forest Roberts, Beef USA. AFA webinar, www.agfuture.org

Don’t miss the Spring Career Fair

Whether you are a freshman trying to land your first internship or a senior looking to lock in a job after graduation, career fairs are a great opportunity to network, get your resume out there, talk with recruiters and ask questions.

The College of Agriculture is hosting its Spring Career Fair this Wednesday, Feb. 12. It’s open to all Purdue students, and approximately 50 companies will have recruiters there to talk with you.

Brief overview:

  • WHEN: Wednesday, February 12, 2014
  • WHERE: Purdue Memorial Union, South Ballroom
  • TIME: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • FREE and open to ALL Purdue students

What companies are recruiting agriculture communications students?

You can find a full list of the registered companies and see their recruiting needs here.

Career fairs can be a little intimidating for everyone. Here are a few helpful tips to get prepared and calm those nerves :

  • Attend the Resume Blitz on Feb. 11 to have your resume critiqued by industry recruiters.
  • Do research ahead of time on companies you know you want to talk with.
  • Dress conservatively: suit for men and skirt or pant suit for women (it’s better to be conservative).
  •  Overestimate the amount of resumes you’ll need to hand out to employers (print them on white or ivory professional resume paper).
  • Earlier is better to avoid large crowds.
  • Allow yourself at least 1 hour at the career fair.

The College of Agriculture gives a longer list of tips, tricks and checklists here.

If you have any additional questions about the career fair email Sherre Meyer at meyer10@purdue.edu.

Good luck at the career fair, and be sure to dress warm for your chilly walk to the Union!

Weekend Humor

As the snow falls outside and I sit here trying to keep warm, I thought a little farm humor would be a perfect way to brighten the rest of the weekend. Not only do these videos provide a few laughs, but wrapped up in their humor is a story that shows the public what is happening in the world of agriculture.

  • The Peterson Farm Bros have become known for their parodies.  Each video uses clever, educational lyrics and images that have put a face on large farms.

  • The Midwest Dairy Association squeezed their love for dairy farms into this short video that includes footage from family farms in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota.

  • This young farmer put his own spin on “Cups” to show where food comes from.

Enjoy these videos, and be sure to share any farm humor you find!

Interesting Read

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?

Social Media at the Farm Table

“The conversation is happening about food and farm – even if farmers and ranchers aren’t at the table talking.”  – Michele Payn-Knoper 

It’s no mystery that more and more businesses are using social media as a marketing tool.  Beck’s Hybrids started a conversation with their “Why I Farm” videos, and Monsanto’s “America’s Farmers” stories have been shared by Facebook, Twitter,  and YouTube users.  But it’s not just businesses that are jumping on board with social media.  Universities, including Purdue, are starting to incorporate web and social media strategies in the classroom.  Purdue Agriculture Communication students are enrolling in courses such as Multimedia in Agriculture Communications and Web and Social Media Strategies.

So why are students and agribusinesses diving into social media? 

  • Facebook reached 150 million users nearly three times faster than a cell phone.
  • 98.5% of the U.S. population aren’t actively engaged in farming. 
  • 665 million people are actively using Facebook every day. 
  • YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network. 
  • Videos on animal rights and environmentalism increase 30% monthly.

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Who is “Boiler Ag. Talk”?

Hi!

I’m Brooke Fruits and I am a small-town girl from northern Indiana who loves everything Ag. I am currently a senior studying Agriculture Communications at Purdue University, but my path to get here wasn’t the straightest.

I began my college career at a small Ju-Co in Illinois (Black Hawk College) where I judged horses and planned to continue a degree in Animal Sciences. But, through my experiences and the people I’ve met, I have grown to love communications and talking or writing about anything and everything Ag.

At Purdue, I continue to learn something new about Ag. Communications and the College of Agriculture everyday! I started “Boiler Ag. Talk” as part of my COM497, Intro to New Media class, and in it I plan to share what’s going on in Agriculture Communications at Purdue.

This is my small window into the big world of Agriculture Communications, and I can’t wait to begin this blogging journey!

If you have any questions or comments about me or my blog, don’t hesitate to email me at bfruits@purdue.edu, and check out my Twitter account, brooke_fruits, which is dedicated to this blog.