AEC Review | FALL 2015

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UF Department of Agricultural Education and Communication | AEC Review


AECREVIEWFALL 2015LETTER FROM THE DEPARTMENT CHAIRFALL | 2015Our department recently completed a comprehensive review conducted by Deans Turner (CALS), Burns (Research), and Place (Extension), as well as IFAS Senior Vice President Jack Payne. We were one of two departments selected to participate in fall 2015 in this new IFAS unit review process. The purpose of these reviews is to take a comprehensive look at the 27 departments and research and education centers in IFAS, note areas of strength, and identify opportunities for improvement. Our department was commended for its well-developed strategic plan, high quality graduate program, increased grant funding, number of refereed journal publications and extension publications, interdisciplinary collaborations, organizational support to IFAS, stakeholder engagement and support, visibility in IFAS, involvement in campus initiatives, national standing and continued growth and advancement as a comprehensive academic unit. The department is #1 in the nation in its field, as ranked by faculty peers across the United States. In addition, our undergraduate agricultural communication program was recently ranked by faculty peers as #2 among 40 such programs in the nation. Once we fill a current vacancy in leadership and intercultural communication, we will have 24 faculty members in the department, making us one of the two largest departments in our field nationally. Our department has many strengths and opportunities continue to emerge for continued growth and greater impact in the state, nation, and internationally. Our faculty brings a much-needed social science perspective to the complex problems faced by IFAS stakeholders, including expertise in behavior change, adoption of innovations, communication strategies, motivation and engagement, opinion formation, teaching and learning, program evaluation, leadership, critical thinking and other areas. We seek to further enhance our capacity for distinguished teaching, discovery, and outreach and be more impactful leaders and innovators in our discipline. We are fortunate to be a valued member of one of the strongest and most well respected agriculture programs and land-grant universities in the nation. The food, agriculture and natural resources system faces immense challenges in attracting more students 2 | FALL 2015o n t h e c o v e rBrazil: Students enrolled in Challenge 2050: The Experience led by AEC assistant professor Tony Andenoro had the opportunity to visit So Paulo, Brazil this summer. Find out more about their trip on page 4.DEPARTMENTAL BUZZSTUDENT SPOTLIGHTPhoto credit: Shelby BrooksSPECIAL FEATURESDR. ED OSBORNEinto related technical and scientific career fields and feeding a rapidly expanding world population. Our faculty and graduates are addressing these challenges through many innovative programs and strategies, and we look forward to partnering with our colleagues and stakeholders in the coming year as we continue this important work.ALUMNI SPOTLIGHTGo Gators!LETTER FROM THE DEPARTMENT CHAIRFALL | 2015o n t h e c o v e rCONTENTS0616DEPARTMENTAL BUZZSTUDENT SPOTLIGHTAg Comm Program Ranked Number Two In NationAECs Agricultural Communication program receives a top rankingMaking Kids CountAEC professor works to help at risk K-3 elementary childrenStorytelling through videoAEC graduate student creates his own production companyTagged To Teach AgAg Ed faculty and students participate in Ag Ed Institute this summerStudent Spotlight: Miranda CraigMiranda completes two, unique internships in South DakotaStudent Spotlight: Justin FussellJustin completes an internship with The Market PlaceStudent Spotlight: Ashley McLeodAshley completes an internship with the Center for Public Issues EducationStudent Spotlight: April WalkerApril completes an internship with Florida Cattlemens Association100812141517AECREVIEW305 Rolfs HallPO Box 110540Gainesville, FL 32611-0540352-392-0502aec.ifas.ufl.eduUF/IFASDepartment ofAgricultural Educationand CommunicationFALL 2015 |Published biannually EditorAndrea DavisWritersKali BowenShelby BrooksHeath DavisHolly HughesShelby OesterreicherBrady Reed Michael SuhGraphic DesignerAndrea DavisCopy EditorRicky TelgEd OsborneSPECIAL FEATURESAEC Awards & AccomplishmentsAEC Vision & MissionAEC Scholarships & EndowmentsDR. ED OSBORNE0420212223Training Globally, Engaging LocallyTwo AEC doctoral students co-found Projects for Haiti09Challenge 2050: The ExperienceAEC assistant professor travels with students to So Paulo, BrazilFaculty Embark on Ag. Industry TourAEC faculty participate in agricultural tour of South FloridaALUMNI SPOTLIGHT18 Alumni Put Skills To Action At Childrens HomeThree AEC alumni work for Florida Baptist Childrens HomesPictured in photo: The Octvio Frias de Oliveira bridge in So Paulo, Brazil was one of many sites Challenge 2050 students had the opportunity to see while visiting this summer.Photo credit: Adobe Stock Images.THE EXPERIENCE4 | FALL 2015Challenge 2050 students traveled to So Paulo, Brazil during the recent summer semester to help develop solutions for agricultural problems.Challenge 2050, a project directed by AEC assistant professor, Tony Andenoro, is focused on finding ways to assure the worlds growing population projected to be 9.5 billion by 2050 will be fed. With the help of former CALS Dean Terry Balser, who first envisioned the UF Challenge 2050 program, Andenoro developed relevant coursework for students to learn while taking an active part in solving complex global issues. The active search for global solutions brought the summer class to So Paulo, which faces constant problems with the cultivation and transportation of food. Andenoro said the first few weeks of the trip were the most important. Sometimes, the first two weeks are unpacking the expectations that prevent us from interacting with the environment in a meaningful way, he said.AEC senior Alexandria Lucas was one of the students who participated in the Brazil trip. The purpose of the trip was to find solutions through systems-thinking to reduce CHALLENGE 2050BY HEATH DAVISTHE PURPOSE OF THE TRIP WAS TO FIND SOLUTIONSTO REDUCE OUR IMPACT IN REGARDS TO FEEDING THE GROWING POPULATION.our [environmental] impact in regards to [feeding] the growing population, Lucas said. Lucas used the phrase working through accompaniment to describe the process of finding global solutions. It involves partnering with communities directly affected by agricultural problems. Many of the problems faced in Brazil are similar to those in the United States. The water crisis in Brazil and California are of similar magnitudes. Droughts have damaged Brazils water supply and increased the cost of irrigating crops. On top of increased costs, spoilage is a problem in Brazil because of improper storage techniques used while transporting food to the cities. The food that is not sold at the end of the day adds to the waste. Through shadowing industry professionals, the students were able to see the problems So Paulo faces from the point of view of one of the businesses trying to develop solutions. The students developed a sense of community with the residents of So Paulo through volunteer work. The locals referred to the interaction as calor humano, which translates to human heat. Lucas compared calor humano to southern hospitality but described it as more intense. Lucas said this was evident during the first meeting between community executives and the students. The students were late to the meeting and were still received almost like celebrities, she said. AEC senior Katie Cardenas said the group also toured the production side of the So Paulo fruit and vegetable industry. The workers were paid by the truckload, so they were all running DEPARTMENTAL BUZZ5 | AECREVIEWand moved as fast as they could so they could get paid more. There was also a large amount of spoiled product, Cardenas said. Lucas said there were two moments that represented the culture of So Paulo. On the first night, the students were made to feel at home by the citizens. The second moment occurred when a very young girl began speaking English to the group. Lucas said the girl represented how easy it is to relate to other people, showing that you form relationships without realizing.Andenoro said that finding solutions to complex problems starts when people come to a deeper understanding of others and establish long-standing partnerships. We must understand first before seeking to be understood, Andenoro said. Pictured in photos: (Previous page) Students visit Ipanema Park on their first day in So Paulo; (Current page- clockwise) Students strike a pose at Ipanema Park; Students pause to show off their best Gator chomps while at Parque Ibirapuera; Students visit Beco do Batman graffiti walls.6 | FALL 2015AG COMM PROGRAMRANKED TWO IN NATIONThe AEC undergraduate agricultural communication program was recognized recently by its peers as one of the top programs in the nation. AEC was ranked No. 2 among 40 university agricultural communication programs in a study conducted at the University of Arkansas, which included a survey of agricultural communication faculty. The study was presented in February at the 2015 Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists research conference.Respondents were asked to rank their picks for the top five programs. First-place votes earned five points each in the study, ranging down to fifth-place votes earning one point each. Respondents ranked the University of Florida behind Texas Tech University by only one point, 47 to 48. Oklahoma State University also scored 47 points, but UF had more first-place rankings, which earned its higher, second-place ranking over Oklahoma State. The top BY BRADY REEDfive universities included Texas A&M University and Kansas State University. Seventeen of the surveys 26 respondents participated in the ranking. Professor Ricky Telg, who has led the AEC communication and leadership development specialty for 20 years, said he was pleased with the recognition. It was outstanding that our program was ranked second in the nation, even though our undergrad program is not only agricultural communications, Telg said. I hope other colleges model their programs after ours.DEPARTMENTAL BUZZ7 | AECREVIEWAG COMM PROGRAMPictured in photo: (Clockwise) Undergraduate student Ashley McLeod works on a video production project while in the departments Mac lab; Students enrolled in the agricultural communication course, AEC4036 Advanced Digital Media Production, work on videos for the Florida Museum of Natural Historys Explore Research exhibit; AEC alumna Valerie McKee shoots video in the field of corn being harvested; AEC alum Dalyns Manasse shoots video at one of the Florida Museum of Natural Historys lepidoptera laboratories.Students can do many things in this program, Telg said, and that is why it is unique. I think this program is successful because of the curriculum here. Students can learn and apply it in their classes, Telg said. We also have tremendous alumni support.AEC senior, Ellen Sharpe, said she is happy to be a part of the program. What I like most about the AEC program is the close-knit family atmosphere that it offers its students, Sharpe said. Students can build relationships with their professors and with their classmates. I have always felt very welcome, and the faculty in this department are always there to help. This department has become something that I cherish and am thankful to call myself a part of.UF also has one of the 20 chapters of the National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. The UF chapter is known as Agricultural Communicators and Leaders of Tomorrow to reflect the leadership aspect of AECs communication and leadership development specialization. Telg, who is the ACLT faculty co-sponsor along with AEC associate professor Lisa Lundy, said it gives students an opportunity to learn and network with professionals and with their peers. Having a club like this to network with professionals is an important factor when being on a national scale, Telg said. 8 | FALL 2015Alachua County is bustling with elementary school students, but many struggle academically from a very young age. A group of concerned citizens found that almost half of lower-income students in the county were not graduating from high school on time, so in 2007 they founded Kids Count in Alachua County, an after-school program. Guided by local educators, including AEC professor and associate chair, Brian Myers, Kids Count works to help at-risk K-3 elementary school children.Its a way to show investment in every single kid. Every kid does count, Myers said. We saw that kids who were coming into middle school and high school were carrying a lot of baggage sometimes. Some of these kids were even dropping out before they even got there. I saw the importance of being involved at the elementary level.In addition to Myers, members of the board of directors include other educators, local elementary teachers and instructors from other local programs. A teaching staff and volunteers work with children at two local elementary schools, Rawlings and Williams.Professor Dorene Ross, former faculty member in the UF College of Education, serves as president of Kids Count. The program has been effective and has progressed greatly, Ross said. We currently have a waiting list of students at both our locations, and we have even had kids come back to the program from previous years.The goals of the Kids Count after-school program include providing an opportunity for students who need extra support to succeed in school and life, inspiring hope in the childrens lives, enhancing learning and improving self-confidence, while building social skills and concern for others. Teachers have been reporting back to us that their kids have better mindsets and attitudes now when it comes to doing their schoolwork, and they have seen lots of improvements in their overall scores, Ross said.The program is modified every month so that the lessons can be designed for each students individual needs. Currently, the program has three academic elements with emphasis on one-on-one literacy tutoring, character development through regular activities and programs, and enrichment. Kids Count serves over 50 students in grades K-3. In order to provide a specialized learning environment catered to each childs needs, the program has partnered with UF tutors, civic organizations, churches and other nonprofits.I think that Kids Count is a great nonprofit organization thats really making a dramatic impact, Myers said. Were making real differences in the youth, and were making real differences in their families.KIDS COUNTMAKINGBY MICHAEL SUHDEPARTMENTAL BUZZ9 | AECREVIEWTAGGED TO TEACH AGThe third annual Ag Ed Institute began this past summer at the Florida State FFA Convention in Orlando. This yearlong special recruitment program for the teacher education (TCH) specialization is Floridas response to the national call for more agriscience teachers through the National Teach Ag Campaign. The Department of Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC) worked in partnership with current Florida agriscience teachers and leaders in education and industry to host students interested in becoming an agriscience teacher. The 65 students who attended rotated through 10 teacher zones to learn more about the University of Florida, the AEC department and what its like to be an agriscience teacher. Students were then invited to sign a letter of intent, formally declaring their desire to become an agriscience teacher. Fifty of the 65 students attending the to students at a local elementary school. A spring event is planned for April, where Ag Ed Institute participants will return to campus, learn more about the university, hear from undergraduate students who are completing their student teaching internship, and reflect on the take-home lessons they taught at their local elementary schools. The department seeks increased participation in the Ag Ed Institute in the coming years and hopes to involve past institute participants as guest speakers in future programs. This unique new program has the potential to significantly reduce the shortage of agriscience teachers in Floridas middle and high schools and may serve as a model for addressing the nationwide shortage of agriscience teachers. event chose to sign a letter of intent while at the convention to become an agriscience teacher. Each signee was escorted to the convention media room for a special photo with their agriscience teacher, parents (if on-site), and an assigned AEC department faculty mentor. Faculty mentors will provide these prospective agriscience teachers with a direct link to the University of Florida and AEC as they finish their high school and/or transfer degree. They will remain in direct contact with their protg during their undergraduate program at UF and into their first years as a teacher. The 50 signees were invited to attend a special session in October on the UF campus in Gainesville, where they learned more about teaching and learning strategies and effective teaching in an agriscience program. The event culminated with the students preparing a lesson to take home and teach MAKINGBY MICHAEL SUHPictured in photo: AEC professor Kirby Barrick and agriscience teacher Cindy Webb watch while an FFA member signs a letter of intent to teach agriculture.10 | FALL 2015An Agricultural Education and Communication graduate student has developed his own video production and photography company aimed at perfectly capturing clients stories. Agricultural communication graduate student Levy Randolph established Paradigm Productions, a full-service video production and photography company specializing in corporate marketing, promotional, educational and wedding videos.I grew up always playing around with point-and-shoot cameras to make amateur videos, Randolph said. I guess as I grew older, I wanted to take that love for video and start doing something worth more than just likes and laughs. I wanted to share peoples stories.Paradigm Productions was created in July 2013 under the name Happily Ever Captured and transitioned to its current name in August 2015. Currently, the company has filmed videos in California, Michigan, Maryland, Delaware, Florida, Indiana and Illinois, with a desire to branch out and film in additional domestic and international locations.I would love to say that I have filmed video projects in each of the 50 states and am very interested in opportunities to film internationally, Randolph said.Randolph says his favorite part of filming each video project is working one-one-one with clientele during the production of the videos and then going in post-production to edit the footage to perfectly tell each clients story.Similar to artists, videographers and editors each exhibit their own unique styles that impact the way they tell their clients story Randolph said. I love being able to express my own personal style of videography in order to capture each of my clients stories.Although Randolph is passionate about his production company, he said there are many challenges that come along with owning your own business. For Randolph, these challenges range from finding new clientele, offering competitive pricing for his video and photography services and working long hours in order to balance his company projects and manage THROUGH VIDEOSTORYTELLINGBY SHELBY BROOKSDEPARTMENTAL BUZZ11 | AECREVIEWTHROUGH VIDEOhis graduate course work and assistantship responsibilities.Although Randolph faces these challenges, he perseveres by maintaining a positive attitude and stopping to take the time to enjoy the work he does on each of his projects.Whether I am writing a script for a video, filming or editing, I truly enjoy the work that I do Randolph said. I experience so much joy working in videography that I dont get bogged down by the everyday challenges that I face.Randolph advises other students who may be interested in starting their own businesses to stay motivated, to use challenges and mistakes as learning experiences and to find a support system of individuals who will support them in their business ventures.Push through and keep at it no matter how difficult things may get. Try to learn from mistakes, set achievable goals and celebrate them when you reach them, Randolph said. Also, never be afraid to ask for help. Family, friends, and mentors are a great support system. They will keep you grounded and remind you of your purpose.I LOVE BEING ABLE TO EXPRESS MY OWN PERSONAL STYLE OF VIDEOGRAPHY IN ORDER TO CAPTURE EACH OF MY CLIENTS STORIES.Pictured in photos: Agricultural communication graduate student Levy Randolph shoots both photos and video for his video production and photography company, Paradigm Productions.12 | FALL 2015Two Agricultural Education and Communication doctoral students specializing in extension education co-founded a Gainesville-based 501(C)(3) non-profit organization called Projects for Haiti (P4H) in 2011. Chief executive officer (CEO) Bertrhude Albert and Chief operations officer (COO) Priscilla Zelaya established the non-profit organization to deliver professional development trainings to Haiti. As an organization, we take a GLOCAL approach; We train globally and engage locally, Albert said. Since 2011, we have traveled with over 200 US volunteers to Haiti, and we have hosted global awareness conferences and presentations to over 6,000 students, teachers and community leaders in Florida.The Haitian people have been the catalyst in creating this organization, Zelaya said. Although people may look at Haiti and see what is lacking, TRAINING GLOBALLYENGAGING LOCALLYBY SHELBY BROOKSOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT OUR JOB IS THE PEOPLE WE MEET.DEPARTMENTAL BUZZ13 | AECREVIEWwe look at Haiti and see all the beauty and riches that lie within.P4H has an all-volunteer staff of 17. The organization is constantly growing and striving to reach as many people as possible. Our staff is not paid. They are committed to our mission, Zelaya said. They are the most dedicated, passionate people we know.Both Albert and Zelaya agree their passion for the organization comes from their faith. They enjoy meeting like-minded individuals and are constantly moved by compassion. Our favorite part about our job is the people we meet, Albert said. Not only the Haitians, but all of the volunteers as well.Zelaya gives advice to students wanting to start their own nonprofit organizations.Our advice would be to take risks. At the beginning of our journey with P4H we had no idea where it would go, but we were so committed to partnering with the Haitian people, Zelaya said. Weve kept running towards our goal through all of it, but it didnt come without taking calculated risks along the way. Albert says focusing on the mission is the main focus they use to get through the tough times. The Haitian people truly are our source of inspiration, Albert said. Their stories keep us going through all the difficult times we face.Pictured in photo: Extension education doctoral students and co-founders of Projects for Haiti Bertrhude Albert (pictured left) and Priscilla Zelaya (pictured right) stop to take a photo while working on a project during a recent trip to Haiti.TRAINING GLOBALLYTHE HAITIAN PEOPLE TRULY ARE OUR SOURCE OF INSPIRATION.THEIR STORIES KEEP US GOING THROUGH ALL THE DIFFICULT TIMES WE FACE.14 | FALL 2015An Agricultural Education and Communication student completed two unique internships in South Dakota over the summer.AEC student Miranda Craig interned at Rock Hills Ranch in Lowry, South Dakota, this summer. She was responsible for helping run the ranchs social media platforms, as well as working outside of the office with Angus cattle operations. Through this internship she networked her way to a second internship with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture in Pierre, South Dakota. This summer I developed more confidence in my abilities and experienced personal growth, Craig said. I was 2,000 miles away from home on a working cattle operation for one month and in a state department of agriculture for another two months.Craig faced many challenges being away from home.Aside from experiencing a bit of culture shock, I was challenged in my writing abilities, Craig said. Learning to adapt my writing style to the needs of the specific client I was serving was an adjustment for me, but it taught me the importance of being able to adapt to different situations and demands quickly.During her internship, Craig relied heavily on the skills and knowledge gained from her time in the AEC department. Craig said she was thankful she had a strong background in writing and communication, as this was essential during her internship. Many of the skills I have learned in AEC were essential to my internships, Craig said. In addition to using the communication skills we learn, like graphic design, news writing and oral communication, I was also able to communicate and work effectively in groups and teams due to my background and understanding of interpersonal leadership.Through these internship experiences Craig has developed a desire to keep challenging herself with new experiences and to work diligently in accomplishing her goals.I would advise students to not set limitations for internships they are interested in, Craig said. Even if the internship is outside of your comfort zone or outside of your desired geographical location, take advantage of each opportunity you come across. The relationships I formed with my ranch family and coworkers within the South Dakota Department of Agriculture are experiences I will forever cherish.MIRANDA CRAIGSTUDENT SPOTLIGHTBY SHELBY BROOKSTHIS SUMMER I DEVELOPED MORE CONFIDENCE IN MY ABILITIES AND EXPERIENCED PERSONAL GROWTH.Pictured in photo: Undergraduate student Miranda Craig interns at Rock Hills Ranch in Lowry, South Dakota, this past summer.15 | AECREVIEWSTUDENT SPOTLIGHTJUSTIN FUSSELLAn Agricultural Education and Communication student had the opportunity to intern with agricultural marketing firm The Market Place (TMP) during the spring and summer 2015 semesters. AEC senior Justin Fussell joins the ranks of a small group of students from the department who have completed an internship with TMP. Although the firm doesnt offer an internship to students every year, owner Erin Freel takes notice when students stand out and show initiative.The main focus of this internship is to provide the student with a relevant work experience that represents what the student may experience if they were working for our company or elsewhere in the agricultural communications field, Freel said.Freels teaching philosophy when working with interns focuses heavily on hands-on experience.Fussell developed this hands-on experience by traveling with Freel to five conventions and trade shows during his internship, assisting with video production and set-up and coordination of trade shows.I appreciated the opportunity to develop my communications skills while interning at TMP by learning through these real-life, on-the-job experiences, said Fussell.Fussell said above all, he was excited to be working with Freel, a like-minded individual who chose to be an entrepreneur and start her own business, while also focusing her efforts on telling the story of agriculture.Fussell plans to own and operate his own business some day, as well as get involved with his familys businesses. He recognized the importance of networking throughout this internship and was excited to get to meet people from different areas of the agricultural industry during his time with TMP. During this internship, I was honored to work alongside some of the most talented people in the agricultural industry. Fussell said. The work experience I had and the skills I gained throughout this internship have helped me to become a better agricultural communicator and a better entrepreneur, Fussell said. From working with Freel at TMP, one of the most important things Fussell learned is that there are many great jobs out there, but you should never be afraid to be your own boss.STUDENT SPOTLIGHTBY SHELBY BROOKSDURING THISINTERNSHIP,I WAS HONORED TO WORK ALONGSIDE SOME OF THE MOST TALENTED PEOPLE IN THE AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY.BY SHELBY OESTERREICHERPictured in photo: Undergraduate student Justin Fussell takes a quick photo while interning with The Market Place agricultural marketing firm.16 | FALL 2015AEC senior Ashley McLeod developed an appreciation for agriculture early on while growing up on her familys cattle ranch and forestry farm, and this enthusiasm carried through her studies and work in AEC. Now, as her time as an undergraduate draws to a close, McLeod has reflected on her time at the university and the internship she has with the IFAS Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (PIE Center).McLeod says her favorite part about her internship with the PIE Center has been the people she has developed relationships with along the way. When she began searching for an internship in the spring of 2014, she was hoping to find a job that would be relevant to her career after graduation. The PIE Center seemed like a clear choice, since it encompasses research and advocacy, as well as a range of agricultural and natural resource issues, McLeod said. As an organization, the PIE Centers goal is to collect research and disseminate it to the public in a meaningful and engaging way to raise agricultural awareness.McLeod said she believes her work at the center, which utilizes a broad range of skills, has helped prepare her for a career in agricultural communication. She helps with research distribution, social media management, photography and interviewing. Her responsibilities also include graphic design work and journalistic writing. McLeod attributes much of her proficiency at these tasks to her AEC course work. The writing skills that I learned in AEC have been an extraordinary asset while at the PIE Center, she said. I write every single day, whether it is working on research summaries, news releases or stories for the websites. During her internship, McLeod had an opportunity to work closely with PIE Center media specialist Laura Bernheim. Ashley has been tremendously helpful to the PIE Center, particularly with our social media (presence), Bernheim said. She has redefined how we post to our various networks and even created our Instagram profile. Weve given her the reins to our social media and couldnt be happier with the results. Not only has McLeod made an impact at the PIE Center through her social media work, she has also developed a database of Extension fact sheets. AEC professor and PIE Center Director Ricky Telg said he hopes that the compilation of these and other online publications will prove useful to Extension faculty in the years to come.Telg noted the relevance of this internship to future careers for McLeod, who plans to attend graduate school after receiving her bachelors degree in May. Telg also encouraged other students to pursue meaningful internships. Internships help students see what they may want to do in their future careers, he said. ASHLEY MCLEODBY KALI BOWENSTUDENT SPOTLIGHTPictured in photo: Undergraduate student Ashley McLeod strikes a pose while interning at the Center for Public Issues Education.STUDENT SPOTLIGHT17 | AECREVIEWAn agricultural education and communication student networked with industry professionals and applied the skills she developed in AEC during her internship with the Florida Cattlemens Association (FCA) this past summer.AEC student April Walker interned in Kissimmee for FCA, assisting with the planning and preparation of the associations convention and trade show. Walker has always been interested in the association and said this was her chance to work closely with those in the organization.In just two months, my position with FCA opened numerous doors to potential career paths after graduation by networking with industry professionals, Walker said. Walker said during her internship, she utilized many skills she had developed through the AEC department. I had the opportunity to utilize my communication skills, which included working with new communication technologies and applying my graphic design skills learned in AEC courses, Walker said. I was also able to use recently acquired leadership skills and participate in professional development activities.Walker faced challenges throughout her internship and said she learned how to keep her focus and overcome them.To overcome some of the challenges you face, you just have to remind yourself that you started the job for a reason, and an employee that can work through adversities is a valuable one to have, Walker said. Walker said she was able to learn more about herself and what she wants out of a career through interning with FCA. After spending over 40 hours a week behind a desk for two months, I learned that I am not cut out for an inside job, Walker said. This is valuable information to me, as I will have a more specified career search when I leave the University of Florida.Walker met with many different people throughout her internship and said knowing that they support her is a feeling that is hard to match. My favorite part of the internship was meeting all the wonderful people I still talk to today, Walker said. Whether it was the family that took me in for the summer that I had never met before or the office staff who turned out to be such amazing and gracious people, they made the whole experience worth my while.Walker said her advice to AEC students looking for internships is to apply for all the ones you can find, even if it seems out of your comfort zone. You never know if youre going to end up loving it or if youre going to hate it, Walker said. Either way, youre one step closer to figuring out what you want to upon graduation.APRIL WALKERBY KALI BOWENSTUDENT SPOTLIGHTBY SHELBY BROOKSPictured in photo: Undergraduate student April Walker takes a quick photo while working registration at the Florida Cattlemens Convention this past summer.CHILDRENS HOME18 | FALL 2015Three graduates of the Agricultural Education and Communication program are working in different facets of the non-profit organization Florida Baptist Childrens Homes. Erica Hall, Sorrell Fields and Adrienne Boyette all said they are now utilizing the skills they learned in AEC courses in their work with the childrens home.Hall serves as the director of major gifts for Central and East Florida. Boyette also serves as a director of major gifts but for the homes North Florida campus. Fields serves as campaign director for the childrens home. A portion of Halls role is to work with individuals and businesses that are interested in partnering with the childrens home by making a financial gift. I help to connect them to their area of interest and develop a relationship between the donor and our organization, Hall said. Along with the childrens home, Hall also works with the organizations sister ministries: The Porch Light and Orphans Heart.ALUMNI PUT SKILLS TO ACTION ATBY HOLLY HUGHESI COULDNT HAVE PICKED A BETTER MAJOR TO GIVE ME WELL-ROUNDED PREPARATION FOR MY JOB.Like Hall, Boyette is responsible for cultivating the organizations donor base and helping ensure the financial stability of the organization. My responsibilities primarily focus on building relationships with our donor base, listening to their heart and connecting their desire to give with a present need, Boyette said. Fields is the overall campaign director at Florida Baptist Childrens Homes. I oversee the internal processes for the development of our current comprehensive campaign that we launched this year, Fields said. This includes developing and maintaining a current list of our funding priorities, helping in the development of all campaign and communication-related materials, organizing and planning campaign-cultivation reception events and writing campaign-funding proposals to be used as we seek out donor support. The childrens home launched its One More Child campaign in January 2015, and it will continue for the next five years. As campaign director, Fields said she uses multiple skills learned from her time in AEC courses to carry out the campaigns operations such as persuasive writing, designing creative and promotional materials, planning events, leading groups and working with a team. All three women said they recognize the importance of the skills they learned from their AEC courses and how they use them daily in their current job positions. The University of Floridas Department of Agricultural Education and Communication is the best in the nation, Boyette said. The skill set I learned during my time there has equipped me in a way that is almost difficult to explain. All three women said the most important skills for carrying out the responsibilities of their jobs have been storytelling, effective written communication, photography and social media marketing. In addition to writing concisely and effectively, the ability to be able to navigate and use the Adobe Creative Suite has also proven to be beneficial. It is so nice to be able to open InDesign and quickly create something that looks polished and professional, Boyette said. I honestly believe that each and every skill learned during my time in the AEC department are equally important. However, the world of non-profit leadership was not always a work environment that these women considered. Boyette began working as an agricultural educator after she graduated from the University of Florida. However, when a position at the Florida Baptist Childrens Home opened, she was intrigued by the faith-based organization and by WHEN YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE A DEGREE IN AEC, YOU ARE SIGNING UP FOR AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE.ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT19 | AECREVIEWBY HOLLY HUGHESthe prospect of working with children. Working in a non-profit is something I never considered prior to this, Boyette said. However, I am so glad I made the transition. Hall and Fields also enjoy their jobs in the non-profit world and were pleased with how their degree in agricultural education and communication prepared them for their work. Its the best, well-rounded degree, Fields said. Because of it, I have been able to do so many things and do them well. Hall is pleased with how her degree helped prepare her for her job as well. I couldnt have picked a better major to give me well-rounded preparation for my job, Hall said. One way to prepare for the work environment after graduation is through internships, and the Florida Baptist Childrens Home offers several internship opportunities.Internships are currently available in the communications and development departments and with the homes sister ministry, Orphans Heart. The responsibilities of these internships include writing, videography and social media. With Orphans Heart, interns would have international opportunities in Guatemala. When you decide to pursue a degree in agricultural education and communication, you are signing up for an amazing experience, Boyette said. You will be equipped with a valuable skill set and strong network when you graduate.Photo credit: Adobe Stock ImagesM Clay Hurdle was named one of two recipients of the 2015 Outstanding Junior Award in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). Jessica Blythe (Ph.D.,14) and Dr. Brian Myers received The Top Five Research Manuscript Award during the annual meeting of the American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE). Caitlin Bletscher and Maria Carter received the Foundation Mothers Scholarship Award from the Association of Leadership Educators (ALE). Caitlin Bletscher, Jera Niewoehner and Dr. Nicole Stedman received the Outstanding Innovative Practice Poster presented at ALE. Keri Sidle (B.S.,10) received the 2015 Horizon Award presented by CALS Alumni and Friends Association. Jesse Godbold (M.S.,63) received the Award of Distinction presented by CALS. Dr. Jim Dyer was recognized as a Senior Fellow and Dr. Grady Roberts was recognized as a Fellow during the 2015 annual meeting of the American Association for Agricultural Education, Dr. Nicole Stedman received the Teaching Scholar Award at the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) conference, presented to the top 1% of all members of this society. Cathy DiBenedetto (Ph.D.,15) received the NACTA Graduate Student Teaching Award. Dr. Jim Dyer received the Outstanding Service Citation presented by the Florida Association of Agricultural Educators. Dr. Andrew Thoron received the Journal of Agricultural Education 2015 Author of the Year Award, presented by the American Association for Agricultural Education. Dr. Thoron has received this award four of the last five years! Out of 37 CALS Ambassadors for 2015-16, 10 are AEC Department students.AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS FACULTY AND STAFF NOTES20 | FALL 2015AWARDS &ACCOMPLISHMENTS Dr. Marta Hartmann retired in October after 15 years as a lecturer in the department. She has been awarded professor emeritus status by the University. Dr. Lisa Lundy joined the faculty in June as an associate professor of agricultural communication. Dr. Lundy earned her doctorate in our department in 2004 and was a faculty member in public relations at LSU for the past 12 years. Dr. Lundy holds a teaching and research appointment. Dr. Matt Benge joined the faculty in November as an extension assistant professor. Dr. Benge has been a 4-H agent in Alachua County for the last four years and also earned his doctorate in our department in 2015. He will primarily focus on professional development programming for state and county Extension faculty. Becky Trammell joined the department in December as an academic programs specialist, replacing Kristin Theus, who had served in this role for the last five years. Becky is a UF Animal Science graduate and a former high school agriscience teacher in Marion County. Dr. Paul Monaghan has been awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of associate professor, effective July 1, 2015. Dr. Monaghan focuses on social marketing and is an affiliate faculty member in the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology. Becky Raulerson has been appointed to a full-time lecturer position in agricultural communication. Her new appointment includes development and coordination of the Florida Youth Institute, a new one-week residential experience for high school students sponsored by CALS.SPECIAL FEATURESM21 | AECREVIEWAWARDS &ACCOMPLISHMENTSSCHOLARSHIPS &ENDOWMENTSWith the support of valued partners and earnings from endowments, the department has awarded nearly $20,000 in scholarships to deserving undergraduate students in the department this year. Included in this total are scholarships awarded to AEC students by the Florida FFA Foundation, Florida Cattlewomen, and the Ag Institute. With our growing enrollments and the increasing costs of attending college, scholarships have become even more important in making college more affordable for students. Contributions to any of our scholarship funds and endowments are sincerely appreciated.In addition, we have just initiated a new campaign to endow a Graduate Student Professional Development Fund, which will support graduate student research, conference travel, and professional development experiences for AEC graduate students. GIVINGGifts to any of our funds, as well as general department gifts, can be made online at You may designate your gift for a specific fund in the comments box. Checks should be made payable to University of Florida Foundation and mailed to AEC Department, PO Box 110540, Gainesville, FL 32611. ENDOWED UNDERGRADUATE SCHOLARSHIPSENDOWED GRADUATE FELLOWSHIPSENDOWED PROFESSORSHIPSCarl E. Beeman Bishop BrothersG. Q. BussellOmar Ergle-Floyd PhilmonElton HintonRichard & Nell KellyTravis LoftenMax McGheeCarl & Jean RehwinkelRyan RimmerMarion RocheJohn & Ethel StephensD. A. StormsCope & Edna Newbern EndowmentJohn T. Barnes Endowment To be distinguished by our impact on practice, value to stakeholders, scholarly contributions to the discipline, and leadership in the profession.MISSIONSTRATEGIC PLAN22 | FALL 2015AEC DEPARTMENTVISION AND MISSIONThe current department strategic plan includes the following five goals:1. Strengthen the graduate program as a distinguishing feature of the department.2. Strengthen the undergraduate program as a distinguishing feature of the department.3. Strengthen professional development programs provided to stakeholder groups.4. Maximize the visibility and impact of department research and extension programs.5. Develop and promote the department as a leader in online learning.To serve society by advancing individuals and organizations in agriculture and natural resources through research and evidence-based practice in education, communication, and leadership.VISIONSPECIAL FEATURES23 | AECREVIEWAEC DEPARTMENTVISION AND MISSIONFACULTYAGRICULTURAL TOURSOUTH FLORIDA AG TOURThirteen department faculty members recently got a firsthand look at agriculture in South Florida. Regional specialized agent Gene McAvoy (Hendry County Extension) organized the tour and shared his vast knowledge of agriculture and the history of the region as faculty visited growers and producers in Hendry and Palm Beach counties. While on the tour, the faculty visited U.S. Sugars sugarcane fields and production facilities in South Bay and even had the opportunity to see the sugarcane being harvested. In addition, the faculty visited Mobley Plant World in LaBelle, visited Hilliard Ranch in Clewiston and toured Southern Gardens Juice Processing Plant.Pictured in photo: (Top to bottom) AEC faculty visit U.S. Sugar and experience sugarcane being harvested; Faculty visit Hilliard Ranch; During their visit to U.S. Sugar, faculty Gator chomp in front of a large pile of raw sugar.AECREVIEW305 Rolfs HallPO Box 110540Gainesville, FL 32611-0540352-392-0502UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural Education and CommunicationScan to view our