Concepts Re-learned

Today, we end our senior blog series with this fun post from Sarah Hann.  Enjoy her fun stories and creative writing.

In four years of college, I’ve had four different roommates. I’m not a horrible roommate, honest, it just happened to work out that way. This year, roommate #4 is different from the previous three; she is an international transfer student from China. Since this is her first time in America, I’ve been presented with many challenges and also moments of learning about communication. Here are a few things I’ve learned or re-learned about communicating and thought were worth sharing.

  • Sometimes you don’t need words The first Sunday as roommates, we went to breakfast here on campus. My roomie had fruit and was trying to explain that it was sour, but she didn’t know the word ‘sour’. However, sometimes facial expressions take over and I knew the message was, “wow, this is really sour!” This also has been true in other instances where she didn’t know the word, but the fact she was laughing or other facial expressions and body language told me what she was saying.
  • Write it clearly My roommate seems better at reading English, so I leave her a lot of notes, from introducing things I think we should talk about later to saying I will be at a football game most of the night, don’t worry about me. Whenever I leave her a note, I always put it in my best handwriting because I never know how nice or sloppy of English she’s grown used to reading. I figure it’s the least I can do to be nice and make sure my message gets across.
  • Think before you talk With my friends, I can be a sarcastic, quick talking person who uses the occasional crazy vocabulary word (supernumerary, anyone?). With someone who is still learning the language, that’s not the best kind of speaker to be unless you want to explain every other word and repeat yourself often. I do try to throw in appropriate slang or terms Americans use so she gets the sense of what is appropriate and common “American-isms” if you will. But, I think with anyone you should always think before you talk to keep it audience-appropriate and easy to follow among other things.

While I won’t be receiving any international communication credit for this living arrangement, I think so far this experience has taught and re-taught me some of the basic concepts of communication that we tend to overlook when communicating amongst our friends or co-workers. I think these are simple things we should all keep in mind when we communicate with others. Body language is a key part of communication, while good handwriting and thinking before speaking is common courtesy and just plain smart. Sometimes, the communication concepts we should remember to practice are the little ones.

Sarah is a senior studying agricultural communication with a minor in history. She isn’t quite sure what she would like to do after graduation, but ideally the job is located in Ohio or Indiana and she gets along with more than half of her co-workers. 🙂


It’s a simple case of greed

Many professional athletes can easily be overcome by greed. This greed ultimately affects the sport and the industry as a whole. Over the past year, greed has been widespread across many industries. Starting with the NFL, players and owners couldn’t come to an agreement on salaries. This standoff almost postponed the season, and now the same situation is taking place with the NBA.

Agriculture-related industries and professionals are not immune to greed. In the equine industry, greed is ruining some of the industry’s greatest athletes. Recently, I attended the All-American Quarter Horse Congress, in Columbus, Ohio and had the opportunity to watch the Masters class as well as many of the 2- and 3-year-old futurity/stakes classes. These classes are the youngest horses being shown, they are being pushed the hardest to perform, and the winners are taking home more money than any of the other classes. The Equine Chronicle Congress Masters Western Pleasure winner receives $100,000 in cash along with many other prizes, and the Equine Chronicle Congress Masters Hunter Under Saddle winner receives $50,000 in cash as well as other prizes. On the other hand, the winner of the Markel Senior Western Pleasure Maturity won approximately $4,300.

Ultimately, this disparity is ruining the young horses and preventing them from showing past their futurity ages. Pushing the young horses to work too hard pushes many of them beyond their limits both mentally and physically. The end result is broken-down horses that have lifelong injuries or are mentally so burned out that they won’t perform. If you follow the horses that have won as 2- and 3-year-olds, many of them are turned to the breeding shed at the age of 4 or 5.

In the equine industry, I believe the problem lies within the system that is promoting these animals. It is not one organization but all organizations as a whole. Whether you are at a Quarter Horse show, a Paint Horse show or a thoroughbred race, you see the same thing. The classes that are geared toward the 2- and 3-year-old horses have the most money added for the winners.

The people who compete in these classes often push the horses too hard and too fast, just for a chance to win the title and awards that come with a first prize. It’s a simple case of greed. Instead of putting the animals first, many trainers and owners are consumed by the glory.

In too many cases, greed can take away from the original purpose of the sport, it is important to keep perspective and not to get caught up in greed.

Mallory Martin (left) will graduate this weekend with a degree in agricultural communication.

Crossing the Street

One of my absolute favorite things about Purdue’s College of Agriculture is its tight-knit, family atmosphere. that it has. From classes to social events like the Ag Council hog roast and hot chocolate social, everybody seems to know everybody and it is easy to feel at home and included even at a large university.

One of the reasons for this close bond is the amount of extracurricular and group activities available to students within the College of Agriculture. It is easy to become very involved, and yet only be involved with students in the College of Ag.

What is the problem with this? Well, unfortunately, so many throughout Purdue know very little about the College of Agriculture and agriculture in general, which makes so many ag students angry. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard ag students say things like, “How have they never seen a combine?” or “Why don’t they understand where their food comes from?” When the real question should be, “How can we help them learn more about agriculture, a subject that we are so passionate about. If someone  didn’t grow up on a farm and live  that lifestyle day after day, and if they’ve never really had a reason to investigate where exactly their food came from, it would be hard for them to know about it.

How can ag students answer these questions while promoting agriculture?  Easily: Cross the street.

I understand State Street is a bit busy, but crossing over to the North side of campus would help immensely. If all of the students who are involved in various clubs within the College of Agriculture just joined one university-wide organization, they would be able to teach and promote agriculture so much easier and efficiently than by sitting with other ag students in an agriculture-oriented organization.

Personally, I’ve been highly involved with Purdue’s Office of Admissions for the past 3 and a half years. I finally realized the major distance between ag students and non ag students when I was giving a campus tour with a fellow tour guide a couple years ago. We were in Stewart Center introducing ourselves to a large group of admitted and prospective students. The other tour guide (who was very involved in various activities and organizations on Purdue’s campus, yet not in the College of Ag) and I stated our names, hometowns and our involvement on campus, as usual, and just as we were about to split the group in half to start the tours, he said, “This is about as far South as you will ever go on campus besides Krannert and Lily maybe.” I was stunned. Was he serious? I truly had no words I was so taken aback by his statement, because I have had so many classes in building further south that Stewart Center. So, I gathered my half of the group and went on my way. While chatting with my tour group, I asked what the prospective students hoped to study if they attended Purdue and three of them said Animal Sciences. Wow, well, needless to say, I informed them of the South side of campus and that they would have many classes past Stewart Center.

So, not only do College of Ag students need to cross the street, but the university in whole needs to realize there is another side of State Street and that campus does not end at Stewart Center. I’m not exactly sure what other modes of action it will take, but if each side gives a little, I think Purdue University will be greater as a whole if it begins to acknowledge the South side, and if College of Ag students begin crossing the street to get involved with a different group of students. Doing this would combine my love of Purdue’s large campus feel with the close-knit family feel of the College of Agriculture, and promoting agriculture while doing so.

Jeanne Gibson is a senior in agricultural communication with a minor in food and agribusiness management.

Two many students incorrectly using they’re words!

I know I’m not the only one bothered by this not-so-infrequent occurrence.  In case I didn’t make it obvious enough already, I’m specifically talking about the incorrect usage of the words to/two/too and their/there/they’re.

If I recall correctly, I was first educated in the differences between these apparently “perplexing” trios in elementary school, though I don’t quite remember exactly what year.  Ever since, I have never once failed to recall how to distinguish the differences between these threesomes.  All writing experience aside, knowing when to use which has always been second nature to me.

This brings me to my main point: How do college-educated Purdue students STILL not know how to use basic English?  I have encountered more instances of the misuse of these words than I care to count.  And I’m left wondering how these kids are still making these easily avoidable mistakes.

First, how do students get away with this, especially at such a prominent university?  Second, has no one told them any different by now?  And finally, how is it they can’t seem to remember the differences between these six simple words?  Haven’t we all written enough by now to understand these variances?  Heck, even MICROSOFT WORD lets you know when you’re wrong!

I cringe when I see the improper use of these trios and it puzzles me that most professors I’ve encountered never seem to do a thing about it.  Is this because they’re not sure what they can do or because some students seem to not care?  Either way, there is nothing more unprofessional than using to/two/too or their/there/they’re in the wrong context, in my opinion.

So, are students just that lazy that they don’t want to put forth the effort to write correctly?  This is what I want to know.  Because I find it extremely difficult to believe that so many Purdue students actually don’t know the differences between these words, and if they truly don’t know, well…then…I might as well go ahead and lose faith in my generation now (metaphorically speaking, that is).

The misuse of these triads is disturbing to me as it indicates that students don’t care a whole lot about how they are viewed, what they are saying or about being professional.  It’s more than just bad grammar, its laziness.

I suggest that professors re-teach this concept to students in writing intensive courses and take off points every time they incorrectly use these words.  Maybe students won’t be so lazy if their grades are influenced by it.

We are all communicators and obviously all know how to do so effectively.  But, that doesn’t mean the rest of the world (as in Purdue) can just reject learning how to correctly use the English language.  Communication is, after all, the basis of all human interaction.  Professors should be focusing on perfecting the most basic grammar mistakes before they begin teaching students linear algebra and organic chemistry, in my opinion.

Holly Keehn is Senior in Ag Comm with a minor in Forensic Science.

Telling your story brings positive outlook on agriculture

The agriculture industry is in a constant battle about animal welfare and care and it has become a very serious issue over the past couple of years. However, I feel that many farmers don’t necessarily know how to react when attacked by certain animal-rights activist groups or even just the general public.

Not every individual is an excellent speaker in front of an audience, but as for farmers, being proud of what you do and how you take care of your animals and land speaks louder than words itself.

Each year my family travels to the Indiana State Fair and I always look forward to that time.  Not only do I look forward to showing our dairy cattle, but I have a passion for talking with the public about what we do with our cows and how we care for them like they are a part of our family.  I always like to tell them that we have a sign in our barn that says, “In this barn, every cow is a lady.  Treat her with kindness.”

As we milk the cows at the state fair, we usually get a large crowd of people watching us.   That’s when the questions start.  I have heard many different questions and I love being able to answer them and inform the public and the individuals who really want to learn about what we do and how we take care of our animals.

Many consumers don’t know where milk comes from and some even think it is actually made in a factory.  Some people think that by milking cows, we are hurting them, when in actuality we are reducing their stress and pressure which makes them more comfortable.  We are stewards of the land and animals, and I like to make sure the public at the state fair know that we treat our cows as if they are one of us.

I like to think of it as an opportunity for me to use my knowledge of communications and also my knowledge that I have learned as I have been raised about the dairy and agriculture industry.  Speaking positively about the industry and not bringing up the negatives of the industry is key when speaking to the public.

As the battle continues for the agriculture industry, it is important for individuals to positively promote the industry and be brave about talking what you do and how you do things on your farm with your animals.  Being proud of being a farmer is the key to delivering a positive speech to someone when needed.

Personally, I feel that expressing the love that I have for taking care of animals is one of the most positive thoughts you could give to the consumer.  Letting them know that you truly care and love the creatures you work with will allow them to see that you actually care and have a passion and that it’s not about self-enjoyment.  For me, raising animals and working with God’s land, is very therapeutic for me.  Whether it be riding my horse or milking cows, I find that time to search myself and release stress.

Communicating to the public in a positive, fun way is the key to letting them know that we as farmers are helping take care of God’s creatures.  I feel he created humans to take care of the land and animals.  Even though there are individuals out there who mistreat the animals they own, I would say 98% of animal lovers and caretakers do just the opposite.  I know for a fact that when we lose an animal on our farm from an illness or unknown reason, it feels as if I lost a part of my family.  So, with that in mind, farmers love what they do and love their animals. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be a part of the agriculture industry.

Make sure you challenge yourself each day to tell your story.  Tell about the ups and downs and the roller coaster of life that you experience working in the agriculture industry.  You never know what might ignite in the eyes of the consumer when you talk about delivering a new baby calf, helping save an animal’s life or planting the seed that will end up being the food on their table.

Courtney Lipply is a senior in Agricultural Communication with a focus on Journalism/Advertisement.

The bridge that needs to built

As a college student when you are out with your family you run into family friends. It is something that happens all the time, even when you put all your effort into avoiding those conversations. They ask how you are and what school you are at. Then here comes the question that a lot of college students get tired of hearing; “What is your major.” I always really dislike having to answer this question not because I don’t like my major but because when I tell them I am an Agricultural Communication major, there comes the part of the conversation that I know just about everyone is going to ask me. What do you do with a major like that? I try to find a nice way to say it is a mix between agriculture and commutations. I like to tell people we are the bridge between the science and the public. I find it really interesting that when you tell them you are a communication major everyone never questions that. I find it really funny that everyone has to eat but there are so many people out there who never really ask the question where my food really comes from. I would say that there is blame to go around to a lot of different people. I feel as an Agricultural Communicator I have a responsibility to inform and teach people about agriculture. I feel like I can be that bridge between agriculture and the people who don’t know where there food comes from. I would tell people who are in the agricultural field not to turn always from people who don’t know but to try and help them out, be that bridge and offer some help.

As I have talked about how I feel as a student with a degree in agriculture, I feel the need to help people who may not know something about the agriculture field. I feel that if you can help someone who has a simple question to someone who may have some knowledge about agriculture but want to know a little more.

Building a bridge is a way I feel that this can be done. No I don’t mean building a literal bridge but building a bridge of knowledge that helps everyone and that anyone within the agriculture field could help. I have found the best way to learn is to ask questions. I had a teacher growing up who always said “the only stupid question is the question you don’t ask.” The way this applies to what I am trying to say is we need to open that bridge of commutations. If people feel like they can ask questions then there will be less people who don’t understand agriculture. After all everyone should understand where there food comes from.

C.J. Orth graduated from Purdue University in December 2012 with a degree in Agricultural Communication.

Crossing State Street

Today I feel that Purdue University is widely known for its three outstanding programs of engineering, professional flight and agriculture.

Sure, though agriculture is still included as one of those three, it is still somehow left on the backburner.

In 1862 the Morrill Act, also known as the Land Grant Act of 1862, was signed by then president Abraham Lincoln. This act allotted 17.4 million acres to be sold for the purpose of financing colleges in the United States that would primarily focus on the teaching of agriculture and mechanics.

Purdue University was one of those land grant colleges.

So if Purdue was established for the original intention of being a college with a focus in mechanical arts and agriculture, how is it that students give less credit to the College of Agriculture and its students today?

While there has been no study conducted on such attitude, I can say that such does in fact exist through my own experiences.

One of the contributing factors to this is an argument that has remained constant over the years. It is the imaginary rivalry between students over “who has the harder/more worthwhile major”, a rivalry more irritating than anything I know.

You will have engineering students accusing liberal arts students of knowing nothing about critical thinking while aviation students argue that their work is more than just a hobby and so on. The list of complaints and bickering between students differing in coursework goes on and on. However, at the end of the day, none can argue with a student in agriculture.


Because they simply have no idea what it is that we do.

The subtle disregard for the College of Agriculture and its students does not stem from actual disdain or question of credibility, but a lack of information passed and received.

For some reason or another, students (a portion at least) identify the College of Agriculture with the maintenance of farmland or livestock as major areas of study. A stereotype of rural agriculture being the background of agriculture students also follows. All of this is then also assumed to not require a rigorous curriculum because of its simple roots.

I myself am in the College of Agriculture. I do not come from a farming background. In addition, I have no desire to maintain farmland or produce vast amounts of livestock. In fact, in my major I have taken courses in science, economics, communications, history and the list goes on.

In addition to the stereotypes, there is often the assumption that if one is not directly affiliated with the College of Agriculture, then one would hardly find a need to “cross State Street.”

The term “crossing State Street” is meant in reference to the fact that a great majority of agriculture-based classes are taught in buildings south of State Street.

By students making such a statement they are not only are they lacking in knowledge about the buildings that are located south of State Street but also creating an image of isolation. It seems to be that the College of Agriculture is separate from the rest of Purdue.

To help resolve this issue there are little things that each student in the College of Agriculture may do to enlighten others on how agriculture brings one of the broadest areas of study in the university.

The first would be to stop ignoring the stereotypes and stop separating ourselves further from students in other studies. While it may seem that the easiest way to deal with such without having to go through lengthy, roundabout conversations is to ignore the separation and stereotypes, it does us no justice in the long run.

The second is what I consider as taking a “first impression” stance on the situation. If it seems that one lacks in interest or knowledge about my major or college, I take that as a chance to explain to them that it is one of the best things out there. I am passionate about what I study and what I hope to accomplish with my coursework, so why not share that with others?

Camille Quiñones is a senior at Purdue University where she majoring in Agricultural Communication and Naval Science.  

Senior blog posts continued

Purdue students begin finals this week.  Another year is almost complete.  For some Purdue students, this means their last few days at college.

To commemorate our AgComm seniors, we would like to finish our senior blog post series. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be sharing the remaining blog posts we have from them.

So, check back periodically to get some insight from our seniors and read their thoughts on AgComm.

Lessons in loving and learning: how my undergraduate research project taught me more than proper vegetable handling.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to present my undergraduate research at Purdue’s poster symposium.  It was a beautiful day that served as the culmination of months of effort.  The symposium also challenged me to perservere with this research.

My topic, “Communication food safety information through English as a Second Language curricula,” was born of a desire to combine two things that are very important to me:  food and the Spanish language.

Hispanic parents, like all parents, want to provide the best nutrition for their families, but they might not have the resources or know-how to do so.  Accessing information proves to be a challenge, since most governmental or university documents are written for those with more advanced literacy.  So my project focused on reaching Hispanic food preparers where they are– ESL classes.  The information isn’t complicated; the bigger question is how we can meet Latinos within their culture.

I met a few bumps on the road to the poster symposium.  One of the most daunting tasks of research was attaining Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval.  Because I was performing my research with human subjects, this board had to make sure I wasn’t harming the subjects in any way.  Let me tell you, getting IRB approval can be a very long process.  I practiced patience and perservered.  It did eventually go through, and I was able to begin the study.

My undergraduate research combined my passions in an effort to bring the good, true, and beautiful of life to families in need. Making this happen required overcoming beaurocracy (and procrastination). In the end though, this project isn’t about me.  It’s about those who deserve to know how to keep their families safe. Vegetable safety isn’t going to revolutionize the world, but it might make a difference for one family.

I think of myself as a loving person.  Truly loving these communities happens when we can reach them with truth.  Before this project, I often envisioned research as a cold-hearted approach to find hard facts and information.  Through my work, I realized that research should always serve a higher purpose and lead to understanding that brings goodness to people’s lives.

Certainly, this has been a culminating experience, and I learned more about washing produce than I ever imagined possible.  But more importantly, this project challenged me to apply learning to how I love and loving to how I learn.  Don’t tell Dr. Tucker, but I think that’s been the most exciting part of the project.

You’re either cookin’ or you’re not

This week, we’re resuming our senior blog series.  Today’s post comes from Erik  Stepanovich.  Erik is majoring in AgComm and minoring in Agricultural Business.  

It really bothers me when someone says they’ll make me dinner and then they pull out a frozen pizza from the freezer or a bag of ramen noodles from the cupboard. It amazes me everyday how our generation or just college kids in general don’t know how to cook. By cooking I mean everything is put together from scratch not just from a box. I don’t know if its lack of money, time, creativity or that they really just never learned how. Cooking is not hard. In fact it’s easy once you do it. Being able to cook leads to a healthier lifestyle and if you can’t cook you’re not getting the balanced nutrition you need.

Another excuse I often hear is, “I don’t have enough time to cook.” You can make spaghetti in less than 15 minutes. It takes 10 minutes to boil noodles and even less time to make sauce with meat. Other things might take longer of course but the more you do it the faster you become. Most of my dinners take 20 minutes to prepare unless they’re in the oven. Believe me when I say this, it’s worth it to take time out of your day to stay away from processed and pre-cooked food.

So why don’t people cook? If they say it’s money, I don’t believe it. The average four-

Cooking chicken fried rice is as easy as this…

person family spends 10 percent of its income on groceries. That means as a single person you should spend 2.5 percent of your expenses on food. I go grocery shopping and spend $60 a week between my roommate and myself. That’s 30 dollars for my half. So if you’re eating out I’ll break it down for you. That’s 30 four-piece McNuggets from McDonalds, six 5 dollar foot-longs from Subway, four 8-inch subs from Penn Station or three pizza’s from Papa John’s. So when people tell me they can’t afford to cook and order food out, I laugh because they get maybe one good meal a day, whereas I get to eat three square meals a day.

Some people may feel they just don’t have the creativity to cook. Once again I don’t buy it. Call your grandma, call your mom or even buy a cookbook. They will give you ideas and tell you how to make it. You don’t need to be creative… you just need to know where to look for ideas. Once you’ve made something for the first time from an idea, it’s like second nature to make it again.

Being able to cook has so many health advantages and I’m not sure people see them. By following the food plate you get your daily allowance of fruits, meats, dairy, vegetables, and grains. Eating out or buying processed foods might satisfy some part of the food plate but in an unhealthy way. With eating out and process foods the fat, sugar and salt content is so high it ends up being terrible for you.

The finished product of chicken fried rice

Everyone needs to take a step back and look at cooking in a whole new light. Cooking actually can save you money. It doesn’t take much time once you know what you’re doing and if you don’t know what to make or how, just ask. Cooking’s main benefit is health and you can’t put a price on that.