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.


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.

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.

A word about the bulletin board

On the south wall of the AgComm office sits this bulletin board.  Formerly, it was hanging, but that will be a story for another time.

Right now, I want to give you a tour of our bulletin board.  It tells a lot about the culture of our little office and explains what makes us who we are.

Let’s start with the “Eat Clean” posters pinned in the upper left hand corner.  These prototypes just might be the crown of the bulletin board.  Since last June, we’ve diligently worked on researching for these posters and figuring out how to best communicate vegetable safety to underserved audiences.  We’re happy to say that we’re taking photos for the posters this Friday and we’re quite excited.

Going counter clock-wise, you’ll see a letter to the editor I wrote about Occupy Wall Street and Lisa’s lovely visual representation of “The Labyrinth.”

Continuing counter clock-wise, there’s a gem of a document that Lisa found about phrases commonly used in research and what they really mean.  For example, “While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to the questions” really means “An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published.”  Suffice it so say, this has brought much laughter to the office over the past few months.

The picture of the Village  Vegetable People was printed and hung on the bulletin board when we first started the project.  For some reason, we thought they would be a fitting inspiration for us.  Don’t ask me why.  When we find ourselves bored or not knowing what to do with our time, we play with the Chinese finger trap that is pinned over the Village  Vegetable People picture.

In the office, we frequently talk about vocabulary  and punctuation (I’m not joking about this! )  That’s why there’s a defense of the Oxford Comma on the board.

The newspaper clipping served as inspiration when we initially started discussing how to effectively communicate information about vegetables—a subject that isn’t particularly interesting to many.

Starting in January, the miniseries “Downton Abbey” gained a bit of a cult following among the three females working in the office.  Every Tuesday we’d chat about what happened on Sunday’s episode, and speculate where the show might go.  Eventually, we fell prey to the “Which Downton Abbey Character Are You?” quiz and uncovered startling things about ourselves.  Abigail is Bates, Lisa is Sybil, and I am Matthew.  As Dr. Tucker didn’t participate in the Downton frenzy, we assigned him the character of Carson.  At the top of the poster is this quote from the stately Dowager Countess: “I do hope I’m interrupting something.”  A more apt commentary on our office I cannot think of.

On the topic of quotes, the last item adorning the board is a pithy little dictum from our very own Abigail Borron: “I know the wheel has already been invented.  I just think I can do better.  Just saying…”  Need I say more?

And that, reader, is the culture of our office on a bulletin board.  I hope you enjoyed the tour.


Some Purdue AgComm Students Visit Texas

At the end of February, 14 students from the AgComm program attended the ACT Professional Development Conference at Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX.  The four days of traveling and enjoying Texas  embodied why the Purdue AgComm program stands out among other fields of study at Purdue.

From my perspective, the trademarks of Purdue’s AgComm program are relationships, the priority of the individual student, and a passion for using communication to help the public relate to the field of agriculture.

During our time away, we found ourselves exposed to pockets of American agriculture we didn’t know much about.  From touring denim mills and wineries to walking through windmill and ag history museums, we enjoyed learning about the nuts and bolts of American agriculture.


Touring a denim mill in Lubbock

Thanks to the hard work of Texas ACT, we had some fun opportunities to meet professionals in our field and gain exposure to their work.  I especially enjoyed hearing Wyman Meinzer, an official photographer for the state of Texas, explaining his project of photographing a historic ranch in Texas.  Discussing the details of  the project, Meinzer’s passion for his work showed me the power and satisfaction that comes from doing work that you love.  I’d encourage you to check out the video of his work here.


At the American Museum of Agriculture

Finally, the trip to Texas offered us a chance to build relationships with each other.  In addition to formal schooling, I believe that an important aspect of college is learning how to invest in other people’s lives in a meaningful way.  Texas gave us the time and space necessary to do just that.  Enjoying some great food and drink establishments in Lubbock, touring the sites, playing Euchre, sitting and talking together on bus and airplane rides… the elements of the trip that gave us a chance to get to know each other better.


Suffice it to say, the trip to Texas was a wonderful experience that will go down in my college memory book as a great time of living the life of a Purdue AgComm student.