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LETTER FROM THE DEPARTMENT CHAIR FA L L | 2 0 1 6 I t is an exciting time in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication. It is my pleasure to be serving the faculty, staff, students and stakeholders of AEC as department chair since July 1, 2016. I arrived at the University of Florida with my wife, my just 1-year old son, a side of family farmraised beef on ice, and two cats for what we thought would be a three-year stay in Florida. That was in July of 2001 – 15 ½ years ago! Now that then 1-year old is driving. He has a 10-year old brother. The cats have been replaced by the family dog. My wife and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary in July. Where does the time go? In 2016, we celebrated the legacy of Dr. Ed Osborne’s time as chair of this department – 19 ½ years! He led this department through a time of growth and transition. Under Dr. Osborne’s leadership the department added a Ph.D. program, hit record high enrollment and rose to national preeminence, becoming one of the best departments of our kind in the country. Dr. Osborne returns from a well-deserved professional development leave (sabbatical) in mid-February and we all look forward to hearing about all the great things he learned. When Dr. Osborne returns to the faculty, he will be actively engaged in the teaching, research and extension activities of the department. This year we also celebrated two retiring faculty with the title of Professor Emeritus. Dr. Jim Dyer and Dr. Kirby Barrick both retired on June 30, 2016. Both were actively involved in our programs. Dr. Dyer taught courses at the Plant City location of our academic programs. Dr. Barrick taught many of our graduate courses and was heavily engaged in international work. Both have left a lasting impression on our department. We are also excited to welcome several new faculty to the department – Mrs. Deb Barry (Lecturer in Agricultural Education), Mrs. Kati Lawson (Lecturer in Communication/Leadership Development) Dr. Matt Sowcik (Assistant Professor of Agricultural Leadership), Dr. Cecilia “CC” Suarez (Assistant Professor of Agricultural Leadership) and Dr. John Diaz (Assistant Professor of Extension Education). We also welcome Dr. James “J.C.” Bunch (Assistant Professor of Agricultural Education) who arrived on January 1, 2017.

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Dr. Brian E. Myers, Professor and Chair As you can see, great things are happening in Agricultural Education and Communication at the University of Florida. I thank you for partnering with us as we work to equip individuals and teams to make more informed decisions about agriculture and natural resources. Go Gators!

on the cover

Fall commencement: Dr. Amy Harder and Dr. Grady Roberts place a doctoral hood on AEC alumna Dr. Bertrhude Albert during the December 2016 commencement ceremony held at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Photo credit: University of Florida Relations

CO NT E NTS AECREVIEW FALL 2016 | Published biannually UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural Education and Communication 305 Rolfs Hall PO Box 110540 Gainesville, FL 32611-0540 352-392-0502 aec.ifas.ufl.edu Editor Andrea Davis Copy Editors Dr. Brian Myers Dr. Ricky Telg



ADVOCATES FOR AGRICULTURE AEC students work as advocates to recruit prospective students.


WASHINGTON LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE AEC student Jake White is hired to facilitate leadership conference.


AGRICULTURE TEACHERS IN HIGH DEMAND AEC alumni highlight the need for agriscience teachers nationwide.


DR. LISA LUNDY: WATER CONSERVATION AND RELIGION Lundy studies the relationship between water conservation & religion.


DR. KATIE STOFER: TALKING SCIENCE WITH THE COMMUNITY Stofer goes on mission to get the community talking about science.



¡VIVA LA CUBA! AEC faculty member Dr. Hannah Carter visits Cuba.

Writers Corey Darnell Sarah Edison Julia Morgan Megan Stein Gordon Yoder


DOCTORAL COMMENCEMENT: FALL 2016 AEC doctoral candidates participate in Fall commencement exercises.


SEMESTER IN REVIEW: FALL 2016 Photos highlight department events from the Fall semester.

Pictured in photo: AEC faculty members travel to Old Havana, Cuba with Wedgworth Leadership Institute (WLI) for WLI’s alumni international trip Photo credit: Dr. Ricky Telg


AEC SCHOLARSHIPS & ENDOWMENTS Nearly $20,000 in scholarships awarded to undergraduates each year.


AEC VISION & MISSION AEC mission & vision help guide department in reaching goals.

Graphic Designer Andrea Davis




he Agricultural Education and Communication Department at the University of Florida (UF) is among the country’s best in developing leaders, educators and communicators to meet society’s challenges in agricultural and life sciences. Among these students are 13 individuals who were hand-picked by faculty to serve the department as department advocates. The students from this advocate team help with the recruitment of undergraduate students into the department, introducing prospective students to the agricultural education 4 | FALL 2016


and communication academic program and sharing with prospective students the benefits and career opportunities the department can provide them. Some of these benefits include the diverse array of department course offerings in areas such as effective written and oral communication, video production, graphic design, teacher education and leadership development. The advocate team strives to communicate the department’s degree versatility, demonstrating the department’s ability to cater to students with career goals in the agricultural industry and beyond.

Part of the advocates’ recruitment efforts include attending a variety of university and statewide events and visiting Florida high schools to scout for prospective students for the undergraduate academic program.

At UF Preview, an orientation program for new students at the university, the advocates are able to mingle with new and prospective AEC students, helping them to get acclimated to UF student life and introducing them to the department.

Events include UF Preview, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) Kickoff, CALS TailGator, Florida FFA Convention and Expo, Santa Fe College Gator Day and the UF Majors and Minors Fair.

During a recent UF Preview session, undergraduate student Olivia Pope shared her personal testimony on how the AEC academic program has impacted her.

While recruiting at these events, the advocates are able to talk with hundreds of prospective students, offering personal testimonials on how AEC has impacted them as a student and helped them to reach their professional goals.

“AEC is truly a special department. It’s like a family, with small class sizes and personalized instruction from faculty,” Pope said. To find out more about the AEC advocate program, please visit aec.ifas.ufl.edu/ undergraduate.


2016-2017 ADVOCATES


Pictured in photos: (Previous page) AEC advocates Savannah Woodall (left) and Kate Douberly (right) visit Santa Fe College to promote the department. (Current page) Dr. Hope Kelly, Coordinator, Online Education; Dr. Brian Myers, Department Chair; Kylie Blankenship, AEC advocate and Becky Trammell, Academic Program Specialist visit the Florida FFA Convention and Expo.






o do what we can, with what we have, where we are,” echoes through the halls of a hotel in Washington D.C. each summer. It is a phrase that will be used as a guiding principle by Jake White, agricultural education and communication student at the University of Florida, as he teaches thousands of high school students this summer about service. White has been hired to serve as a facilitator this summer for the National FFA Organization’s Washington Leadership Conference. He was selected as one of 12 facilitators from all over the country that guide students to develop their potential for leadership through 6 | FALL 2016

hands-on learning and service. The conference has taken place in Washington D.C. since its inception in 1969. FFA members attend the five-day leadership conference from all 50 states from June through July. Students and facilitators both see value in the conference. Hannah Nelson, Washington Leadership Conference director, has worked with the program for three years and continues to see the influence the program has on its students. “The unique, hands-on way WLC leads students through concepts like purpose, diversity, advocacy and service sticks with them long after they go home,” Nelson said. “WLC broadens

students’ perspectives and equips them with the tools to make positive change in their communities.” The conference follows a “self to service” model. The first day of the conference is titled “Me.” Wednesday challenges students to individually find their purpose. Students start the day off with a tour of Arlington National Cemetery. The evening is complete with a night tour of the national mall. Thursday is all about, “We.” Facilitators are tasked with instructing students and guiding students’ learning experience as they tour the Capitol. The fourth day of WLC is titled, “Do.” FFA members learn how

to advocate first-hand. The day includes touring the state-of-theart Newseum, a museum focused on the developments in media, and creating their own museum of knowledge. The week is capped off Saturday with teaching students how to “Serve.” FFA members get the ability to put their new skills into action by participating in a service project. Thousands of meals are hand packed by students and are donated to local food banks. While the whole week at the conference is memorable, White said he looks forward to the end of the week the most. “Saturday of the WLC week is by far my favorite,” White said. “This is a really impactful day for students, as they truly begin to grasp and implement the concept of service they have been learning about all week while they pack over 50,000 meals for the underprivileged in the Washington D.C. area.” White is familiar with the conference schedule because this summer will be his second season working with the program. Nelson, director, is excited to have him back for another year. “Jake White is an excellent addition to the WLC team,” Nelson said. “I can’t wait for students to be around his authentic, high-energy and thoughtful teaching style. Jake’s a great example for young people, and he makes all students feel welcome and valued throughout their WLC experience.” White also has a great impact

“THE MOST REWARDING ASPECT OF BEING A PART OF WLC IS SEEING THE IMPACT STUDENTS WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE ON THEIR COMMUNITIES AFTER RETURNING HOME.” on his fellow facilitators. Hannah Dugger, conference facilitator for 2015 and 2016, admires White’s abilities and competence in all tasks. “Working with Jake last year made me see his utter uniqueness to take the broad, intimidating concept of service and filter it in a way that inspires every one of his students to leave WLC and take action,” Dugger said. “I’ve never witnessed anyone build a substantial and constructive connection with our youth the way Jake White does.” Throughout the week, students will formulate a Living to Serve, or LTS, plan. These plans revolve around a need the students see in their communities. Once they have a plan in mind, they work closely with their facilitators to develop feasible steps to put their plans

DEPARTMENTAL BUZZ into action. Facilitators also create these plans and live them out, as the students will do. White’s Living to Serve plan is volunteering with HOPE, a Gainesvillearea nonprofit that focuses on providing equine-based therapy for children and veterans. White’s experience around livestock is an asset to the program. “I grew up on a cattle ranch in Oregon. I developed a passion for horses at a very young age,” White said. “Seeing a need for people living with disabilities to experience the same joy that comes from riding horses, I devoted my LTS Plan to providing that experience to the patients of HOPE.” The Living to Serve plan is the capstone project of the fiveday conference. These service plans help guide students to serve in their homes and communities once they have returned from the conference. White said he is excited to spend his summer in our nation’s capital with the conference to serve as the catalyst of change to his future students. “The most rewarding aspect of being a part of WLC is seeing the impact students will continue to make on their communities after returning home,” White said. “With new groups of students attending the upcoming conference season, I am excited to have a hand in the positive changes they will make in the lives of others.” 7 | AECREVIEW





ince its launch in 2009, the National Teach Ag Campaign, developed by the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE), has developed awareness regarding the issue of high demand for agriscience teachers throughout the nation. As part of this campaign, NAAE is urging students and young professionals to teach agriculture. However, despite these efforts, a deficit of agriscience teachers still exists, with educators remaining in high demand. “In 2015, there was a deficit of four hundred agricultural education positions in the U.S.” NAAE said. These positions either went unfilled or were filled by 8 | FALL 2016


educators without certification in agriculture. Even though Florida is home to one of the top universities in the nation in terms of enrollment for agricultural education, the University of Florida, there were still many unfilled positions in the state. Though the enrollment within the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC) at UF remains strong, with 49 undergraduates currently enrolled in the teacher education specialization, many students have taken their degrees and used them outside of the classroom, in corporate or nontraditional career roles. Clay Sapp of Madison County, Florida is an example of this. Sapp graduated from AEC in the teacher education

specialization. However, Sapp, currently a law student, chose to use his knowledge of agricultural education to pursue law. “While I may one day teach our youth about the agriculture industry in a traditional classroom environment, my hope today is to defend the industry in a courtroom,” Sapp said. Statistically, Sapp is just one out of a large group of students who have graduated with a degree in agricultural education and used their degree to pursue non-traditional career options. According to NAAE, the real problem is not the recruitment of agricultural education students, but rather the ability to retain them. Jobs outside of the classroom may offer higher salaries, travel opportunities and a greater ability to grow in their career. This was the case for Brian Walsh, Virginia Tech graduate. Upon graduation, Walsh was offered a position with the Virginia Farm Bureau offering him a position with a strong starting salary, while also being offered a teaching position in Florida. Walsh chose to teach.

Walsh takes great pride in developing student knowledge about the agricultural industry and watching students develop into informed consumers and effective leaders. “I do it for the students, even that one student, the one who comes in with no knowledge of agriculture and leaves the school as an informed consumer, effective leader, and well on their way to success.” Agriscience teachers’ job roles often extend beyond the classroom, with many teachers serving as National FFA Organization (FFA) advisors. In this additional role that extends “beyond the school bell,” teachers are responsible for facilitating career development teams, officer teams and after school meetings. In addition to these extra responsibilities, agriscience teachers often supervise FFA camps and conventions during the summer. These events occur outside the teachers’ standard 10-month contract. While fostering knowledge in young minds is a rewarding experience, agriscience teachers

DEPARTMENTAL BUZZ hope that one day their profession will be valued just as much as other positions in the job market. “As much I value my students, I want my profession to be valued too” Walsh said. It is the hope of organizations like NAAE and FFA that agriscience teachers will receive more competitive compensation in the coming years. As part of the National Teach Ag Campaign, NAAE has also developed the “Tagged to Teach Ag” campaign, aiming to “tag” high school students interested in agricultural education to pursue the career field. The campaign pairs high school students with university agricultural education faculty members who then act as mentors while the students are exploring their career paths. To find out more about the “Tagged to Teach Ag” campaign, please visit naae.org/teachag. To find out more about pursuing a degree in agricultural education, please visit aec.ifas.ufl.edu/ undergraduate/agriculturaleducation.

Pictured in photos: AEC teacher education alumna Cacee Hilliard works diligently as an FFA advisor, in addition to her role as an agriscience teacher, to prepare students for an upcoming career development event (CDE).





r. Lisa Lundy is no stranger to the University of Florida. Lundy, an Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC) alumna, recently returned to the University of Florida to help advance the department’s agricultural communication program, most recently in the areas of public perception research. Lundy began her academic journey in the UF College of Journalism and Communications, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising. Lundy then went on to earn a master’s degree and doctorate from AEC in 2001 and 2004, respectively. Prior to her relocation back to Gainesville, Lundy spent 11 years at Louisiana State University (LSU), where she held many honors. Lundy, an accredited public relations (APR) professional, taught public relations for nine years and served as an associate dean for sponsored research and programs for two years. Currently, Lundy works in the department as an associate 10 | FALL 2016

professor of agricultural communications, where she has been since she returned to Gainesville during the summer of 2015.

among different demographics, but could relate to those communities and people with a strong religious background.

In addition to her teaching appointment, Lundy is involved in several research projects ranging from the use of storytelling in agricultural communications to public perceptions of water conservations efforts.

Lundy says that many people see a water conservation need in third world countries, willing to donate money to these countries for conservation efforts, but will not change anything here. This contradiction is what she is out to solve.

More recently, Lundy has been working on a water conservation study that aims to discover if there is a relationship between water conservation and religious affiliation.

Currently Lundy is in the data collection phase of the research. She is involved in several surveys- one that was conducted in the state of Florida and another to be done nationally.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average household consumes more than 300 gallons of water per day. A large portion of that water goes to outside usage. This is the area that Lundy is targeting for conservation efforts.

These surveys will help determine the best course of action to take in implementing change in public water usage. Lundy believes this will be done through local communication strategies rather than government policies, but only time will tell.

The research shows the high impact group are people who see an importance in plentiful water but do not engage in water conservation efforts. This varies






science outreach program called Talk Science With Me, designed by Dr. Katie Stofer, agricultural education and communication research assistant professor, has brought Alachua County community members and University of Florida scientists together to talk about science. Stofer designed the program with the purpose to get people to think about science in a new way. The program has been successful because it creates a unique setting that allows scientists and community members to come together and have casual conversations about science, Stofer said. “I thought a lot about what to call this,” Stofer said. “It’s not talking to the community. It’s talking with the community.” Stofer wants to show people that science as a profession is different from what they learned in school. In grade school, science is taught out of a textbook, requiring the memorization of technical terms, taking notes and tests. Science as a profession, however, is hands-

on, uses critical thinking and solves real problems. Stofer said Talk Science With Me can address issues that may have caused people to think of the sciences as boring, hard or irrelevant. To reach people with that perception, she set up the Talk Science With Me events in places people go, like bars, coffee shops and libraries. “It’s a matter of going to the community rather than asking them to come to the university,” Stofer said. Embarking on a mission to change perception doesn’t come without its challenges, however. “Changing perceptions is a lot harder than forming new ones,” Stofer said. The idea of science arouses memories of classroom desks, lectures and pressure to make a certain grade. These memories and experiences can be tough to contend with, and that is why Stofer places emphasis on community members bonding with scientists.

The program shows others that scientists are real people and members of their community, she said. “This can be helpful, especially to students who might be considering science careers but have a limited view of the types of science they can do.” Stofer measures success by the depth and topic of a conversation. Essentially, Stofer is asking: “Are people able to converse with scientists in a different way than they do at a lecture?” The goal of Talk Science With Me goes beyond science outreach. It’s about connecting with people and talking about common issues people face. “In the long-term, we’ll have better relations between community members and professional scientists,” Stofer said. “Someday, community members may even help shape the types of research professional scientists do.”





epartment of Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC) faculty affiliated with the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources (Wedgworth) recently embarked on a fiveday adventure to Cuba with 27 program alumni. Wedgworth Alumni from six out of the nine total program classes participated in the trip. Wedgworth, an agriculturalbased leadership program led by AEC associate professor Dr. Hannah Carter develops and refines leadership capacities in 12 | FALL 2016


professionals within Florida’s agriculture and natural resource industry. The program is sponsored by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) with an academic home in AEC. Wedgworth’s recent visit to Cuba in May allowed program members to further develop these leadership capacities, while learning more about an agricultural industry in a country only 90 miles south of the state of Florida. “I have always had an interest in taking a group to Cuba,” said Carter, Wedgworth program

director. “With its close proximity to our state, the similarities in crops grown and growing conditions to those in Florida and the large number of CubanAmericans in the state, it only made sense that this program needed to learn more about the country.” The trip was a joint effort between Carter, Bill Messina of the Department of Food and Resource Economics and Dr. Fred Royce of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Messina and Royce had immense knowledge of the country and traveled alongside the group throughout their time in Cuba. While in Cuba, the group visited a number of agricultural

operations including a stateowned citrus company, UBPC de la Empresa Citricos Ceiba, and an urban farm. The group also had the opportunity to meet several Cuban officials including Minister of Agriculture Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero to learn more about how Cuba’s history has affected it’s agricultural industry and the opportunity for future trade deals with the United States. Rodriguez Rollero discussed the recent citrus greening epidemic. He explained that greening has not only taken a toll on Florida citrus, but has affected Cuba’s citrus industry as well.

SPECIAL FEATURES Cuba working together after the current embargo is lifted to solve the problem of greening rather than acting as competitors. Carter said that she was pleased with the experiences she had on the trip, noting that she particularly enjoyed learning more about Cuba first-hand. “Any expectation I had was exceeded,” said Carter. “To see the Cuban culture, agriculture and infrastructure of the country first-hand was an incredible learning experience.”

Rodriguez Rollero expressed the importance of Florida and

Pictured in photos: (Clockwise from top left) The Wedgworth alumni group pauses to take a photo during a recent visit to Cuba; Historic buildings in Old Havana; the Wedgworth alumni group explores Old Havana; Vehicles from the 1950s cruise the streets of Havana.



Pictured in photos: (Clockwise from top) AEC doctoral graduate, Dr. Priscilla Zelaya, is “hooded” by AEC faculty members Dr. Amy Harder and Dr. Grady Roberts; AEC doctoral graduate Dr. Bertrhude Albert enters the Stephen C. O’Connell center for commencement waiving the Haitian flag; AEC doctoral graduate, Dr. Kara Cupoli, escorted by AEC faculty member, Dr. Hannah Carter, enter the O’Connell Center for commencement. AEC doctoral graduate, Dr. Caitlin Bletscher, escorted by AEC faculty member, Dr. Tony Andenoro, follow behind. Photos courtesy of University Relations.

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Pictured in photos: (Clockwise from top) Dr. Amy Harder, Dr. Priscilla Zelaya and Dr. Bertrhude Albert enter the O’Connell Center for commencement; Dr. Caitlin Bletscher is hooded by faculty members; Dr. Bertrhude Albert is hooded by Dr. Amy Harder and Dr. Grady Roberts; AEC faculty and doctoral candidates take front row at the fall doctoral commencement exercises. Photos courtesy of University Relations.



Pictured in photos: (Clockwise from top) AEC undergraduates visit Plant City, Florida strawberry fields on an agricultural industry tour; AEC master’s student Adeola Ogunade (pictured right) serves as a social media corps team member at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) conference; AEC undergraduate students in Dr. Lisa Lundy’s Communication Campaign Strategies (AEC4052) course present their final campaign presentations.

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Pictured in photos: (Clockwise from top) Collegiate FFA students create float promoting agriculture for UF homecoming parade held in October; Agricultural Communicators and Leaders of Tomorrow (ACLT) members pose for a picture while attending the annual “Halloween Hoopla” party; New AEC graduate students attend graduate student orientation at Smathers Library; AEC faculty members (pictured left to right) Dr. Tony Andenoro, Dr. Matt Sowcik, Dr. Nicole Stedman, Dr. Cecilia “CC” Suarez and Dr. Hannah Carter attend International Leadership Association (ILA) annual meeting in Atlanta; AEC faculty, staff and students serve lemonade and sweet tea during Florida FFA Friends and Family Tailgate held in September.



With 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.


Gifts to any of our funds, as well as general department gifts, can be made online at https://www.uff.ufl.edu/OnlineGiving/ FundDetail.asp?FundCode=016319. 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. 18 | FALL 2016

ENDOWED UNDERGRADUATE SCHOLARSHIPS Carl E. Beeman Bishop Brothers G. Q. Bussell Omar Ergle-Floyd Philmon Elton Hinton Richard & Nell Kelly Travis Loften Max McGhee Carl & Jean Rehwinkel Ryan Rimmer Marion Roche John & Ethel Stephens D. A. Storms


Cope & Edna Newbern Endowment





The 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 evidencebased practice in education, communication, and leadership.


To be distinguished by our impact on practice, value to stakeholders, scholarly contributions to the discipline, and leadership in the profession.


AECREVIEW UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural Education and Communication 305 Rolfs Hall PO Box 110540 Gainesville, FL 32611-0540 352-392-0502 aec.ifas.ufl.edu

AEC REVIEW | Fall 2016  

University of Florida Department of Agricultural Education and Communication | AEC REVIEW | Fall 2016

AEC REVIEW | Fall 2016  

University of Florida Department of Agricultural Education and Communication | AEC REVIEW | Fall 2016

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