Spring 2015

Note from the Academic Program Leader: Looking Back to Move Forward

by Dr. Brad Greiman, Academic Program Leader

Brad GreimanWelcome to the spring semester edition of The Ag Ed Enthusiast!

CFANS Communications recently asked me for facts and information about our Agricultural Education program. As I gathered the information, I was pleased and amazed as I looked back to where the program had been in 2009 and where it is today. Some of you may recall that 2009 was a pivotal year for Agricultural Education at the U of M. Our former Department of Work and Human Resource Education closed on July 1, 2009 and Agricultural Education joined Applied Economics in Ruttan Hall. Our new administrative home moved to the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS).

One of the positives since 2009 has been the increase of students in our undergraduate major:

  • The number of students has increased each of the previous six years.
  • Each specialization in the major (Teacher Licensure and Ag Leadership & Communication) has doubled in student numbers!

The development and evolution of the Ag Leadership & Communication specialization has been a major accomplishment. We are fortunate to have Drs. Rebecca Swenson and Marianne Lorensen building this program. They teach leadership and communication courses to students in our major as well as other majors in CFANS.

The just released USDA publication Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources, and the Environment for 2015-2020 provides positive news for our Ag Leadership & Communication graduates:

  • Jobs for communication specialists with social media expertise are increasing.
  • Multimedia skills will be particularly important for jobs in reporting and broadcast news.
  • A growing agritourism industry will employ graduates.
  • Agricultural communication majors will find more opportunities in marketing, event planning, and public relations occupations.

Another positive is the amount of student interest in the post-baccalaureate licensure program. Students at the U of M can select either the undergraduate or graduate option to become licensed to teach secondary agricultural education. We are the only university in Minnesota to offer a licensure option through a Master of Education (M.Ed.) program. Next spring there will be five or six M.Ed. students completing their 12-week teaching internship. We are privileged to have Dr. Amy Smith join me in 2013 as a teacher preparation faculty member.

In support of the M.Ed. pathway to the teaching profession, the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC) started an Initial Licensure Agricultural Education Scholarship program in 2012. The previously noted USDA publication forecasting 2015-2020 employment opportunities stated that “Graduates will find excellent employment opportunities for agriscience teachers in high schools and middle schools.” The teaching landscape of Minnesota supports this statement as demand for agricultural education teachers continues to be strong. Over 30 teaching positions are typically advertised by schools each year, and the number of agricultural education programs has been increasing in Minnesota.

The excellent employment opportunities and increasing demand for our graduates causes me to look to the future of our program. It is clear that one of our goals is to double the number of students in the agricultural education major. Is this goal possible? We did it before and we need to do it again! How is it possible? It will take the collective effort on the part of each of us. As you identify a prospective student in your community, ask him or her to consider an exciting, vital, and rewarding career in agricultural education!

Have a fantastic summer and enjoy this issue as you learn more about Agricultural Education!

Upcoming Events

Friday, May 15, 2015

CFANS Commencement

CFANS Commencement will be held Friday, May 15 at the Northrop Auditorium, University of Minnesota, East Bank. For more information about Commencement, click here or contact the CFANS Student Services Office at cfanssso@umn.edu.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

National Teach Ag Day

National Teach Ag Day is a day to celebrate school-based agricultural education and to encourage advocates to share the great career opportunities in ag ed. The National Teach Ag Day will be held in Washington, D.C. this year. Click here for details.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

FFA Fall Invitational

The invitational is held at the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus, and will bring together FFA members from across the state, as well as U of M students, faculty and staff for a day of Career Development Events and education. More details will be posted on the Minnesota FFA website in the upcoming months!

Congratulations to Our Graduates!

Congratulations and best wishes to our 2014-2015 graduating students from the Agricultural Education division at the University of Minnesota! The CFANS Commencement Ceremony will be held Friday, May 15, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in the Northrop Auditorium.

Graduates include Nathan Anderson, Katelyn Asfeld, Lisa Busack, Rochelle Day, Jared Franke, Rebecca Groos, Teal Kampe, Ethan Lapham, Sarah Lee, Paige Lemke, Jared Luhman, Katie McNab, Stephen Melson, Andrew Miron, Kelsey Mussman, Cassie Olson, Lisa Roker, Brett Schwartz, Christopher Seifert, Eric Seifert, Lauren Servick, Chelsea Vilchis, Sarah Williamson, Hannah Wilts and Katie Winslow. This list consists of students who graduate in Winter 2014, Spring 2015 and Summer 2015.

We are also extremely proud of our graduate students who earned their M.Ed. degrees this year: Bonnie Lohman and Natalie Utsch.

Ag Ed Students Honored at Spring Celebration

Ag Ed Celebration of StudentsA spiffy group of Ag Ed 2014-2015 scholarship winners pose for a photo during the Ag Ed Celebration of Students.

The second annual Agricultural Education Celebration of Students was held Sunday, May 3 at the Cargill Building, St. Paul Campus. Agricultural Education and MAELC scholarship winners, Ag Ed Ambassadors, graduating seniors and graduate students, and Ag Ed Club members were recognized at this event. Cliff Vreize, a passionate and steadfast supporter of agricultural education, was presented with The Spirit Award. Emceed by Ag Ed majors Joe Joyer and Abby Shea, this celebration brought together our students, scholarship donors, stakeholders, faculty and staff for networking and camaraderie.

Ag Awareness Day Brings Animals and Agriculture to the East Bank

Ag Awareness DaySmile and say...llama? Braving the cold weather, Ag Ed Club members Greta Thormodson, Mariah Daninger and Nicole Krumrie pose with a few guests of honor at this year’s Ag Awareness Day.

The Agricultural Education Club hosted the sixth annual Ag Awareness Day on April 21, 2015. Held at Northrop Plaza on the East Bank, the event gave attendees a chance to talk with club members and industry representatives about various aspects of the agriculture industry. Also featured were interactive booths where people came face-to-face with dairy cows, pigs, llamas, sheep and goats! Check out facebook.com/AgAwareness for more photos!

Student Spotlight: Ethan Lapham

by Brandon Roiger, University of Minnesota junior

Ethan LaphamWhen Ethan Lapham called his high school agriculture teacher in the middle of his freshman year at college to tell him he was thinking about switching majors to become an agriculture teacher, Lapham was pretty sure he could hear the smile appear on his face.

Lapham, a senior in Agricultural Education from Caledonia, Minnesota, will become a teacher this fall. He grew up on his family’s farm, raising beef cattle, corn and soybeans. Growing up, Lapham loved to help his dad out on the farm.

“I can remember riding on the tractor with him while doing chores when I was young and helping open up the gates when he was feeding the cows,” Lapham said.

When Lapham was old enough, he joined 4-H and began showing sheep and pigs at the county fair. Eventually, he showed market steers before his “awesome agriculture teacher and FFA advisor” Mr. Brad Harguth got him involved with FFA’s general livestock judging career development event (CDE) as an eighth grader.

“My team and I worked hard and practiced a lot, which paid off my junior year when our team finished second at the Minnesota FFA Convention and as the first place team my senior year,” Lapham said.

That was a great experience for him.

He came to the University of Minnesota in 2011, originally in animal science on the pre-veterinary track. Halfway through the year, he realized he wasn’t happy with his major and decided something had to change.

In the past, Lapham had considered agricultural education, but he never gave it a lot of thought.

“I remember talking to my mom about what I should do with my life and she suggested that I look into ag ed and teaching. I had never really seen myself as much of a teacher,” Lapham said. “My mom went on to say, ‘Ethan, you have an obvious passion for agriculture and your favorite classes in school were ag classes with Mr. Harguth. FFA activities were always something you enjoyed. You are a leader and a positive role model. I think you would make a great teacher.’”

Lapham decided to call his high school agriculture teacher and ask him, too. Mr. Harguth told him the same thing: Lapham had what it takes to teach. Mr. Harguth gave him a rundown on the major, and Lapham began to think about a new future career.

After thinking it over for about a week, Lapham decided to go for it. “I have not regretted the decision ever since, and look forward to a future career in ag ed,” he said.

Lapham has been a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity throughout college, and he has enjoyed having the opportunity to build friendships with men who share a passion for agriculture, food and natural resource sciences just like he does.

One of his favorite college experiences has been going to the Alpha Tau Alpha Conclave in conjunction with National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. He said it was an amazing opportunity to be surrounded with people passionate about agricultural education and help inspire young people in agriculture, food and natural resource sciences.

Lapham gives credit for his success to Mr. Harguth as well as professors Dr. Amy Smith and Dr. Brad Greiman at the University of Minnesota. He has also had a great student teaching experience with Mr. Al Stemper in Foley.

“Mr. Stemper showed me that being an ag teacher isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle,” Lapham said. “Trying to balance all the different hats that an ag teacher wears is sometimes a challenge. He is extremely motivated and driven.”

Lapham is excited to make a difference with his own classroom soon and help students connect knowledge they learn from other courses like science and math to real-world applications in agriculture.

“I am excited to make a difference in the lives of young people the same way that many of my influential teachers made a difference in mine,” Lapham said.

Student Spotlight: Rebecca Groos

by Rebecca Groos, University of Minnesota senior

Rebecca GroosIf college really is the time to go out and experience life, then I say go out and do it.

Hey y’all!! Whoops… I mean, hello everyone. My name is Rebecca Groos, and I’m studying at Oklahoma State University through the National Student Exchange. You might be asking how I got down here and what happened to my northern accent. Don’t worry about the accent, this southern drawl will not last long once I return to Minnesota.

Getting back on track to my original story, I learned about NSE while on a spring break trip with the U of M Agricultural Education Club at Louisiana State University during my sophomore year of college. NSE allows students to attend a different school for the same tuition rate as the U of M or for the tuition rate of the host school (whichever is cheaper) as long as the U of M has a relationship with that potential host school.

I took initiative and decided to get out of my comfort zone my last semester of undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota. I could have graduated with my degree in three and a half years but wanted the full, four-year college experience so I basically had a free semester to do with as I pleased. My purpose for attending NSE was to increase my agricultural communication skill set, thus making myself more marketable when job searching.

After talking to Dr. Amy Smith, she mentioned the tremendous agricultural communications program OSU offers. After researching OSU’s program, I learned they are one of the top programs in the nation, so I was hooked on the idea of going.

I attended OSU to further the specific agricultural communications skill-set I developed while at the U of M in addition to exposing myself to a new faculty, atmosphere and, of course, meeting new people.

The writing classes at OSU honed in on AP-style writing, and the graphic layout and design class taught me the entire Adobe creative suite. I learned agricultural law and took a new media agricultural communications class which focuses on utilizing social media to market both a personal and company brand. My final class was on marketing and consumer behavior.

Outside of school, I learned more about ranching, Native American culture and southern agriculture in general. I found Oklahomans to be friendly, genuine people who wanted to make me feel at home. Stillwater, Oklahoma provided a fun college atmosphere and I made sure to buy authentic western jeans and boots.

My time at OSU was well-spent academically- and socially-speaking - and I am so grateful for the skill-sets I deepened and the connections I made. Oklahoma now holds a special place in my heart and I hope you will consider branching out of your comfort zone and increasing a skill-set if the opportunity presents itself.

Ag Ed Welcomes New Recruiter and Academic Advisor

Sarah LindholmIn late March, the Agricultural Education Division welcomed Sarah Lindholm as its new Recruiting and Academic Advising Counselor. Sarah was formerly the CFANS freshman admissions counselor, recruiting for all majors. Her ties with CFANS are strong - she earned her degree in Nutrition here on the beautiful St. Paul Campus!

Sarah enjoys being organized, meetings over coffee, baking, and crafting. She loves fall, when the leaves are changing colors and the apples are ready for picking! Her favorite animals are Holstein Cows, and her kitchen displays her love for them.

“Throughout the past two and a half years, I have had the extreme pleasure of getting to know the Agricultural Education faculty, staff, and students while being able to increase my knowledge in the area,” Sarah says. “With generally working on building relationships with all CFANS majors in the past, I am prepared and looking forward to narrowing my focus on just the Agricultural Education and Agricultural Industries and Marketing majors. My heart is in these areas and working to change lives by increasing the awareness of agriculture within our communities."

Sarah brings a wealth of experience, energy and passion to this position, and we are excited for our students and stakeholders to continue connecting with her!

Teacher CandidatesOur students sure clean up nicely! Agricultural Education Teacher Licensure students gather before mock interviews with local high school administrators this spring as part of AFEE 5114. To view a list of our Teacher Licensure students and where they completed their student teaching assignments, click here. Our Leadership and Communication students have also been busy this year, completing internships across the country. We are so proud of our students and their accomplishments!

Ag Ed Award Winners Make Our Division Proud!

Ag Ed faculty member Dr. Rebecca Swenson, and Ag Ed students Sarah Lee, Stephen Melson and Katie Winslow have been awarded prestigious honors this year. We are, quite honestly, bursting with pride!

Rebecca SwensonDr. Rebecca Swenson has been named the recipient of the 2015 CFANS Innovation in Undergraduate Education Award. This award recognizes CFANS faculty and staff who have made notable innovations in undergraduate education at the college, department, or program level. Nominees were judged on innovation, positive impact, diversity and inclusion, and engagement. Dr. Swenson was also named Outstanding Professor by the CFANS Student Board. This award recognizes the outstanding teaching efforts of CFANS professors for their contributions to the education of students made during the school year.

Sarah LeeSarah Lee, a senior in our Teacher Licensure track, was named the recipient of the college's Dean E.M. Freeman Medal for 2015. According to the nomination material, "This medal is awarded to a graduating senior who has demonstrated an unusual sense of personal responsibility for the welfare of the University of Minnesota and its community. Special emphasis is placed on involvement in the life and activities of the St. Paul campus. The Dean E.M. Freeman Medal is given both in appreciation of the individual, and as a community statement recognizing the importance of truly outstanding individual contributions."

Stephen Melson, a senior in our Leadership and Communications track, received the 2015 Student Leadership Award from the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences Alumni. This award acknowledges a CFANS student who has completed at least one full year of studies, volunteers his or her services to help the campus and fellow students, and has demonstrated leadership through campus activities outside of the classroom.

Stephen Melson

Katie WinslowKatie Winslow, a senior in our Teacher Licensure track, was honored with the President’s Student Leadership & Service Award. This award recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of outstanding student leaders at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. It is presented to approximately one-half of one percent of the student body for their exceptional leadership and service to the University of Minnesota and the surrounding community.

Congratulations to Dr. Swenson, Sarah, Stephen and Katie on these well-deserved honors!

FFA Events Hosted on St. Paul Campus This Spring

The University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus has been a flurry of activity this spring! The Roland Peterson Agricultural Education Science Fair, Agricultural Communications Career Development Event (CDE), and the Minnesota State FFA Convention brought high school students from across the state to our campus in droves. Their energy, dedication and passion for learning about agriculture was infectious!

Roland Peterson Agricultural Education Science Fair

Agricultural Education Science FairThe 27th Annual Roland Peterson Agricultural Education Science Fair was held on March 19 and was once again a great success. This year’s fair involved 125 students and 106 agricultural science projects. Twelve Minnesota schools participated.

The science fair is a competition for FFA members in grades 7-12 who are enrolled in Agricultural Education courses in public schools across the state of Minnesota. Students conduct research projects pertaining to agriculture and food science the the following categories: Animal Systems, Environmental Services/Natural Resource Systems, Food Products and Processing Systems, Plant Systems, Power-Structural and Technical Systems, and Social Systems. Students present their findings to judges with a display, a verbal report and a written report. Winners in each category and division (Grades 7-9 or Grades 10-12) are eligible to apply for competing in the National FFA Science Fair, held during the National FFA Convention.

Many thanks are due to a host of people who helped make this event a success: Thank you to Lavyne Rada for administering the entire event - from contacting teachers, to setting up registration and grading, to tabulating results. The judges of papers included Dr. Patrick Sheridan (Syngenta), Heather Merck (Syngenta), Danielle Rogers (the Vernon Company), Sara Kuschel (American Farm Bureau) and Kevin Larson (Diamond V). The judges of the research projects were U of M Ag Ed faculty members Dr. Amy Smith, Dr. Brad Greiman and Dr. Roland Peterson, as well as FFA's Dennis Bjorklund. In addition, Dr. Curt Norenberg, Tim Claus, and U of M students Vinz Karl, Shantel Pai, Chelsea Vilchis, Karli Anderson, Elizabeth Abraham and Andrea Clement served as judges. This event would not be possible without the huge support from the Cargill Company. Cargill has financially funded this event for more than a decade, and 10 Cargill employees also served as judges this year. A special thanks to the men of the FarmHouse Fraternity who helped set up all the rooms and volunteered during the day.

FFA Agricultural Communications CDE

Ag Comm CDEThe Agricultural Communications CDE was also held on March 19. The competition required students to submit a media plan and present it to the judges. The contest also included an individual practicum and an AP style and writing mechanics test. The winning team from Forest Lake High School will be moving onto Nationals in the fall. The first place individual was Jacob Just from Morris High School. Congratulations to all for their participation and hard work!

Recent Ag Ed alumna Kelsey Gunderson, Assistant Account Executive at broadhead, coordinated a mock press conference at the event. “It was great to get back on campus and work with Ag Ed faculty and FFA students. The FFA members who participated in the Ag Comm CDE are well on their way to being excellent professionals in the communications and marketing field,” Kelsey said. She continued, “It was fun to work with the Ag Ed faculty who prepared me and are the reason I am a professional in the ag marketing field today.”

The University of Minnesota Agricultural Education Division gives special thanks to the following students and judges who helped coordinate this event: Andres Barajas (U of M student), Becky Beyers (CFANS), Eliza Casper (Exponent PR), Kelsey Gunderson (broadhead), Chris Higgins (PadillaCRT), Blaire Hoven (Exponent PR), Sara Jensen (Agricultural Education), Holly Klinger (CFANS), Brandon Roiger (U of M student), Kari Schwab (MAELC), and Dr. Rebecca Swenson (Agricultural Education and chair of this CDE event).

Minnesota State FFA Convention

FFA Media TeamThe University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus community was thrilled to welcome FFA members for the annual Minnesota State FFA Convention on April 26-28. An incredible 3,560 FFA members and 205 chapter advisors from 161 chapters were in attendance this year! Countless University of Minnesota students, faculty and staff volunteered at this event - planning, judging, tweeting, coordinating... including the rowdy and media-savvy group of U of M Ag Ed students (pictured above) who coordinated the communication, media relations, and social media efforts at Convention.

We were especially proud to recognize U of M Ag Ed students Valerie Earley and Jack Roessler on completing their terms as 2014-2015 Minnesota FFA State Officers, and to congratulate Mariah Daninger and Madison Taylor (current Ag Ed majors) and Morgan Krause (joining us as an Ag Ed major this fall!) on being named 2015-2016 Minnesota FFA State Officers!

AFEE 3480 Students Visit The Capitol

Ag Policy Class

Pictured here (from the middle of the front row, clockwise) are: Rachael Anderson, Greta Tank, Rachel Engel, Emilee Wendorf, Dane Thompson, Eric DeBlieck, Thomas Liepold, Rusty Zimmerman, Stephen Melson, Emma Hoversten, Libby Mills, Lisa Johnson and Matt Frenchick.

Students from AFEE 3480, Agricultural Policy & Advocacy in Minnesota, visited the Capitol on April 14, 2015. This was the third and final visit to the Minnesota State Capitol Complex as a class. The students were guided by Kevin Paap, President of the Minnesota Farm Bureau and had the opportunity to tour and have their picture taken in both the House and Senate chambers. While there, students also met with Dacia Hinkhouse from the House Chief Clerk's Office to learn about non-partisan work at the Capitol, and Senator Dan Sparks, Chairman of the Senate Jobs, Agriculture, and Rural Development Committee to hear an update on current Minnesota agricultural policy issues.

Students Receive Scholarships from MAELC

Twenty-six students have been awarded a Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC) scholarship for the 2015-2016 school year. This year, fifteen incoming freshmen received the Freshman Scholarship, ten of which are attending the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in the fall. Ten undergraduate students (eight of whom are University of Minnesota, Twin Cities students) received the Continuing Agricultural Education Scholarship. MAELC also awarded one M.Ed. Initial Licensure scholarship.

MAELC provides three types of scholarships for students: the Freshman Scholarship for incoming Agricultural Education students attending the University of Minnesota or another Minnesota institution offering Agricultural Education; the Continuing Agricultural Education Scholarship for current college students studying Agricultural Education-Teacher Licensure; and lastly, the Initial Teacher Licensure Scholarship for students who are working toward getting their Masters in Education and teaching license for Agricultural Education.

MAELC is an organization that works to promote and improve the Agricultural Education programs in the state of Minnesota. The Council consists of representatives from various organizations and businesses that are involved in Agricultural Education.

Congratulations to all the MAELC scholarship recipients!

  • University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Freshmen Scholarship Recipients:
    Paige Hildebrandt, Winona Johnson, Morgan Krause, Haely Leiding, Kayla Leiding, Maggie Mills, Joe Ramstad, Audrey Schleper, Adam Stervermer, and Ellyn Swanson
  • University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Continuing Agricultural Education Scholarship Recipients:
    Andrea Clement, Ethan Dado, Mariah Daninger, Michaela Gallup, Jessica Juncewski, Vinz Karl, Tiffiny Vue and Savannah Zippel
  • University of Minnesota, Twin Cities M.Ed. Initial Licensure Scholarship Recipient:
    Elizabeth Eastep

Agricultural Education Scholarship Recipients To Be Announced May 2015

Over $30,000 will be awarded to incoming freshman, transfer students, and current students in the Agricultural Education major. These scholarships for the 2015-16 school year are due to the generous donations from alumni, friends, professional associations and organizations. Students in the Ag Ed major receive one of the highest levels of scholarship support among majors in CFANS and the U of M. Scholarship recipients will be announced later this month.

Stay Connected

Agricultural Education is now online. Stay connected to the latest news and updates by following us on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. Please also visit us at the UMN Agricultural Education Blog!

Submit a Story

We would love to hear from you! Please share your news about any accomplishments or activities within your school or company related to agricultural education, career updates, family news, special recognition, etc. to be included in our newsletter. Please submit your story to Sara Jensen via email.