National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow Wed, 19 Apr 2017 18:55:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 PDC Blog Post by Hunter Howard Mon, 09 Jan 2017 19:21:58 +0000 [...]]]> College Station in a Nutshell: Your guide to having a great time at 2017 PDC


College Station is the location of Texas A&M University, deep in the heart of Aggieland. From the outside, Aggies might seem to have a few traditions that seem strange, but for me and the friends that I have there, Aggies are the nicest and most welcoming people you could meet (Unless you start talking football).


You might be travelling to College Station for the first time this week. Maybe it’s your first time in Texas. Make the most of your trip! I’ll list some of the must-sees while you’re at PDC.


  1. Kyle Field & 12th Man Productions


Witness the insanely large and the incredible craftsmanship of Kyle Field as well as the behind the scenes action during our tour.

“Over the past two years, Kyle Field underwent one of the largest and most extensive redevelopment project in the history of collegiate athletics. The redeveloped Kyle Field features an expanded seating capacity of 102,733, making it one of the five largest stadiums in collegiate football. The $485 million redevelopment was completed in two phases and made its debut for the 2015 season. The Aggies have welcomed more than 100,000 fans per contest to Kyle Field since the start of the 2014 season, including the stadium record of 110,633 for the Ole Miss game on Oct. 11, 2014.”


2) Royalty Pecan Orchard


Through PDC, attendees will have the opportunity to tour the inner workings of a pecan orchard. Royalty Farms is family owned and operated and features a gift shop. With a variety of pecans, there’s not much this place can’t make out of pecans. Bread, coffee, pies and plain old pecans. YUM!


3) Dixie Chicken and the rest of Northgate


Dixie Chicken is the original birthplace of the Aggie Ring Dunk )If you don’t know what that is, you’ll need to look that up yourself), but they also have some pretty good food and it’s not that far from the hotel. Northgate features a variety of restaurants and places to grab a refreshing beverage if you get thirsty.


4) Texas A&M Equine Center


Another tour available is the the tour of the equine center. Texas A&M University is home to several state-of-the-art facilities dedicated to the care and use for horses, all in support of the teaching, research, outreach and service mission of the university. There are four total facilities in use, including the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex, the Dick Freeman Arena & Equestrian Center, the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, and the Reproduction Pavilion. Each of theses has a specific role in the education of Aggies with an interest in equine.
I’m not an Aggie, so I don’t know as much about TAMU as they would, but don’t be hesitate to ask around and don’t forget to give a friendly “Howdy” to everyone you see.

2017 PDC at Texas A& M Wed, 07 Dec 2016 15:32:37 +0000 [...]]]> 2017 ACT Professional Development Conference Registration
Register online at
Register by phone:  979-845-2604

On-site check-in and packet pick up will open at 3 p.m. on Thursday, January 12, in the lobby of the Cavalry Court Inn (the conference hotel). The brand new hotel is adjacent to the main campus at Texas A&M. If your group arrives early and would like to take a tour of the A&M Campus, please contact the A&M Visitor’s Center (in the directory attached to this letter). A mixer is planned for Thursday evening.
Registration/packet pick up at the hotel will be open until 8 p.m. and then open again in the hotel Friday morning at 7 a.m.
The primary headquarters for the event will be the Agriculture and Life Sciences Building and neighboring AgriLife Center. The Friday group tours will depart from the hotel and will return to the hotel in the late afternoon. The tours are planned so all participants will get to visit the three tour stops. Lunch will be provided on the tour. Dinner Friday evening will be part of the event, and the final arrangements for the location are pending.
Saturday’s professional development concurrent sessions will be at the AgriLife Center. Students should dress business professional or in business casual as professional headshots will be among the options on the program. The Saturday sessions will end with lunch and a brief National ACT Business meeting, which will include an opportunity for chapters to pitch their proposals for the 2019 PDC meeting. We plan to adjourn by 2 p.m. Saturday.
Dinner Thursday evening is on your own. We have included a list of our favorite eating places. The hotel can give you directions, and some are in walking distance from the hotel.

Places to eat:
Dixie Chicken
Harvey Washbangers
Longhorn Tavern Steakhouse
Chicken Oil Company
Hullabaloo Diner
Smitty K’s

Cavalry Court Inn
200 Century Court
College Station, Texas 77840
$125 per double room
Group code:   PDC17CC
Complimentary Wi-Fi in all rooms, self-parking, Continental breakfast, shuttle service to and from Easterwood Airport and within a 5-mile radius of the Hotel
Texas A&M University Visitor’s Center
Phone: (979) 845-5851?Email: Rudder Tower
Address: 401 Joe Routt Blvd

Parking Passes for on-campus (Saturday)
Contact Deb Dunsford at 979-458-3389 or

A Trip To The Arch by Hunter Howard Tue, 11 Oct 2016 15:43:39 +0000 [...]]]> A Trip to the Arch


This past year was my second year as a member of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, my first trip to Ag Media Summit and my second trip to St. Louis.

St. Louis was just as I had remembered it from my first visit: a hot, albeit beautiful, wet blanket. Being from Lubbock, Texas, I am used to dry heat, which I can handle. When you combine my corn-fed, Texas physique into a humid environment, things start to deteriorate pretty quickly. Other than that, I love the city. The proximity to the ballpark, the beauty of the Mighty Mississippi River and the plethora of good chow made for a lovely trip.

My first Ag Media Summit was way more than I had originally bargained for. The whole reason I had the opportunity to go was due to a logo design contest some half-a-year back. I entered a design on a whim (and the fact that we got extra credit points in my graphic design class) and I ended up getting first and a paid registration to AMS. As most of you know, it isn’t cheap, so it was the opportunity of a lifetime.

The opening reception/party was a great opportunity to get a taste and a feel for the ballpark. Hanging out with old friends and meeting new ones was the perfect way to start the summit.

The deep-dive sessions that started the next day were some the most in-depth and informative sessions that I have ever had the pleasure of being involved in. My only regret is that I didn’t have the opportunity to go to every single one. I personally went to the Russell Viers Adobe InDesign Sessions because of my eventual goals of being in print media. Viers works for Adobe as a certified instructor and it shows. The amount of little changes you can make to a document to make your life easier are eye opening. His mastery of his craft is a culmination of his passion and his desire to teach and share what he has learned is incredible.

After the InDesign sessions with Viers, I went to the Risk Communications in the 21st Century session with Kasisomayajula Viswanath, Ph.D. He told us to call him “Vish” for ease. Viswanath went over situations with us covering what it’s like to incur a crisis with today’s social media and everyone’s multiple sources for information. One example he gave us was Nestle’s Maggi Noodle ban that happened in mid-2015 and how they handled it. The session offered very informative and crucial skills that you’d need if you were planning on pursuing a job in PR.

I would cover all that I went to, but those were my favorites and I don’t want to ramble. I’d also like to take this time to introduce myself, your newly elected Member Relations Coordinator for the National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. My name is Hunter Howard and I’m an agricultural communications major at Texas Tech University. I’m from a small town called Krum, Texas, and I love where I come from. My parents are my biggest inspiration and I love college football. I am a member of the Texas Tech Triathlon Team and I shoot wedding videos for my own company, Captis Vita. We, as an officer team, will have a more in-depth “Meet the Officer Team” blog post coming out later this month, so be on the lookout for that!

A big thanks from the officer team for reading and a big “Wreck ‘Em Tech” from myself!

-Hunter Howard

First time at Ag Media Summit? No sweat! Tue, 19 Jul 2016 19:10:33 +0000 [...]]]> by Kelsey Litchfield, National ACT Member Relations CoordinatorKelsey

I remember it like it was yesterday. Driving into downtown Indianapolis with my fellow University of Illinois ACT members all excited and nervous for the days ahead. Looking back at my first Ag Media Summit I wish I wouldn’t have been so intimidated! But hey, I was only a freshman.

The conference was full of activities and new people. My favorite session was about photography. With my laptop in hand, I learned about photo editing programs and how to capture the right images. Two summers later and I’m excited to further my skills this year in St. Louis.

Heading into my senior year and two Ag Media Summits under my belt, I want to encourage all of you first timers. It is such an exciting time to be with others who share the same passion as you. It can also be nerve wracking to stand among some of the best in the industry. Here are some tips on making your first to Ag Media Summit a successful one.

  • Dress business casual. You will be networking with other students and professionals. Have fun and be creative! It will show your personality and make you feel comfortable. Pack a dressier outfit for the Tuesday night awards dinner.
  • Bring business cards. You never know if your future boss is standing right in front of you. No need to bring resumes or cover letters. Professionals are here to network but not to hold a job interview. Get to know them and their career by just talking with them!
  • Don’t skip out on sessions. You may have gotten no sleep the night before, but that’s not an excuse! Chug some coffee and go learn about skills that will be beneficial to your future career.
  • Explore the city. Yes, you are there for a conference and to learn (see above). However, there is plenty of time on Monday night to go to a nice restaurant with your new friends!
  • Attend the Info Expo. It is a huge networking opportunity. You are able to talk with professionals while potentially looking for what company you may want to work with. You also get freebies. Who doesn’t want to go home with free stuff? (Just keep your suitcase under 50 pounds!)
  • Enjoy yourself. Ag Media Summit is only once a year. You are in a place with people who share the same passion. Take advantage of your time and go home feeling rejuvenated.

I’ll be stalking around Ag Media Summit with my camera in tow taking pictures! Be sure to attend our welcome session on Sunday followed by a visit to Osborn Barr. You also don’t want to miss our business meeting and elections (consider running for an office!) on Tuesday at 4:30.

For those of you unable to attend, you can be right there with us on social media. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Common Sense Tips for Submitting Your Critique and Contest Entry Tue, 05 Apr 2016 03:40:40 +0000 [...]]]> Allison

Allison Fortner, University of Georgia

by Allison Fortner, NACT Vice-President

As the spring semester comes to a close, you may begin to reflect on the pieces of work you spent hours perfecting throughout the course of the year. Maybe you got a grade or published the piece and moved on to the next item in your portfolio. But there is no reason your work should be forgotten. Submitting your work to the National ACT’s Critique and Contest is the best way to see how your work stacks up against other ag comm students from across the nation. Don’t know much about C&C? Don’t worry, it’s a simple process, and I’ll guide you through some common sense tips for successful submission.


Getting to know the contest layout

Critique and Contest is our national communications and journalism competition for ACT members. This contest allows students the opportunity to have their work analyzed by professionals and judged against members across the nation. Categories include writing, publication, electronic media, photography, design & layout and public relations. You can enter most of these categories through the online platform All publication division categories except “online publications” must be mailed in.


Online submission madness

If you have never used, don’t stress about it. Simply set up an account using the Submission Guide on our I suggest you create this account as soon as possible and submit your work. If something gets messed up in your entry, I may be able to let you know. If there are errors with your submission, there is no guarantee you will have the opportunity to resubmit before the deadline.


Read those rules

Also on is a handy dandy set of rules that require your attention. There might be several small rules you overlook, such as the required size of photo submissions, how writing category entries should look in manuscript form and the medium for video submissions. Our judges are excited to see some fantastic student work, and we don’t want them to miss yours because it’s in the wrong file format.


Use that first free entry

Whether you’re a freshman or a seasoned ACT member, chances are you have at least one piece for which you would like some feedback. Your first submission is free. That’s right. No charge. That’s like getting a free large cup of high quality coffee just handed to you, except this will help your career. All subsequent entries are $5 per submission. Be sure to mail your check to Dr. Cartmell at Oklahoma State and make sure you’re a paid National ACT member so we can accept your entry.


Submit your entry today

It’s inevitable that your schedule will get crazier as the semester’s end draws near. Whether finals loom over you or group projects begin to consume your life, school will only get more stressful. Decide what you want to submit, make sure it’s in the correct format and submit your entry during your next free moment. You’ll feel so much better after you have this checked off your list, not to mention the satisfaction of knowing you can meet a deadline with time to spare.


Still scared to take the plunge?

If you are on the fence about submitting your work or have questions, please email me at We want this year’s competition to be the best yet, and you can make this possible! Good luck and we’ll see you at the Critique and Contest Awards at Ag Media Summit!

7 Reasons Why Missing Class Is Okay Sun, 06 Mar 2016 23:25:58 +0000 [...]]]> We’ve all had it happen to us in our college careers. You really want to go to that career fair on campus, attend a professional development conference, interview with a company for an internship, or participate in an extracurricular event, but you can’t; because you have to go to class. Well, I am here to tell you it is okay to skip class on occasion, however, you have to know how to balance your academic and extracurricular experiences. Let’s set one thing straight, I am NOT telling you that it is okay to miss class because of general laziness such as oversleeping or hanging out with your friends. I am telling you that it is okay to miss class because you are trying to better yourself personally or professionally. There is a way to balance out your priorities as a student for both in and out of class experiences. So in case you are worried that skipping a class will ruin your grades or cause you to fail out of college, here are seven reasons why missing class is okay:

  1. Missing Class Doesn’t Mean Your GPA Will Be Ruined

Missing one day does not mean that you will fail out of college. Most professors post the notes online for lectures, so you can reference them to get the information you missed in class. If they don’t post the lecture notes, talk to a person in the class and get the notes from them – most students will share their notes if you ask politely.

  1. Professors Understand When You Miss Class

Talking to your professors before you miss class is key to balancing missing class and still getting the information needed to understand the concepts taught by the class. Most professors understand when you miss class when you take an opportunity to better yourself personally and professionally. Some professors will even work with you if you have a test or presentation scheduled the day you plan to miss. Having a letter of excuse from a faculty member is also a great idea to help persuade professors that may be a little less lenient about you missing class.

  1. You Can Learn More Outside of the Classroom than Within

There is only so many things you can learn in a classroom, however, outside of the classroom there is a lot to discover as well. Taking risks and learning something new by stepping outside of a classroom really challenges you to grow as a person. You will not necessarily be working in a classroom in the real world, so go out and learn what you want to do outside of those classroom walls.

  1. Class Is Only Part Of The College Experience

In college, there are many unique experiences you can have, and class is only one of those. Being able to study abroad, go to conferences, meet with industry representatives and many other things really complete the college experience and balance out a well-rounded student.

  1. There’s Enough Time in The Day To Catch Up on Class Work

To most busy college students’ disbelief, there is enough time to catch on class work from being gone from class. You may have to sacrifice some beauty sleep to make up those homework assignments, but the opportunity you experience is worth those hours of sleep missed. You can catch up on homework, but you can’t catch up on the opportunity if you did not take the opportunity to begin with.

  1. More Memories Can Be Made Outside of the Class

You’re not going to remember what happened in your 10 AM Biology class 30 years from now, however, you will remember that time you got out of class to go with all your friends on an industry tour. The memories made outside of class can last a lifetime, while the memories within only last until test day for most students.

  1. You Only Do College Once

College is supposed to be some of the greatest years of our lives, so make the most of them! These experiences you take outside of the classroom can really turn these opportunities you take, into real world success. You have one shot at college, so go out and miss a class to make a memory.

Next time you are concerned with missing class to take an opportunity to better yourself, think about these reasons. Although a classroom can provide the basic mechanisms for success attending a conference, event, job interview, or career can strengthen your network, communication skills, and leadership skills can also be extremely beneficial. Consider how the experience will impact you in the long run, before you make a decision to attend that class.


Reflecting on #reddirtcomm Thu, 28 Jan 2016 03:11:57 +0000 [...]]]> By: Casey Chastain, University of Georgia

casey chastain

Casey Chastain, ACT Member

Now that I am back in Georgia where the weather is warmer, I’ve taken time to reflect on my experiences from the National ACT’s Professional Development Conference. Traveling to Oklahoma was a new adventure for me. I fell in love with the Oklahoma State University campus, but not the cold wind and weather. Thankfully, we were inside for the majority of the conference, and shout out to Aspen Coffee Company for keeping me warm. This was my first year attending PDC and I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know, I would meet people from all over the United States, make connections to last a lifetime and change my life plans all within a weekend.

As an agricultural communication major at the University of Georgia, I am constantly asked if I can talk to plants or cows. Well the answer is yes, but then I look like some crazy girl talking to plants and cows. A large majority of people don’t know what the purpose of agricultural communication is or really care for that matter. Meeting other agricultural communicators from across the country was the best part of the conference. At PDC, the alumni panel and guest speakers encouraged members to keep talking about agriculture with those who are unaware of the impact it makes in their lives. The outside perspective on how to communicate agriculture in a positive light was beneficial to all students who attended PDC.

Oklahoma State’s ACT chapter did an amazing job putting PDC together. I enjoyed the wide range of speakers, alumni, lessons and of course, the food. Along with learning to promote the agricultural industry in a positive way, I also learned about job interview skills and had a quick lesson on photography, financial security and crisis management. All of the speakers at PDC talked about different topics and showed a variety of jobs within the agricultural communication field.

My favorite speaker at PDC was Dr. Shannon Ferrell who spoke about financial strategies we should try to live by. This opened my eyes to the benefits of investing and saving money early. The crisis management activity also taught me how to handle situations in a responsible way. The knowledge of all the speakers showed through their lessons and activities.

After attending PDC, I know I have found the right path for my life. Meeting people who share the passion for spreading a positive image of agriculture was a great experience. PDC was everything I thought it would be and then some. Thank you to Oklahoma State’s ACT chapter for being a great host. Texas A&M has big shoes to fill! I look forward to seeing everyone at Ag Media Summit this summer or at PDC next year!


AAEA Summer Intern Sun, 10 Jan 2016 00:03:04 +0000 [...]]]>

Josh Booth

by Josh Booth, Senior in Science and Agricultural Journalism at the University of Missouri

I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer than writing, posting and reporting on pigs. Last summer I had the opportunity to work for the PORK Network as the AAEA editorial intern in Lenexa, Kansas. The PORK Network is a magazine that provides news and insight to pork producers about happenings in the pork industry.


Photo Courtesy of Josh Booth

I was able to learn many aspects that go into producing an online and print magazine. I daily uploaded content to the PORK Network website and helped manage the website. The content ranged from news releases to coverage on legislation involving the pork industry. Also I was able to write and edit content that appeared online and in print. I took pictures throughout the summer that appeared in print, online and in advertisements. Then I posted on social media and created a social media campaign. The campaign shared
“pigtures” that were selfies with pigs.

I reported at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa. There were several meetings about topics from swine health to tips on management. I took pictures and helped run the company booth as well. I also traveled to Arizona to help set up for the 2015 Ag Media Summit.

My internship was a great experience. I learned a lot and can’t thank JoAnn Alumbaugh and Angela Bowman enough for the opportunity.

I know many of you are applying for and accepting internships for the summer. Here are tips that will help you in your internship.

  1. Never be afraid to ask for help – I was surrounded by highly professional people to learn from. In an internship you’re not going to know how to do everything. Your success equates success for the company. So always ask if you need help. It shows your initiative to improve your craft.
  1. Be willing to learn a variety of things – An internship is a learning experience. Don’t shy away from learning new things. Learn from those who have the experience in the areas you want to improve on.
  1. Have fun! – At the end of the day, the company you’ll be working for saw something in you. Work hard to become an asset that the company wanted you to be. Enjoy your time as the summer goes by quick. Happy interning!
So What Do I Wear? Wed, 06 Jan 2016 21:44:27 +0000 [...]]]> Taylor1

Taylor Kennedy, NACT President

By Taylor Kennedy, NACT President, Tarleton State University

With PDC just a week away, if you are anything like me, you are probably trying to figure out what combinations of business casual clothing will fit in your small carry-on. But wait… What exactly is business casual? Are we talking starched jeans for men and a cute dress for girls? A suit and tie? Shorts? What kind of shoes? Do I wear jewelry? Ahh! Don’t worry, people! I can help you!

If you have been to a conference before, you know that black tie is not required to attend sessions. You don’t have to worry about stuffing a ball gown into 22 x 14 x 9 inch rolling bag!

The first step in planning your outfits is to locate the schedule of events. For us, Oklahoma State University’s chapter of ACT has provided an online version that you can find here: Next, Pinterest is actually a good source of information! There are tons of infographics that explain what business casual vs. casual is. When I was searching Pinterest, I came across this one linked to Mizzou’s website: It does a pretty good job of explaining the types of clothes you will want to bring to PDC. Now you can dive into your closet to pair some pieces together!

In years past, the welcome reception was definitely a place to dress more “smart casual.” What do I mean by that? It’s very similar to business casual with a nice shirt and khaki pants or a skirt, but you can also wear a nice starched or dark wash pair of jeans for men and jean trousers for girls. Personally, smart casual is my best friend when I know I will be moving around a lot. So Thursday night at 7p, dress either smart or business casual.

For Friday, business casual is acceptable for all of the sessions. At 5:30p, dinner is on your own. I suggest bringing something comfortable! Maybe wear something from your school while you visit the campus, or if you are feeling like it, dress up! Go out as a group dressed nice representing your university and chapter of ACT.

Saturday morning is also another time for business casual. After our etiquette lunch, you will need to go change clothes for our community service activity. This is what the website tells us to wear:

“We will work with tasks such as volunteering at the youth shelter, various projects at the food pantry, moving items to and from storage facilities, cleaning projects, and also staining and sanding wooden benches. Please bring casual clothes and closed-toe shoes you would not mind getting dirty.”

When we get back, we have dinner and entertainment at 5:30p. I suggest dressing smart casual at this event.

It is always helpful to bring an extra change of clothes to conferences. You may have an outfit you decide you don’t like once you get there!

Hopefully you feel a little more prepared to tackle packing up your suitcase!

I can’t wait to see you all in Stillwater next Thursday!



Helpful Tip: Are you having problems fitting all of your clothes in your suitcase? Try rolling them! It frees up more space and it is easier to find things when you are searching for them. Don’t worry; the hotel probably has an iron you can use to smooth out any wrinkles.


Five reasons every student should go to a trade show (and what to do when you get there) Wed, 02 Dec 2015 03:22:10 +0000 [...]]]> by Alex Cody Easley, student at Arkansas State University


Alex Cody Easley, Arkansas State University

The National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention was an incredible experience that I look forward to writing about. Today, the focus will be on why I am glad I went as a student, rather than a paid employee.

1)  It is the BEST excuse for not knowing something you should definitely know.

Even though my major is journalism and public relations, my internship is at a media network called Ag Watch. It is an Agriculture/Farm media aggregate, with a network of 57 stations in the Delta. We produce stories that deal with local agriculture and ag politics.

I know NOTHING about agriculture. So when a Ph.D. from The University of Missouri Ag department asks me what I know about extension services and antibiotic resistance, I just smile and say “I have no idea what you’re asking. I am an intern.”  This would invariably lead to point #2

2) Learning experience. 

People love to talk about what they know about. If you tell someone you want to learn about a subject that they are an expert on, they will teach you. This becomes a great experience at a trade show, because not only are the people there experts, they have practiced, concise answers for interviews. If you approach someone without a mic in your hand, their guard will let down; you get to have a genuine conversation as a student.

I had the opportunity to talk with Brooke Behrendt, the Public Relations coordinator for the Swanson Russell agency. One of the best experiences I had was simply listening to her speak. This, in turn, leads to point #3

3) Real networking

Face to face networking is so much more valuable than online networking. While I have nothing against LinkedIn or Twitter, there’s really no substitute for shaking some ones hand, looking them in the eye, and asking them what they love about their job. You can expect an honest answer, and you can be sure they will remember you much better than they would if your only contact was re-tweeting from their page.

4) It’s a “Warm up-game.”

If you’re not familiar with the term, a “Warm-up game” is sports term, by where a team plays another team that they either know they are going to beat, or they know it doesn’t matter if they lose. Basically there’s no pressure. If you flub an interview, no one cares. You’re new, and everyone knows it.

5) Anything good that you do earns praise.

Interviewing is one of the simplest tasks in the world. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to do a few interviews at NAFB 2015. It wasn’t a big deal to me, but it earned me praise from my supervisor. Simply putting myself out there, instead of sitting in the back of the class at seminars, definitely made an impression.

I was also told that people had good things to say about me to my boss after meeting me, which was huge. It was a big deal because I didn’t do anything extraordinary whatsoever. Interns and students simply don’t always go up to presidents of companies and just start conversations like I did. It leaves an impression.

In short, get a reputation as a go-getter when you’re not getting paid to be one, and people will stand up and take notice.

Well, that is my advice for today. Put yourself out there, stay calm, and never be scared to try something new. You might learn a thing or two!

Follow Cody’s blog at