Agriculture, Career/Professional

Just Wing It: Ag Media Summit

Whether I’m working away on a magazine or hanging out with one of my ag comm friends, my roommates usually are a bit overwhelmed when they see in my “natural element.” I don’t think many would argue when I say we pack a lot of motivation, creativity and passion for what we do into just the right amount of crazy. My roommates may have been a bit more overwhelmed than normal though, if they had been with me on my most recent adventure.

Last week, August 4-7, I had the opportunity to travel to Buffalo, New York to attend the 2013 Ag Media Summit.

This annual conference brings together both professionals and college students in the agricultural communications, journalism and marketing fields for meetings, learning sessions, collaboration and a celebration of our industry. As a student at K-State I was never able to attend, so when my job wanted to send me I was all on board! The mix of people, from every corner of the industry, spanning from bright-eyed students to young professionals to respected trailblazers, make for an interesting and high-energy environment. Never before have I been surrounded by that many people that share my passions for both agriculture and communications. It was great to catch up with friends made from AFA and K-State, share “post grad life” joys and woes with other recent graduates and network with folks that will no doubt, be a part of my career for years to come.

After becoming what you could call a “professional conference attendee” throughout high school and college {which all ranked from mediocre to outstanding,} I was very pleased to walk away actually having learned something valuable and feeling energized. I am a huge believer of continued learning and investing in your education beyond a structured classroom. It challenges us to be better, helps us refocus and in all honestly, keeps us working offensively, instead of playing defense. There were many learning sessions to choose from within the six time blocks and my goal was to balance my time between a variety of topics. My favorite session without a doubt was “Writing Deep Dive: Tools of Originality” featuring Kelly McBride from the Poynter Institute. She takes a very aggressive and strategic approach toward knowing herself as a writer and capitalizing on her creativity. It was refreshing to talk through the shared struggles the writers have and how we can infuse more originality into writing that is redundant and overdone. Previously, I was a bit familiar with the research and teaching that the Poynter Institute does and after Kelly’s session, would definitely encourage to check them out online.

My take-away’s from this session:

  • Questions to routinely reflect on: What conditions do I need to be most creative? What have been my most creative moments in life and what outside factors may have influenced that creativity? What works for what I do and what is necessary for my job?
  • Don’t see distractions as negative, see them as preparation. Naturally incorporate them into your routine and don’t feel guilty.
  • Know the difference between the subject and the focus.
  • Every word is on the ladder of abstraction. “Low” is specific. “High” is focus. >Avoid the middle<
  • 6 Tricks of the Trade for Original Ideas {Best advice from the whole session. These really could have been featured in a blog post of their own}
    1. Turn away from the target
    2. Make a list
    3. Do a narrative
    4. Read the signs {literally}
    5. Give our your phone number
    6. Don’t be afraid of your own experience

The other sessions that I attended focused on photography, a public relations overview of John Deere’s {really stinking cool} campaign where they built a life size combine sculpture out of canned food, publishing content across multiple online platforms, and a panel on balancing time management, travel and relationships in your career. Overall, my first AMS was a great experience. I was humbled after many of my entries in the collegiate National Critique and Contest placed very well and proud that so many other K-State entries did fantastic as well. The city of Buffalo was charming and since I didn’t get the chance to visit Niagara Falls, it is definitely on my list to visit again

And if you’ve already took a peek at my pictures below you can see that this group sure knows how to have fun! The welcome party had a Roaring 20’s theme, which anyone who has been following my current obsession with The Great Gatsby, then you know I was just about tickled pink.

Thanks for a great time AMS!

Career/Professional, Kansas

On This Side of ‘When I Grow Up’

As I was growing up the only thing I could ever remember saying I wanted to be when I grew up, was an ag teacher just like my dad. But I also remember being in first grade and being given my first legitimate writing assignment. While all of the other kids wrote a couple of lines to go with their drawing for their story, I clearly remember stapling together a booklet that had at least ten pages written about animals. So my interests in agriculture and educating others, especially through writing, have been there from the beginning and I take a lot of comfort from the fact that I have always had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do with my life

Fast forward to now and 16 years of school later, and the ‘when I grow up’ deadline is very, very real and written in capital letters in my planner. Yet somehow, this girl has managed to skip over most of the stressful long process of getting that first “big kid” job. Yes, I just became that person who all other seniors despise because I have a job lined out before graduation.

I only feel a tad bit guilty. Probably because the rest of me is really stinkin’ excited.

My post grad adventure will start right here in Manhattan at the Kansas Pork Association as the new Director of Communications. I’m actually starting part time while I finish up school this semester and will be going full time in June. I have always had an interest in the swine industry, stemming from raising and showing hogs in 4-H and FFA. I am looking forward to taking on all of the association’s promotional materials, building relationships in the industry and working to represent and create a positive image for animal agriculture.

Through this process I have been reminded of how invaluable networking and investing time in internships and career related experiences are as a college student. While I have been a student at K-State I have had two summer internships, as well as an on-campus internship during the school year. It is my experience working the past three years in the communications office at the International Grain Program, which is a part of the grain science department here at K-State, that has given me the confidence and skills to be prepared for the adventures that are waiting for me after graduation. Most importantly I received a lot of mentoring and support as a student employee, which I believe was crucial in my development as a communicator. If I were to give any piece of advice to other students, it would definitely be to seek out experiences that challenge you in the field that you want your career to be in and find a good mentor. Having someone that believes in your potential and supports you through that process also helps develop you as a person.

My Final Project at IGP. Click here to go to the flip book.
My Final Project at IGP. Click here to go to the flip book.

I am pretty excited to see what life in Manhattan not as a student is going to be like. I do have some concerns about transitioning from college to career, especially when I am going to continue to live with my college roommates for the first year. But I have good people around me and I really like Manhattan. Moving here four years ago for school wouldn’t have been an option if I didn’t. So I think that it is  ‘real fine place to start.’

– Amanda