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The University of Illinois Agricultural Communications Program issues this e-newsletter to share updates on student and faculty accomplishments, academic activities, and other initiatives. Contact Lulu Rodriguez, Program Director, with questions or comments.

Help spread the word - join AgComm Awareness Drive

A Note from Karen Jones, AGCM '04

In today’s connected and media-heavy world, good communicators are more important than ever. Combining those skills with a strong knowledge of modern agriculture means an Ag Communications degree is a solid choice.

But if you’re like me, you’ve had to explain more than once exactly what a degree in Ag Communications means.

Recently, enrollment in the Agricultural Communications program have been lower than desired, even when there is high demand for graduates of the program. Nearly 100 percent of Spring 2015 graduates had multiple full-time employment offers before graduation.

To assist in raising awareness of the program, a group of alumni have organized to serve as a real-world resource for high school and community college students interested in learning more.

The Awareness Committee has set two goals for outreach this year. The first is to make personal presentations at five select community colleges in the state – Blackhawk College, Illinois Central College, Joliet Junior College, Kaskaskia College, and Parkland College. These schools were chosen based on size, location, and past efforts to transfer students into the Ag Comm program.

The other goal is to reach out with a personal contact to the remaining community colleges in the state that have transfer agreements with the College of ACES to educate advisors on the Ag Comm program and offer more information to any interested students.

The Awareness Committee has members able to make many of these contacts, but we are always glad for any additional help from alumni. If you are living or working near one of the five target schools, and would like to volunteer to help, please contact me. We have an up-to-date, turnkey PowerPoint you may use as the basis for your presentation. Sharing your own experiences is also an invaluable opportunity to show what doors this degree can open for young people.

For more information, or to volunteer to assist, please contact Karen Jones, or 309-369-4632.

Student Spotlight - Chelsea Verbeck

By Katie Zelechowski

University of Illinois Agricultural Communications students are known for their involvement in professional development activities. Senior Chelsea Verbeck is no exception. For just over a year, Chelsea has been part of an Illinois Farm Bureau ACTION TEAM focusing on member relations.

Membership Promotion is one of four ACTION TEAMs, which work to improve the Farm Bureau in different ways. Each group of 10-15 volunteers meets biannually to develop ideas and plans for statewide projects. As part of the Membership Promotion team, Chelsea brainstorms ways to increase membership with valuable benefits, such as discounts on machinery and coupons for restaurants.

Chelsea’s involvement with the Farm Bureau has been a natural progression. Her interest in agriculture was instilled at a young age as she grew up on her family’s corn and soybean farm. In high school, she was heavily involved in 4-H and FFA. Then, as a freshman in college, Chelsea joined the University of Illinois Collegiate Farm Bureau.

As Chelsea immersed herself in Collegiate Farm Bureau, she started thinking about increasing her involvement even further.

 “I wanted to do more than just at the college level and the ACTION TEAM was a great way to become involved and make an impact throughout Illinois,” she said.

Apart from fostering county and state membership, the Membership Promotion team has been continuously working to install Farm Bureau groups at other colleges across Illinois. Chelsea hopes that this will encourage other students to get more involved and develop useful professional skills.

Next January will mark the end of Chelsea’s first two years on the ACTION TEAM. She plans to stay on with the program after she graduates in the fall.

For more information about Illinois Farm Bureau ACTION TEAMs, visit

Decade competition continues

The Next 500 Agricultural Communications Scholarship Campaign decade challenge continues. As a reminder, this is a participation challenge. The decade with the most alumni giving will receive special recognition. 

For more information, visit the Agricultural Communications website or contact the following individuals representing their decade of Ag Comm alumni.  

1960s - John Volk

1970s - Ken Rinkenberger & Becky Doyle

1980s - Diane Martin

1990s - Holly Spangler

2000s - Josh St. Peters


In the last issue of the Ag Comm e-newsletter, we reported that Ag Comm alum Doyle Karr, DuPont’s Director for Biotechnology Public Policy, was part of a team that received the Borlaug CAST Communication Award during the World Food Prize celebrations in October. Doyle was quick to correct us. Said award was actually presented to Dr. Channapatna Prakash, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Tuskegee University. 

Doyle was instead part of a panel that discussed food security following the award presentation. The accompanying photo was taken to celebrate the American Farm Bureau’s launching of the biotech classroom resource, an initiative unrelated to the award.

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