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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.


The Awakening of a Country Boy

A brief review by Jim Evans

This new book reveals early thoughts and experiences of Professor Hadley Read, pioneering leader of the Agricultural Communications Program at the University of Illinois. He died 35 years ago, but two of his children – Greg and Mary – were aware of Hadley’s manuscript for The Awakening of a Country Boy. They decided it should be shared, took a nostalgic trip to his home town of Stanhope, Iowa, and led publication of the 171-page book.

It is written in Hadley’s interesting style of brief verses – 81 of them, beginning with his early years of “growing up” during the 1930s depression. They feature memories of his town, his high school times and his early romances. Ten pages of photographs help document his early life and activities. The Awakening complements his 1977 book, Morning Chores and Other Times Remembered.   

I value these insights about Hadley’s early life that built a foundation for his remarkable career.  We met first during late 1961. So I had opportunity to work closely with him for 20 of his 27 years in the Extension Editorial Office (later Office of Agricultural Communications) at the University of Illinois. What a valued mentor he was. I am aware of six books that Hadley wrote, including one of the early references for teaching and practice in this career field. Even so, the full report of his creative vision, innovative leadership and powerful impact in agricultural communications remains to be written.


Editor’s Note: The Awakening of a Country Boy is available to purchase online. Proceeds will benefit the Hadley Read Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of Illinois.


1960s decade leads challenge

The decade challenge in support of the Next 500 Scholarship Campaign continues. The 1960s is currently leading. There's still time to help your graduation decade win this challenge. Gifts received by October 1 will count toward the decade challenge. 

Learn more about the Next 500 Scholarship Campaign


Why I Give

By Doyle Karr

My desire to do something about something has gotten more complicated with age.

These days, when I have one of those “someone-should-do-something” moments, not only am I readily aware of the limited amount of time and energy I have to invest in a solution, I also know that many times there is already someone working on it—someone with more “extra cash,” someone who understands the challenge more clearly, someone who has more patience, someone who is more fired up about the problem.

And yet, despite all the other demands on my time and money, I have chosen to give to the University of Illinois Agricultural Communications Next 500 Scholarship Drive. Here’s why.

Professionally, I experience a clear and present need for more—and better—food and ag communicators every day around the world. The University of Illinois has positioned itself to meet that need, inspired by the always forward-thinking Dr. Jim Evans.

Personally, I have a strong appreciation for what the Ag Comm Program at Illinois provided me, and I want to make sure more students have the opportunity I had.

Practically, I’ve learned that building and maintaining a world-class program at a university takes more than desire and our first-in-world endowed Agricultural Communications chair.

We have the commitment from the University. We raised $2 million. We have a terrific teaching staff and incredible, award-winning students. All huge advances. But for this program to be viable at a large public university, it needs to attract more students. Many more students.

Awareness among prospective students is critical, and dedicated alumni are working with the University to get word out about the reinvigorated program.

And yet, even with all that the program now has going for it, we continue to lose top prospective students to other universities. With the increase in costs, scholarships are often the deciding factor. While the existing agricultural communications scholarship funds are strong, they are not sufficient to keep up with current needs. A successful awareness campaign may fail to increase enrollment sufficiently due to lack of scholarship funds.

So, yeah, someone should do something about that scholarship fund problem. What a shame to have come so far—to have the Ag Comm Program positioned like never before for the future—and not be able to fill up the classrooms.

The pool of “someones” who would give to the Ag Communications scholarship fund is relatively small. There are only about 631 living alumni of the Ag Comm Program. And yet, that small group has a strong tradition of supporting the future generations beyond its numbers.

I benefited from those who graduated from Ag Comm before me, and now it is my turn to step up for the Next 500.

Most importantly, giving to the campaign is something I can do that—along with contributions from other alums and friends—will have a significant impact on young people with a passion for communicating.

And that’s enough to get me fired up to give…even at my advanced age.

Learn more about the Next 500 Scholarship campaign

Doyle Karr is a 1986 graduate of the University of Illinois Ag Communications Program and today is Director of Biotechnology Policy at DuPont.


McClure wins radio spot contest

Caitlin McClure, a senior in ag communications, won the NextRadio and Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) College Radio Spot Contest this year. Her creative radio spot will be featured in the second flight of the 2016 NextRadio National Awareness Campaign that will begin running on March 25, 2016.

The NextRadio National Awareness Campaign was launched in February 2015 to promote the activation of FM chips within all smartphones and NextRadio. This is an industry-wide marketing effort, supported by the National Association of Broadcasters.

The winning radio spot was inspired by Caitlin’s father who warned her that she might have to pay for the family’s extra data charges because she was using streaming apps. The radio spot features NextRadio as the solution to saving consumers’ data while enjoying local FM radio on their smartphones. In addition to the radio spot being included in the second flight of the 2016 national campaign, Caitlin also participated in IBS’s national conference in early March in Washington, DC.


Students lead communication workshops for Springfield-area FFA chapters
 Paige Jones, sophomore in Agricultural Communications, facilitates a workshop on social media etiquette for FFA members.

Five agricultural communications students recently shared their expertise with Illinois FFA Sections 12 & 14 (Cass, Fulton, Logan, Mason, Menard, and Sangamon counties) during a special communications night in Athens, Ill. Nicole Chance, Kendall Herren, Paige Jones, Kelsey Litchfield, and Carli Miller made the nearly two-hour journey – each way – to Athens on February 10 to facilitate workshops on social media etiquette, interviewing, photography composition, public speaking, and podcasting.

FFA Communications Night participants ranged in age from freshmen to seniors in high school and were interested in developing their skills for a variety of reasons. Communicating with the general public, reporting for their FFA chapters, and exploring career interests were commonly named reasons for attending.

Leia Flure, Agricultural Communications Program instructor, chaperoned workshop leaders to the event and encouraged FFA attendees to consider careers in this field, noting the increased demand for communication professionals with technical expertise.

Several of the workshop leaders, representing the Agricultural Communications Program, had been FFA members themselves and were excited about the opportunity to give back. Although they were there to teach others, Paige Jones felt that she strengthened her own abilities in the process. “I had a lot of fun, and I felt like I really gained some presentation and communications skills by participating,” she said.


Ag Comm alumni - what are you up to lately?

Ag Comm alumni are all over—in Illinois and beyond. Won’t you let us know what you’ve been up to lately? Your batch mates and friends would like to know. Our eager current students would like to know. And the Ag Comm Program certainly would like to keep in touch.

Make, keep, and strengthen connections by giving us updates. Feel free to forward them to the ACES Office of Advancement.  We’d love to hear from you!


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