The holidays came early for students from North Dakota State University, Western Illinois University, University of Wisconsin at Madison, State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill, Louisiana State University and Northwest Missouri State University as they take home scholarships for being named winners of the Animal Agriculture Alliance's College Aggies Online scholarship competition. The Alliance awarded more than $20,000 to students and clubs this year.
College Aggies Online is an initiative of the Alliance that connects college students from across the country who are interested in promoting agriculture. In the individual division, participants receive training from industry experts and engage on social media by posting information about current and emerging issues facing farmers and ranchers and telling personal stories. In the club division, students host farm tours, campus events, food drives and more to engage with their peers about agriculture.
"This year we had more than 300 individuals and 20 collegiate clubs enroll in the competition, representing 95 colleges and 35 states," says Casey Kinler, Alliance communications manager. "The students' posts about agriculture generated more than 7.2 million impressions on social media, demonstrating that they have been highly successful at spreading positive and factual information about animal agriculture online."
The individual winners are:
- First place, $2,500 scholarship: Sarah McNaughton, North Dakota State University and Cassie Perrin, Western Illinois University
- Second place, $1,000 scholarship: Ciera Ballmer, University of Wisconsin at Madison and Kathryn Bosley, State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill
- Third place, $500 scholarship: Katie Costanza, Louisiana State University and William Grant, Northwest Missouri State University
The club winners are:
- First place, $2,500 scholarship: Western Illinois University Agriculture Club
- Second place, $1,000 scholarship: Northwest Missouri State University Agriculture Advocacy Class
- Third place, $500: West Texas A&M University Agronomy Club
The first and second place winners in each division receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Alliance's 2020 Stakeholders Summit, set for May 7-8 in Arlington, Va. The Alliance also named Brynnen Gardner of Iowa State University the "Social Media Rock Star" for entering the best social media post of the competition. Throughout the competition, students earned mini scholarships for having the best social media posts, videos, blog posts and infographics. Clubs were received awards for hosting the best events on their campuses.
In addition to the scholarship winners, 11 students earned the College Aggies Online Excellence Award for rising to the top of a very competitive field this fall:
- Emily Boyer, Oklahoma State University
- Hannah Campbell, Michigan State University
- Emily Matzke, University of Wisconsin at Madison
- Kade Plattner, Northwest Missouri State University
- Kathryn Helmink, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
- Mackenzie Wille, Oregon State University
- Payton Craig, Northwest Missouri State University
- Jessy Harris-Forkner, Oklahoma State University
- Paige Skinner, Western Illinois University
- Samantha Burdick, Oklahoma State University
- Agnes Kurtzhals, Northeast Community College
CAO would not be possible without the generous support of sponsors. 2019 sponsors include: Dairy Management Inc., Seaboard Foods, National Pork Industry Foundation, CHS Foundation, National Turkey Federation, Bayer, Cooper Family Foundation, National Corn Growers Association, Vivayic, Alltech, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Ohio Poultry Association, Domino's Pizza Inc., Culvers Franchising System, Pennsylvania Beef Council and National Chicken Council.