College students across the country are gearing up for the Animal Agriculture Alliance's annual College Aggies Online scholarship competition which kicks off Sept. 14. This year's students and collegiate clubs are competing for more than $20,000 in scholarships throughout the nine-week program.
CAO connects college students who are interested in promoting agriculture and gives them the skills they need to effectively engage with key audiences online and on campus. The club competition typically focuses on in-person events, however in light of current circumstances and to adhere to health and social distancing protocols on campuses, it has been updated to include a variety of virtual and small group engagement opportunities.
Possible events clubs can organize for points include planning a virtual farm tour; hosting a webinar or video chat with a local elementary, middle or high school class to talk about agriculture; or holding a food drive to raise awareness about food security and encourage donations to a local food bank. Individual division participants receive training from expert mentors and engage with their peers on social media by posting information about current and emerging issues facing farmers and ranchers and telling personal stories.
"We have a stellar line-up of industry professional and farmer mentors this year who are prepared to provide tips and tricks to College Aggies Online participants to grow their agriculture advocacy skills," says Casey Kinler, Alliance director of membership and marketing. "Whether these students are looking to go back to the farm after graduation or work in the industry, this competition has something for everyone and the knowledge they gain will serve them well."
Mentors for the 2020 competition include:
- Don Schindler, senior vice president of Digital Initiatives, Dairy Management Inc.
- Barb Determan, communication chair, National Pork Industry Foundation
- Allison Devitre, regulatory policy and scientific affairs, information management and communications, Bayer Animal Health
- Morgan Walker, digital and social media manager, American Farm Bureau Federation
- Joe Proudman, associate director for communications, CLEAR Center at University of California, Davis
- Tara Vander Dussen, dairy farmer and environmental scientist, New Mexico Milkmaid
- Lukas Fricke, pig farmer, ChorChek, Inc.
- Jenell Eck, chicken, grain and beef Farmer, Thompson Ag Consulting
- Tammy Wiedenbeck, beef farmer, Riverview Farms
- Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD, Street Smart Nutrition
- Michelle Miller, sheep and cattle farmer, Farm Babe, LLC
- Beth Breeding, vice president of communications and marketing, National Turkey Federation
- Michelle Jones, grain farmer, Big Sky Farmher
- Jessica Peters, dairy farmer, Spruce Row Farm
CAO would not be possible without the generous support of sponsors. 2020 sponsors include: Dairy Management Inc., Seaboard Foods, National Pork Industry Foundation, CHS Foundation, Bayer, Institute for Feed Education and Research, National Corn Growers Association, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Domino's Pizza Inc., Ohio Poultry Association, Culver's and Pennsylvania Beef Council.