The Animal Agriculture Alliance's annual College Aggies Online scholarship competition kicks off Sept. 14. Undergraduate, graduate students and collegiate clubs will compete in the nine-week program to learn how to engage in food and agriculture conversation online and in their communities. Last year students were awarded more than $20,000 in scholarships.
CAO would not be where it is today without the continued support of premier sponsor Dairy Management Inc. "Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national dairy checkoff, has been a proud sponsor of the College Aggies Online program since 2015," says Don Schindler, senior vice president of digital innovations at DMI. "We've seen the progress and growth that competing students and clubs make when participating in this program, and we're happy to offer our advice and feedback to support this next generation of agricultural advocates."
College Aggies Online helps students become confident and effective communicators on behalf of agriculture and has been doing so since 2009. Just like the upcoming fall semester, the competition will look a little different this year. Collegiate clubs usually host events on their campus to engage with peers about agriculture, but to ensure students are able to adhere to social distancing guidelines to protect their health and the health of others, the Alliance has updated the club competition to include virtual engagement opportunities and events suited for small groups. The Alliance encourages participating clubs to follow social distancing, wear face masks and use hand sanitizer at any in-person event. Participating clubs should follow any guidelines set by their universities for event sizes or required safety measures.
Student organizations have 10 challenge categories available to choose from to earn points for the club competition. In the "Undeniably Dairy" challenge sponsored by DMI, clubs are encouraged to partner with local dairy farmers and checkoffs to share the nutritional benefits of dairy and how its produced with students on campus who may not be familiar with agriculture. Additional examples of virtual club challenges include a virtual farm tour, virtual "Ask a Farmer" panel, hosting a webinar for a local K-12 class, hosting a milk mustache social media campaign, starting an online watch party for an agricultural film and much more.
Undergraduates and graduate students can also sign up for the individual competition. The individual program is completely virtual with students engaging and networking via social media to enhance their communication skills.
The CAO program would not be possible without the generous support of our 2020 sponsors. In addition to Dairy Management Inc., this year's sponsors include CHS Foundation, National Pork Industry Foundation, Seaboard Foods, Bayer, Institute for Feed Education and Research, National Corn Growers Association, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Culver's Franchising System, Domino's Pizza Inc., Ohio Poultry Association and Pennsylvania Beef Council.