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AHS January Blog: Ag Communicators Program Grows in Second Year

The Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences (AHS) publishes a monthly blog written by students, alumni, and faculty sharing important topics and helpful resources related to the fields of agricultural, extension, and human science. In the January blog post, Katie Sanders, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist of Food Systems Communication, highlights how the Agricultural Communicators Program has continued to grow on campus as it enters it’s second year.

This semester, the Agricultural Communicators Program (ACP) hosted its second year as a student scholars organization on campus. ACP is a scholars program working as a cross-college partnership between the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS) and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS) Department of Communication. The program follows a two-year cohort model, and accepted students participate in activities, networking, and communication skill development throughout their time with ACP. ACP student majors include Agricultural Business, Agricultural Science, Horticulture, Agricultural Education, Entomology, Animal Science, and Food Science, as well as Communication (from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences).

In the fall, ACP met four times and highlighted three great speakers: Laura Kilian from NC Farm Bureau, Deborah Johnson from Feed the Dialogue NC, and Michelle Grainger from the North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission. Laura Kilian, the Associate State Legislative Director of NC Farm Bureau, spoke with students about the role of consumer data in creating agricultural communications strategies. Deborah Johnson (pictured below) discussed the role of Feed the Dialogue NC in helping consumers engage in meaningful dialogue with the industry about agricultural topics, as well as the critical role of communication for agriculture in North Carolina.

Deborah Johnson, Feed the Dialogue NC, spoke to ACP scholars on October 30th, 2023.

On November 13th, faculty mentor Katie Sanders spoke with the students about finding their own communication identity. Sanders discussed her journey to becoming an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist of Food Systems Communication, and led students through a reflective activity where they drew images of themselves doing agricultural science communication in the field. 

For our last meeting of the semester, Michelle Grainger, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission, led an engaging discussion on the current state of the sweetpotato industry revealing how local and global factors impact North Carolina farmers. She spoke about how she uses different communication strategies to solve problems in agriculture and encouraged everyone to remember: sweetpotato is one word! We also got a special visit from Spencer Sweetpotato, who accompanied Grainger on her international travels during the fall.

Fall 2023 was a fantastic semester for ACP, and we are excited to see what Spring 2024 brings. We are also actively seeking internship opportunities for our students, so if you know of internship opportunities at the nexus of agriculture, natural resources, and communication, please reach out to Katie Sanders, Thank you to our amazing speakers and incredible students for making the start of year two a success!