The Animal Agriculture Alliance has kicked off its annual College Aggies Online (CAO) scholarship program. CAO is designed to help college students with an interest in agriculture become confident, positive and proactive communicators while competing for scholarship funds. Competitors can register for the individual or student organization divisions by visiting:

Since its inception in 2009, more than 4,000 students have competed in the program. Learn more about CAO by watching this brief video.

“The CAO program continues to grow and thrive, and we’re particularly excited about this year’s edition of the competition,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “In addition to offering intriguing challenges and unique development opportunities, we have also once again assembled an all-star lineup of industry mentors who will provide guidance and feedback to the students.”

2016 program mentors include:

  • Andy Vance, agricultural journalist, speaker and commentator, Feedstuffs
  • Rebecca Shaw, content development specialist, Cargill
  • Kourtney Determan, communications associate, National Chicken Council
  • Heather McClurg, social media manager, Monsanto
  • Casey Hushon, account supervisor, Charleston|Orwig
  • Al Eidson, president, Eidson & Partners
  • Don Schindler, senior vice president, digital innovations, Dairy Management, Inc.
  • Kristina Butts, director, strategic initiatives, Texas Tech University System
  • Anna Leigh Peek, communications specialist, US Poultry and Egg Association
  • Eric Mittenthal, vice president of public affairs, North American Meat Institute
  • Krissa Welshans, staff editor, Feedstuffs
  • Lara Durben, communications director, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association

During the program, students receive weekly assignments ranging from writing a blog post to creating an infographic, giving a public presentation about a hot topic in agriculture and more. Participants earn points by posting content promoting and explaining agriculture on social media.

Student organizations can also participate as a group and complete club challenges. These challenges include holding an “Ag Day” on campus, teaching at local elementary schools, handing out candy wrapped with meat myths and facts, and many more. The clubs receive points for each challenge they complete.


The final points from the weekly challenges will be tallied in early December 2016, and the following prizes will be awarded in both the individual and student organization divisions:

First: $2,500 scholarship and a trip to the Alliance’s Stakeholders Summit
Second: $1,000 scholarship
Third: $500 scholarship

In addition to the overall awards, several mini-prizes will be up for grabs throughout the competition.

To learn more about the competition and how to sign up, please visit the Alliance website.

CAO would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. This year's include: Dairy Management, Inc., National Pork Industry Foundation, National Turkey Federation’s 20 by 2020 project, Diamond V, Ohio Poultry Association, Florida Dairy Farmers and AgriBank.