Young agricultural communicators are the voices of the future, and helping these passionate leaders join the global conversation is key to educating the world’s consumers about where their food comes from.

Alltech is proud to support young agricultural journalists at the Ag Media Summit through the Livestock Publications Council Forrest Bassford Student Award and, new in 2017, the American Agricultural Editors’ Association Alltech Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Awards.

The 2017 Livestock Publications Council Forrest Bassford Student Award, sponsored by Alltech, was presented to Topanga McBride, a senior at Kansas State University who is majoring in agricultural communications and journalism as well as agricultural economics. McBride was presented with a $2,000 scholarship and a plaque during the Ag Media Summit.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, and raised in Fort Collins, Colorado, McBride grew up showing Milking Shorthorns for her 4-H dairy project. While she initially had no intention to stay in the agriculture industry, her peers’ lack of knowledge regarding their food sparked her passion for agricultural communications. 

“When I realized that my teachers’ and friends’ sole connection to agriculture was me, I knew that I had to use my voice,” said McBride. “Agriculture is an industry that touches everyone’s lives, and we cannot afford to sit out on the conversation.”

McBride is currently a media relations intern for Monsanto Co. She will return to her role as a communications intern at the Kansas Department of Agriculture in the fall. Previously, she served as a public relations intern for Look East and the Center for Food Integrity.

In addition to her intern experiences, McBride is heavily involved in collegiate and national organizations. She serves on the Agriculture Future of America Student Advisory Team along with nine other collegiate agriculture leaders. She is an active member of Sigma Alpha, a professional sorority for women in agriculture, a Kansas State University ag ambassador and editorial director for Kansas State University’s chapter of Spoon University.

The Forrest Bassford Student Award honors excellence, professionalism and leadership among students. Each year, following a competitive application process, the LPC Student Award Program provides travel scholarships for four students to attend the Ag Media Summit. In addition to McBride, this year's travel award winners were:

  • Katie Friedrichs, Oklahoma State University
  • Taylor Belle Matheny, Kansas State University
  • Jill Seiler, Kansas State University

During the Ag Media Summit, the four finalists’ portfolios were reviewed, and each was interviewed by a panel of professionals.

2017 marks the 32nd year of the LPC Student Award Program. In 1992, Forrest Bassford's name was attached to the LPC Student Award in honor of his contribution to LPC and his particular interest in furthering the Student Award. Alltech has co-sponsored the award since 2012.

“Alltech is proud to support young agricultural communicators as they share the stories that need to be told within the agriculture industry as well as educate the urban population on where and who their food comes from,” said Jenn Norrie, on-farm communications manager for Alltech.

2017 also marked the first year of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association Alltech Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Awards, providing the opportunity for active AAEA agricultural journalists 35 years old or younger with a travel stipend to attend the Ag Media Summit as well as an invitation to attend ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference (ONE18)May 20–23, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky.

The 2017 American Agricultural Editors’ Association Alltech Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Award recipients were:

  • Ann Hess, AGDAILY/Carbon Media
  • Anna McConnel, Successful Farming/Meredith Agrimedia
  • Kasey Brown, Angus Media
  • Shelby Mettlen, Angus Media

“The American Agricultural Editors’ Association believes it is vital to provide professional development and education opportunities for its younger members to attend the annual Ag Media Summit,” said Samantha Kilgore, executive director of AAEA. “The Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Awards, made possible by Alltech, will help reach that goal of continuing to provide development and education for the nation’s leading ag communicators.”

The 19th annual Ag Media Summit hosted more than 600 agricultural communicators, media professionals and students at the Snowbird resort outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, July 22–26. The Ag Media Summit is a joint meeting of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), the Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and the Connectiv Agri-Media Committee, and it offers opportunities for professional development and industry networking.