As a voice for the farmers and ranchers who work hard to feed our growing world every day, agriculture communicators help educate the public on how food is produced. Both traditional and new media channels allow for these stories to be shared and amplified beyond borders — and students and young professionals are leading the charge.
During the 2019 Ag Media Summit (AMS), held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on July 27–31, Alltech honored young leaders in agricultural communications with the Livestock Publications Council (LPC) Forrest Bassford Student Award and the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA) Alltech Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Awards.
The LPC Forrest Bassford Student Award, sponsored by Alltech, honors excellence, professionalism and leadership among students. The 2019 LPC Forrest Bassford Student Award was presented to Jessica Wesson, an agricultural communications and agricultural leadership student at the University of Arkansas and she will receive a $2,000 scholarship.
“I was humbled to receive an award named in honor of such an influential person in the Livestock Publications Council. Mr. Bassford clearly had a passion for agriculture communications much like I do,” said Wesson. “This award is an honor for students to receive, and I am grateful for the opportunity to represent my college.”
Wesson’s passion for agriculture began early in life as she was involved in 4-H and grew up showing livestock. In high school she was an active member in her FFA chapter and began writing press releases for the local newspapers, expanding her photography skills and practicing media relations.
Every year, following a competitive application process, the LPC Student Award Program provides travel scholarships for four students to attend the AMS. In addition to Wesson, this year's travel award winners were:
- Natalie Ayers, University of Missouri-Columbia
- Sadie Lackey, University of Georgia
- Grace Vehige, University of Arkansas
In support of young professionals, the AAEA Alltech Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Award provides the opportunity for active AAEA agricultural journalists who are 45 years old or younger to receive a travel stipend to attend the AMS, as well as an invitation to attend ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference, held each May in Lexington, Kentucky.
The 2019 AAEA Alltech Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Award recipients were:
- Megan Vollstedt, Successful Farming
- Ryan Tipps, AgDaily
- Marlee Moore, Alabama Farmers Federation
- Michelle Miller, The Farm Babe and AgDaily
- Diane Meyer, American Hereford Association
“Alltech is proud to support the future of agricultural communicators as the ambassadors and voice of our industry, as they share stories from farmers and ranchers in a time when the vast majority of consumers are generations removed from the farm,” said Jenn Norrie, Alltech’s communications manager for North America.
The 21st annual Ag Media Summit also hosted the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Annual Congress. With the addition of the IFAJ, who joined The Agricultural Communicators Network, the AAEA, the LPC and the Connectiv Agri-Media Committee, more than 700 media and communications professionals were estimated to have been in attendance at the 2019 AMS.