OSU Dairy Club Wins National Ag Education CompetitionWed, 03 Dec 2014 14:24:39 CST
Oklahoma State University students have been honored national for being advocates for agriculture. The Animal Agriculture Alliance announced the results of its sixth annual College Aggies Online (CAO) scholarship competition. The nationwide program helps college students share agriculture's story and become passionate spokespeople on behalf of the food and fiber industries.
CAO is an online competition open to all college students with an interest in agriculture. Since its launch in 2009, more than 2,500 college students from more than 160 different colleges and universities have registered to compete in the program. The Alliance wishes to thank the 2014 College Aggies Program sponsors which include Tyson Foods, Inc., the National Pork Producers Council Foundation, Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), Fair Oaks Pig Adventure, Belstra Milling Company and the United Soybean Board.
Members of the Oklahoma State University Dairy Science Club formed the top-scoring club with 107,450 total points. The club will receive $5,000 and a trip for two club representatives to the Alliance's annual Stakeholders Summit in Kansas City, Missouri to be formally recognized.
University of Wisconsin - River Falls' Sigma Alpha sorority came in second place with 98,900 points and will receive $2,500. A $1,000 prize and the third-place bragging rights will be awarded to the Block & Bridle Club from University of Missouri.
Each week, individual participants received assignments, called "Aggies Homework," which focused on a specific social media platform or a segment of the agriculture community. This fall, CAO participants engaged with the public by utilizing Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, as well as by writing blog posts. Additionally, industry experts, including agriculture journalists, food bloggers, and representatives from several of the protein trade associations hosted webinars or tweet-ups to help educate participants about the pertinent issues facing the industry and how to communicate about those with the public.
With 11,950 points, the individual high score went to Justin Bartholomay, a student at North Dakota State University. Bartholomay will receive a $5,000 scholarship. Lauren Schlothauer of New Mexico State University came in second place and will be awarded a $2,500 scholarship. Karoline Rose of Montana State University, a winner also in the Alliance's fourth CAO competition in the spring of 2013, took third place and will receive a scholarship in the amount of $1,000.
Over the course of the competition students generated 39 blog posts, over 450 Facebook posts, over 700 Tweets and over 600 Instagram posts along with other social media and campus outreach activities.
"This year's participants were incredibly engaged in telling the story of food animal production across multiple social media platforms." said Feedstuffs' Andy Vance who served as this year's program mentor. "The growth they exhibited throughout the weeks of the program was impressive and a direct result of the interaction the participants enjoyed each week with industry experts and thought leaders."
While the individual participants were assigned tasks week by week, participating clubs were able to pick and choose from a variety of challenges including visiting their state legislators, hosting a "Meet your Meat" event on their college campus or hosting a food drive in advance of the holiday season.
"There's a lot of discussion and even a good bit of misperception about food and where it comes from these days," said Annetta Young, director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Tyson Foods. "The participants in this program bring credible voices into the discussion, often just by telling others about their own personal experiences. Our goal in partnering with the College Aggies Online program is to help them share this important perspective and make sure the real story of agriculture is amplified."
"We are thrilled so many clubs and students competed and were so actively engaged this year," said Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith of this year's CAO program. "Each year, the program grows, the students' reach expands, and we are confident our College Aggies Online program is helping cultivate some of agriculture's future leaders by encouraging them to engage in informed conversations about animal agriculture."
Students are encouraged to continue utilizing the CAO Facebook page to connect and learn after the conclusion of the competition. Special thanks to our generous sponsors for their support, allowing us to reward these hard working students for their achievements, and to our other program partners: Ohio Poultry Association, Indiana State Poultry Association, Pennsylvania Beef Council, Georgia Cattlemen's Association, American National CattleWomen Inc., the AgChat Foundation and AgCareers.com.
For more information about the contest, or to become a sponsor of next year's competition, contact Morgan Hawley, program manager, at email@example.com.
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