This project is now complete (ended 2014).
Through our workshops, we provided materials to help beginning farmers and ranchers develop an online presence to raise awareness for their business, commodity or even agriculture in general.
Any agricultural producer who has participated in the sale and/or marketing of an enterprise for less than 10 years was welcome to attend any of the workshops hosted across the nation. Online materials are also available to any interested producer or marketer.
This research project was a collaboration of universities across four states and is funded by the USDA program for beginning farmers and ranchers. University representatives provided new materials, tools and training in a series of three stages.
- 2012: Developed effective training tools highlighting the use of online marketing tools
- 2013: Hosted workshops discussing use of social media and other strategies for marketing
- 2014: Launched online training materials and encourage using social media for producer-consumer interaction
Erica Irlbeck, Ed.D. is an assistant professor in agricultural communications at Texas Tech University. Prior to her faculty appointment, she served beginning farmers and ranchers in the information/education capacity. She was a reporter for AgDay Television, a nationally-syndicated agricultural news program aimed at informing the nation's producers. She was also the information coordinator for a regional water conservation district in Lubbock where she disseminated information to agricultural producers on water conservation. A beginning farmer herself, Erica and her husband began operating a small wheat and sorghum farm in Swisher County, Texas, in August 2010.
Courtney Meyers, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in agricultural communications at Texas Tech University where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in online marketing and convergence. Several of her recent research activities include examining how social media (specifically Facebook, Twitter and blogs) are being used in agricultural communications and developing best practices for those channels when advocating or promoting agriculture. She has been invited to present workshops on marketing communications with different audience groups including agricultural education teachers, 4-H youth leaders, and agricultural communications practitioners.
Cindy Akers, Ed.D. is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications at Texas Tech University as well as director of student services for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. She will serve as a Co-Project Director, providing lead instruction for components in the long format workshops. She has presented workshops on improving student engagement in the classroom nationwide and will lend her expertise to project instructional activities. Cindy also demonstrated leadership as a Co-Project Director for the USDA project, Big City, Big Country Road Show: Recruiting Nontraditional and Underrepresented Students into the Food and Agricultural Sciences Workforce.
Katie Abrams, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Technical Communication at Colorado State University. She teaches courses that focus on information design and communicating agriculture issues. Abrams was also a website planner, designer, and manager for agricultural businesses and organizations for six years. Her research has examined the marketing effectiveness of alternative agriculture products and consumer attitudes toward alternative agriculture products.
Chris Morgan, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at the University of Georgia where he teaches undergraduate and graduate agricultural leadership and communication courses. He spent four years as a high school agricultural science teacher, has a strong background in teaching methods and adult education, and has conducted train-the trainer programs focused on teaching methods for Egyptian agricultural science teachers. In addition, his research has focused on curriculum evaluation in the fields of communication and leadership. These experiences make him uniquely qualified to provide the proper content needed in this grant.
Lauri M. Baker, Ph.D., is currently an assistant professor at Kansas State University in the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education. She teaches a course focused on social media for the agricultural and natural resource industries. Before moving to Kansas, Lauri received her M.S. and Ph.D. in agricultural communication at the University of Florida with a focus on social media and online module development. Prior to beginning her graduate work, she was the Vice President and Director of Communication for the Texas Wheat Producers Board and Association where her responsibilities included coordinating all communication efforts on behalf of the wheat producers of Texas. Lauri worked directly with beginning farmers and ranchers and presented seminars and legislative programs throughout the state targeted for producers of multiple crops.