AEC’s Irlbeck wins national USDA Teaching & Student Engagement Award
By: Norman Martin
Erica Irlbeck, a professor of agricultural communications within Texas Tech's Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, has been named one of two recipients of the National Teaching and Student Engagement Award. The award celebrates university faculty for their use of innovative teaching methods and service to students.
“I am completely humbled by this award,” Irlbeck said. “It is so rewarding to watch our students develop into excellent agricultural communicators. Great students and supportive co-workers make the job so fulfilling, and to be awarded in this way is one of the great honors of my career.”
Created to honor faculty members with a 75 percent or greater teaching appointment, the award recognizes a recipient's impact on student development within his or her discipline, interaction with students and implementation of a research-based approach to improve teaching. Irlbeck was selected by a committee of her peers from universities across the country because of her significant positive effects on students inside and outside of classrooms.
“Dr. Irlbeck has a passion for what she does,” said CASNR Interim Dean Cindy Akers. “She brings great commitment and enthusiasm to her students.”
Since joining the Tech's faculty in 2009, Irlbeck has taught students in video production in agriculture, agricultural communications campaigns and professional development. Her research interests include risk and crisis communications, agriculture in television media and agricultural communications campaigns. In 2020, Irlbeck received a Chancellor's Council Distinguished Teaching Award, one of the highest faculty honors in Texas Tech University System. The award recognizes those who demonstrate excellence in teaching, service to the teaching profession, service to students, professional growth and scholarly activity.
During that year she was also one of 90 individuals across the nation completing the national LEAD21 leadership-development program. LEAD21, short for Leadership for the 21st Century, is a development program for faculty, specialists, program and team leaders, research station and center directors, district and regional directors, department heads, chairs and others in leadership positions in universities' colleges of agricultural, environmental and human sciences.
Other recent honors for Irlbeck include the Texas Tech University President's Excellence in Teaching Award (2018); Association for Communications Excellence Award of Excellence-Academic Programs Learning Community (2016); and the Non-Land-Grant Agricultural and Renewable Resources Universities' Young Educator Award (2015).
In addition, she is faculty supervisor for Picador Creative, a communications service center established in 2014 by the Department of Agricultural Education & Communications. Picador Creative provides scholarships and hands-on experience to students while filling a much-needed role for agricultural organizations, businesses and individuals in the Lubbock and South Plains communities.
Prior to her academic career, Irlbeck worked in agricultural television news, farm radio, public relations and advertising. She received her doctorate in agricultural education from Texas Tech. Her bachelor's degree in agricultural communications is from Oklahoma State and her master's degree is from Tech.
CONTACT: Cindy Akers, Interim Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or firstname.lastname@example.org