Boots, buckles and excellent editing

OSU logoThe following is a guest post by University of Guelph student Rebecca Hannam, who recently participated in a student exchange with ag communications students at Oklahoma State University.

CanACT logoMembers of CanACT, the Canadian Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow at the University of Guelph visited Oklahoma State University (OSU) recently and learned that Oklahomans are proud of more than just their boots – their agricultural communicators are in style too!

The trip was made possible through a campus exchange inspired by the National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) program and I was honored to represent Canadian agriculture as a participant.

Our trip began with introductions to the faculty and students from the Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership. We learned a lot about OSU Cowboy spirit and toured their beautiful campus.

One of the most impressive aspects of their undergraduate program is the result of a capstone course taken by seniors in their final semester, the Cowboy Journal magazine. The magazine is published bi-annually and each article, advertisement and layout is created by students.

A major goal of our trip was to learn about farming practices and communication techniques in rural Oklahoma. We were indeed able to learn a lot about many aspects of American agriculture and brought home many interesting facts and new ideas from our southern neighbours.

One of the most eye-opening farm tours was to Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie, OK. Lazy E Ranch is a world leader in horse breeding and breeds over 900 mares each year. We were able to meet with Sarah Gammil, a communications specialist at Lazy E, who told us about her career journey in agricultural communications and the responsibilities of her current position.

Sarah works on writing, advertisements and promotional materials for horse sales at Lazy E Ranch and also communicates with their clients on a weekly basis. Sarah credits her education in writing for her career success.

“If you can write, you can do anything in any kind of business,” Sarah told the student group.

As young communicators, it was interesting to learn that some Oklahoma farms and ranches offer communication staff positions, unlike the size of farms we are accustomed to here in Ontario. The OSU students were also able to make connections with Sarah that could lead to future internships.

The OSU ACT chapter also booked tours of the Cowboy Hall of Fame and other museums in our itinerary so we were able to get a complete cultural Oklahoma experience.

Student agricultural communicators from OSU will be visiting the CanACT club at the University of Guelph in early March. Stay tuned to Food and Farming Canada for another post about this part of the trip!

Rebecca Hannam was raised in a farming family and is now a member of the Ontario Agricultural College Class of 2012 at the University of Guelph. You can find Rebecca on Twitter @rebeccahannam.

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