More than $21,000 in scholarships is at stake as college students host educational events and social media posts to advocate for American livestock industries.
The event, College Aggies Online, is hosted by the Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA) as an opportunity for training and mentorship in promoting livestock production, according to an AAA press release. The event began Sept. 16.
“College Aggies Online is an opportunity for college students who are passionate about agriculture to learn how to communicate about the industry from some of the best agriculture advocates out there,” said Casey Kinler, AAA manager of communications.
Both individuals and college clubs can compete in two separate divisions. College clubs host events such as “Scary Food Myths” where participants distribute candy with facts and myths about agriculture. Individuals study a different sector of animal agriculture each week and receive mentorship from industry professionals and farmers.
Chloe Carson, manager of digital communications with the National Pork Producers Council, serves as a mentor in the program.
“I mentored week number one this year with Lukas Fricke, a pork producer from Nebraska,” Carson says. “Throughout the week, I provided students with different apps and programs that could be used to create their posts. Additionally, I provided sample content that dug a little bit deeper into some of the policy issues facing U.S. pork producers and their efforts in environmental sustainability.”
Carson first mentored in the College Aggies program three years ago and has been asked back each year. She says while students can receive scholarship money, there is also a huge commitment.
“I definitely applaud those students who are participating in the program. Overall, I was very, very impressed with their content,” Carson says.
Carson also encourages those not in the College Aggies program to speak up.
“I often emphasize to our farmers that they are the ones most familiar with their farms and with their operations, so just tell your story,” she says. “Explain why you do what you do and why agriculture is important to you. It doesn’t have to be paragraph after paragraph.”
Although she gives advanced social media training in the College Aggies program, Carson says social media strategy can be effective without being complicated.
“I always recommend that individuals go with the platform they're most familiar with, whether that be Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. If someone has a real interest in photography, and they don't have a platform already, start with Instagram. If they want to keep things short and concise, go with Twitter,” she says.