Blog 1: Introduction to Agricultural Communication Theory

Thanks for joining me for week one in agricultural communication theory. I don’t want to repeat too much information contained in other places on this website or in the syllabus, so please spend some time on this website this week to find out about the course. I will hit a few highlights. Find your weekly readings here and in your text for the course. For information about how to participate in this blog see the assignments page. View the course syllabus for all other details not included in this blog post. See the welcome page to contact me.

With all of the housekeeping information out of the way, let’s talk about this class. Technology is now more important than ever to agricultural communication, as witnessed by your participation in this course online.  I seek to use new technology to connect with people in my research, personal life, and teaching. My goal for this blog is to make a connection between the general communication theories in your text and agricultural communication while allowing us to discuss the text and additional readings as a class. I want this to be a virtual classroom where we can bring ideas together and learn from each other. In my initial posts I will offer insight into your assigned readings and pose questions to you. I encourage you to bring in your experiences, as we will all have different insight based on our past interactions.

This first week, I would like for us to all introduce ourselves. Share with us your first name, your connection with agriculture and natural resources, why you’re taking this course, and something unique about yourself. I will get us started. I am Dr. Lauri M. Baker. I received my B.S. in agricultural communication from Texas Tech University in May 2003. I then went on to work for the Texas Wheat Producers as their Vice President and Director of Communications for nearly five years. I loved that job and the connections I was able to make with farmers and buyers of wheat. I also enjoyed the opportunity to have interns and share what I knew about agricultural communications. This lead me to graduate school at the University of Florida where I received my M.S. and PhD in agricultural communication. When I started my graduate work, my primary interest was in teaching. However, I quickly started to get excited about research and the understanding it offered related to how people think about and perceive agriculture and the environment. By the time I graduated with my PhD in April 2011 and accepted by first tenure-track faculty position at Kansas State University, I was driven to continually work on research. Primarily, I continue to design research projects to determine how agriculture and natural resources can communicate more strategically with the public and the role new media plays in impacting the bottom line of these industries through the Center I co founded, The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement.  

Let’s discuss chapter one of your text. Chapter one talks about communication as a basis for human interaction and shared culture. Agriculture certainly has an unique culture. This culture can be a blessing and a concern when discussing agricultural communication theory. Often we see agriculturalists “preaching to the choir”. We love to tell ourselves how great we are at producing the world’s food and conserving land for future generations. It is also a part of our culture to keep to each other when we need to share agriculture’s story with the general public. I have also seen this close culture take on a negative connotation. I have seen some involved in agriculture develop an outward superiority assuming everyone outside of agriculture doesn’t have good values or a hard work ethic. Your book describes this occurrence as a perceptual consequence. This social structure is something we will continue to discuss as we look at ways to apply theory to engage the public in conversations about agriculture. Your book talks about the need for strategic communication, which is a term you will continue to hear throughout this course. Communicating strategically is extremely important when dealing with complex, scientific topics like food policy, biotechnology, and precision agriculture.

When your book discusses social reality as a dialectical process, an agricultural example immediately comes to my mind. We have seen the general public become farther and farther removed from production agriculture, primarily due to technological advances in agricultural science. This has been a challenge in the public’s perceived value of those who produce the world’s food supply. In recent years we have seen a shift. The public no longer wants to be completely removed from food production. The public now regularly expresses an interest in visiting farms, purchasing locally grown items, and even growing some food themselves. This concern also extends to the way animals are handled in meat and dairy products. The public’s concern offers new challenges and opportunities for agricultural communicators, which we will continue to explore.

I would imagine many of you have “lay theories” right now related to why people behave the way they do, I encourage you to continue to think about these. Perhaps your lay theory will work into a research question you can examine in order to inductively create theory, or perhaps as we examine existing theory you realize there is already a related communication theory. You may also began to ask more questions as you learn about new theories. You may end up developing a research question in order to deductively add to theory. I encourage you to continue to question and seek answers. Please share your questions and answers with the class. This is how we will all continue to grow together. I encourage you to use pg. 14- 19 of this chapter as you encounter theory in the book and in your assignments. As a scholar, continue to seek validity for theory.

Now, I want to hear from you. As you read chapter one, what connections to agriculture did you notice? It is ok if you do not have an agricultural background. That will make our discussion even more diverse. What terms and/or theories stood out to you as describing agricultural communication? Can you think of a strategic communication effort in agriculture and natural resources? What challenges do you see to strategic communication in agriculture and natural resources? Also, remember to introduce yourself.

28 thoughts on “Blog 1: Introduction to Agricultural Communication Theory

  1. Hello class! I am Ashlyn Richardson and a primary student of the University of Missouri-Columbia. I received my Bachelor of Science degree from Mizzou in Agriculture Education-Leadership in 2015. It was always my goal after the conclusion of my Bachelor’s degree to continue into my Master’s. I am pursuing it in Agriculture Education-Leadership as well. My connection to agriculture goes back to when I was born 24 years ago. I have been born and raised on my family farm and cattle ranch. I play a role each day in caring for the show cattle portion of the operation, as we sell cattle to youth involved in 4-H and FFA. I also serve as the sales and marketing coordinator and correspond daily with all customers and potential customers. My love and passion for working within agriculture as well as being an advocate is very strong.

    I enjoyed the blog as well as the first week’s reading. I believe that reflecting on various theories within agriculture communication is very prominent in today’s time. The world is vastly changing and becoming very much of an online communication system. The theory that struck me as being the most important was regarding media. Agriculture is portrayed in such a variety of ways throughout different forms of media that many opinions can be developed. As agriculture communicators it is our duty to learn what is being said regarding agriculture as well as what we should do as an industry to put agriculture in a positive light within the media. I look forward to learning from each of you!

    Thanks,

    Ashlyn Richardson

    1. Hi Ashlyn,

      I agree with your comment, ” Agriculture is portrayed in such a variety of ways…”, especially through media. We all see so many positives things happening in agriculture with technological advances and research, but there are also many negative aspects or concerns that are voiced. Personally, I want to be able to comfortably communicate with those disagreeing on the way some agricultural processes work. For example, GMO is a huge issue and I want to be able to communicate that genetically modified organisms have been around for a very long time, it’s not a new concept, nor harmful.

      Maybe this is just a part of me needing to broaden my education and open my ears to all opinions and thoughts, but it is definitely something I need to improve on.

      Jessie W.

      1. Hello all!

        My name is Jessica Woofter and I am a first year graduate student in Agricultural Education. I received my Bachelors degree from Kansas State University in Agronomy in December of 2015 as well. After graduation, I worked for the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide and Fertilizer Program where I certified commercial pesticide applicators and arranged training programs for continuing education credit.

        Recently, I moved to Tennessee due to military obligations and am working for an independent seed company. I will be working on my degree online while in Tennessee and hope to relocate to Kansas in the next few years.

        My experience with agriculture starts with 4h. I raised and showed sheep in shows across the nation, even Arizona and Kentucky. But I didn’t pursue a career in animal husbandry, as my dad sparked my interest in the seed business. I worked for my dad during the summer at the seed business and then worked at the seed lab in Manhattan while attending college.

        While reading the first chapter of the book, I immediately became intrigued about communication between people. Metts pointed out that we forget how complex and important communication is until something is broken or goes wrong. I immediately related this to my personal life – work, social, and relationships. But I feel that once I recognize some of these issues, I can keep them from happening again or handle the issue in a better why. In other words, I have lay theories about how my partner, coworker, or friend will act in certain situations and I can respond accordingly.

        Another part of these interactions that stood out to me are the behavioral consequences, specifically conversational synchrony. Being in a sales position, I’ve learned that sometimes I have to adjust my tone of voice or hand gestures to whom I am communicating with. I am typically energetic and have a louder voice, but if I am sensing that my prospect is a bit more docile and reserved, I am able to tone my voice down and mimic their communication style. I feel that pursuing that this concept is important while pursuing a Masters in Agricultural Education. I need to be able to communicate on several levels and with different styles (without losing my personality that is).

        Like the beginning of the chapter, I don’t consider myself a “theorist.” It is apparent that everyone is through at least lay theory and the daily assumptions and beliefs we have. One of the interesting parts of this chapter I found was on inductive and deductive theories and how one person doesn’t typically rely on one when forming a theory.

        Overall this chapter pointed out a lot of obvious findings in everyday life. It is interesting to understand that theories are in everyday life and not just those conducting research.

        Just a curious question, how do you typically form opinions or theories. Inductively? Do you put blinders on and build your own observations? Or Deductively? Do you observe an existing theory and try to confirm or challenge the theory?

      2. Welcome to the class Jessica! Thanks for your excellent examples of adjusting your speaking tone in communication.

    2. Hi Ashlyn,
      I really enjoyed reading your post I shared a very similar response to the first chapters reading as you did. With the up-rise in technology and social media I too feel that our world is vastly changing into an online communication system. I hope that I can learn to how to respond better when people heavily criticize farming/ hunting on social media. Just recently we were criticized for having our dairy cattle in a barn with “dried yellow grass.” (Which was actually silage but the person did not know what silage was and had probable never seen it before.
      Thanks for sharing,
      Leah D.

  2. Jessica,

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. We definitely have very much in common as I have shown livestock all over the country as well, primarily Registered Angus cattle. I was very active in 4-H and FFA growing up, and after my time involved in those I then began helping assist the local chaptersI myself have also always been interested in seed sales. My passion is corresponding with those in agriculture due to my farming background within the family farm, as well as ag sales. In regards to your discussion with theory, I found your words about communication to be very effective. I believe that different gestures as well as usage of language can work differently in various situations. Not to change who you are as an individual but it can be best to change forms of communication depending on who you are speaking with. In addition, I typically form my own opinions of theories after doing the necessary studying. I enjoyed learning from you. Good luck in the course!

    Thanks,

    Ashlyn Richardson

    1. Jessica,

      I found your introduction interesting. I myself am a military spouse so I understand how military obligations can cause one to relocate. I also was very active in 4-H and FFA. I love how you added some questions to the end that really got me to think a little deeper about how I communicate and things that I may be doing to put blinders up. I agree with you that I find everyday life theories to be interesting and need to focus on them instead of the scientific theories. I enjoyed reading your post and look forward to getting to know you this semester.

      Best,

      Christina Peterson

  3. Greetings! My name is Alyssa S., and I live in a rural area in Northern California. As I like to say, I’ve been involved in agriculture since I was old enough to hold a shovel. I grew up helping with my family’s almond orchard operation, and when I entered high school, I started a small project pig business. I received a B.S. degree in Livestock and Business Management in 2013, and after graduation, I worked for a youth development organization and oversaw their animal science education program. I recently changed organizations, and I now work for a statewide land trust in the Communications and Development Department. I’m also still an active partner, or a “weekend warrior” as I like to say, in my family’s almond operation. Working for a land trust that helps cattle ranchers by working with them to place conservation easements on their ranches, I am often tasked with explaining what this organization does. It’s my job to explain the “what’s in it for me” to members of the general public who don’t realize the environmental benefits of responsible cattle grazing. In order to be successful in my role, I need to be able to craft strategic messages. I’m hopeful that learning about the theories of communication will help me become a better agricultural communicator.

    While reading Chapter 1, I zoomed in on the section on the dialectical process because I immediately saw a connection to the agricultural industry. Those of us in the agricultural industry have likely heard the statistic, that only 2% of the Americans are directly involved in agriculture. Agricultural advancements and increased efficiency from technology seem to be somewhat of a blessing and a curse for those of us in the industry. On the one hand, we have been able to keep up with the agricultural production needs of a growing population; yet on the other hand, this has created a disconnect between the general public and the agricultural industry. The realization of this divide has prompted many in the agricultural industry to take steps to “educate the public”.

    In order to educate the public, many in the agricultural industry have started “grass root” efforts. For example, the “My Job Depends on Ag” Facebook Group was created by a couple of farmers in a rural area of Central California who wanted to help inform the general public about the importance of agriculture. This group now has over 75K followers, and provides a forum for people to discuss issues in agriculture. This group is also a prime example of the unique social culture in agriculture.

    While following this particular group, I’ve noticed that sometimes agriculturalists can be their own worst enemy. We (those of us in the industry) want to make headway through compliance gaining (a key term that stood out to me while reading this chapter), by influencing the general public and helping them understand the important role that agricultural plays in our existence. Yet, when differing opinions are vocalized, especially on hot button topics like GMO’s and animal welfare issues, some agriculturalists will either throw out facts to “educate and persuade” the general public, or will resort to name-calling. This often results in the general public developing negative perceptions of the industry, instead of the positive perceptions. This scenario, which I’ve observed a countless number of times, is not, in my opinion, strategic.

    Learning to communicate strategically is becoming increasingly more important for agriculturalists, especially as we set out to influence the public. Back in 2008, the Farm Animal Cruelty Act (Proposition 2) was on the ballot in California. The act, which ended up passing by a large margin, sought to eliminate the use of battery cages for poultry, gestation stalls for swine, and calf crates for veal. The poultry industry worked on a campaign to influence voters to vote “No” on the proposition, and to help voters understand the poultry and human health risks associated with the elimination of battery cages. The campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, but this goes to show the need for effective and strategic communication within agriculture.

    One of the biggest barriers to strategic communications, in my opinion, is ourselves. As Dr. Baker stated, we often “preach to the choir”. In my opinion is seems like we need to educate ourselves on how to craft and share strategic messages before we can “educate” and “influence” others on agricultural issues if we hope to be effective.
    I’m very excited to take part in this course and learn about the different communications theories. I’m hopeful that discussing the connections of these theories to agriculture with everyone in this class will be very enlightening.

    1. Welcome to the class! Thank you for your insights on the chapter and your perspective on agriculture and technology.

    2. Hi Alyssa,

      You bring up a good point about strategic communication and how it is not always done correctly in agriculture. I had not heard of the “My Job Depends on Ag” Facebook page but, after reading your post, I looked it up. I was going to follow it but when I read some of the latest posts, realized that I don’t want to. It seems a lot of the posts are grumblings from farmers. Reading these posts, even as someone involved with agriculture, I felt like an outsider. I think that your reminder about using strategic communications effectively is a great one! I know that I have seen some really good messages from farmers and producers but have also seen some that made me cringe because they did not promote agriculture well.

      Deanna R.

    3. Alyssa,

      I love how you bring up the dialectic process and its connection to agriculture. This was my first thought when reading the Chapter as well. As an agriculture education major, I love sharing the statistic that only 2% are involved with my students. I also have a sorority sister who took the education disconnect and made a Facebook page in college that has gotten nationwide attention, Through the Lens of a Farm Girl. I love finding these pages on Facebook and following them. I had not heard of yours but looked it up and started following it. I look forward to learning from you throughout the semester.

      Best,

      Christina Peterson

    4. Hi Alyssa,
      I agree that there is a disconnect between the general public and the agricultural industry. Just the other day I offered my neighbor farm fresh eggs and they told me they could only eat store bought eggs not ones that came from a chicken coop which left me absolutely speechless to say the least. I also never knew about the “my job depends on ag” facebook group but I am excited to check it out.
      Thanks for sharing,
      -Leah D.

  4. Hi everyone! My name is Anissa, and I’m a graduate student focusing on agricultural communications. My undergraduate degree is also from Kansas State in agricultural communications and journalism. I grew up on small farm in southeast Kansas, which sparked my interest in agriculture and FFA in high school. In addition to my experiences with the production side of agriculture, I have also been exposed to a more consumer and food product-oriented side of things through my family’s restaurant, Chicken Annie’s Girard. I’m excited to take this course so I can understand the basics of some of the theories we use in our discipline and begin to form my own research questions within the industry.

    As I read Chapter 1, one of the first instances I connected with agriculture was when “receiver perspective” was discussed, more specifically the unintentional aspect of it. Because many people in the agricultural industry unintentionally aren’t always communicating about their operations, animals, products, etc., today’s consumers can interpret this as being guilty or having something to hide. I think this example is very broad, but it still captures an example of a non-verbal, unintentional message sent to someone else (or a group) that created meaning in the receiver. Another early on connection to agriculture I made was the dialectical process through changes in the material world. I believe this is a big area that agriculture has changed compared to the past. Now more than ever, we have technology, discoveries, inventions, and innovations included in our production process. This is something different than consumers are accustomed to, which can promote a change in society.

    When I thought back to what reminded me of agricultural communications in Chapter 1, I felt strategic described it well, in more ways than one. The most prominent example being that the definition describes constructing messages with motivations or goals in mind. Many agricultural businesses and organizations operate with a main goal of their communications efforts to purely share their story of agriculture with hopes of changing the consumers’ feelings toward it. Another example of strategic communication in agriculture I recognized was forming messages with particular messages in mind. This past summer, I worked for an agricultural client where their main target audience was opinion leaders and legislators. Therefore, our messages were different for those people versus the consumers because we had different goals in mind for those select people.

    Along with seeing correlations between agricultural communications and strategic communication, I also recognized some challenges between the two. One of the most prominent challenges that people will think of for strategic communication in agriculture and natural resources is the consumers’ removal and understanding of the agriculture. Additionally, I think there is a challenge when it comes to the amount of professionals in the discipline. I believe there is a need for many more people in agriculture who can communicate strategically and effectively with their target audience. These challenges will be difficult, but they excite me for the future as a student and professional.

    I look forward to getting to know and learn from everyone this semester!

    Thanks,

    Anissa

    1. Hey Anissa!

      You brought up some very good points and I could not agree more. When the book covers the unintentional communications, I feel like this is a huge part of agriculture communications that could use some work. As our industry grows and more and more people who are not directly connected become more interested in where their food is coming from it is important for the industry to always make sure what they are doing or saying is strategic and doing good for the industry and moving it forward rather than mindlessly stating things and drawing negative attention.

      I have personally only worked on the production side of agriculture so it was fun to hear about your experience and how you can tie it all together and see the major impact that agriculture communications has on agriculture and the major importance of it as the industry grows and more individuals who have not necessarily been around agriculture either enter the field or become interested in what agriculture has to provide.

      -Kelsey T.

  5. Hi everyone! My name is Kelsey Tully. I am a first year Master’s student studying Agriculture Communications at Kansas State University. I received my Bachelor’s of science from Fort Hays State University in agriculture animal science in May 2016. I had no intentions of getting my Master’s degree but after working in a position that I did not enjoy for a year, I thought why not go back to school and find a job I truly enjoy. I chose to go the agriculture communications route because I really hope to work in either livestock or 4-H extension when I complete my degree. I was born and raised in the city so my connection to agriculture is unique in a way. I started off as a nursing student at FHSU and my roommate, at that time, her father owned a small cow/calf operation near Sharon, KS. She took me back home with her and I fell in love with it all. My Junior year of college I decided to take a leap of faith and switch my major from nursing to animal science. My parents thought I was crazy but I have enjoyed all the opportunities it has led me to! I am taking this course for a couple of reasons. Firstly, since I have an animal science background, I have very little knowledge in the realm of communications and theories. I am also helping on a grant so learning more and knowing about the different theories will play a huge role in helping me make progress. As far as something unique about myself, I would have to say because I grew up in the city and not around agriculture directly, I have tried to make up for it by working various jobs to learn anything I could about agriculture. I have worked on a ranch, a feedlot, a sale bar, done therapeutic horseback riding, and probably the most unique job I have ever had is working on an alpaca farm.

    After reading Chapter 1, a couple of things that stood out to me that related to agriculture, were right off the bat, when the book started to discuss receiver and sender perspective. I think it is very important to understand the difference and know how to cater to both sides. The agriculture industry as a whole, I feel a lot of the time, is under a microscope. Anything we say or do is subject to scrutiny whether it be from the sender perspective and intentional or from the receiver perspective and be a non-verbal que or something perceived by another subject. This exemplifies why it is so important to be thoughtful and thorough with communication. When the book mentions communications as a “mechanism by which culture is constructed”, I think this can also be related to agriculture communications because we have to understand not everybody is going to be on board with our beliefs and how we do things, so learning to communicate with them in a way that could possibly change that belief system to bridge the gap between agriculture and the rest of the population is vital. The spiral of silence really stood out to me as a theory having a major effect on agriculture communications. Not coming from an agriculture background, I have succumbed to this theory a couple of times, feeling like I was a minority, I haven’t always had the strongest voice on some topics and I feel like this happens a lot and could potentially harm the industry. When I think of strategic communications in agriculture one of the first examples that pops into my head is black angus. The communication, branding and marketing of black angus, was so strategic and thought out that the market for black angus sky rocketed as a result. A potential challenge of strategic communication could be finding the right way to get a message out to a certain audience that is not welcoming to the agriculture industry. There are so many ways to say something but the approach and how you go about it can really help or hurt your cause.

    I look forward to this class and getting to know everyone!

    1. Welcome to the class Kelsey! Thank you for your perspective as an “outsider”, please continue to help provide that perspective in our discussion this semester.

    2. Kelsey, I really enjoyed reading your response. I also found the section of the chapter that discusses sender and receiver perspectives to be interesting. I agree with your statement that agriculture gets a lot of scrutiny. Your post is a good reminder that we need to be careful and think through how our messages will be perceived.

      Your post also helped me make the connection between sender and receiver perceptions and lay theories, within the scope of agriculture. We, as agricultural communicators, need to be careful about how our messages will be perceived. We want to make sure that people have access to accurate information. This is important as they form lay theories, either inductive theories or deductive theories, about agricultural. It’s important that their lay theories be based on observations from credible sources.

      I also really liked your example of strategic communications. The “Certified Angus Beef” campaign by the American Angus Association was brilliant as it appealed to retailers and grocery store consumers, alike.

      Alyssa S.

  6. Hello everyone! My name is Deanna Reid and I am from Virginia. My hometown, Broadway, is about two and a half hours south of Washington, D.C., which makes Agricultural Communication a very relevant and important topic in the area and in my life. Virginia has many different geographic regions, which allows for many types of agriculture and horticulture. Since we are so close to national government organizations, there are also a lot of agricultural issues that arise. I’m hoping that, with my Master’s degree, I can find a job in which I can be a part of promoting agriculture in Virginia. At least, that is what I want to do now. Who knows where I’ll want to be in 2 years!

    I have been connected to agriculture and horticulture since I was born. I grew up in a retail greenhouse operation that my parents bought after closing their fresh produce sales business. I was very involved in 4-H in high school and showed Market Beef steers and Red Angus heifers. With my first show heifer, I started DR Red Angus and currently have a small herd of registered Red Angus brood cows at my family’s farm. A fun fact about me is that I really like antique, classic, and muscle cars. My dream car is a lime green 1970 Plymouth Road Runner with a black leather interior, an Air Grabber hood scoop, and a 440 cubic inch, six barrel engine.

    I graduated from Ferrum College in 2013 with a B.S. in Agribusiness, a B.S. in Horticulture, and a B.A. in Spanish. After graduating, I was a full-time Greenhouse Grower at Riverbend Nursery for two years and then took a job with Virginia Cooperative Extension as the Master Gardener Coordinator for the New River Valley where I coordinated Master Gardener volunteers for four counties. Communication was a vital piece in both of my previous jobs, as it is in life in general, and I am looking forward to learning more about communication theories through this course so that I can build on my work experiences.

    I think that much of the communication that is happening in the agricultural industry today is strategic. Producers want to communicate about what they are doing and how they do it to combat negative media and increase business. Competitors tell consumers why their methods and products are better in order to sell more product. Since we all have our own goals in mind though, sometimes it can be hard to effectively communicate. I think that sometimes there is so much strategic communication going on, especially on social media, that it can be confusing.

    Strategic communication in agriculture is not all bad though. I follow several farms on Facebook and Instagram that use those platforms to show their friends and customers what a typical day on the farm looks like, what happens during the birth of a new dairy calf, or what types of fruits and vegetables are available throughout the season. These posts have been a great way to dispel myths about animal husbandry practices, explain why farmers do certain things, and also give the farms a more open, personal connection to readers and followers.

    I find I have a lot to think about after reading the first chapter of our book and Dr. Baker’s blog post. A piece of communication that I enjoyed reading about was conversational synchronicity. Having worked with Hispanic migrant workers at the nursery and also with volunteers with extensively varied backgrounds, I know that I regularly use conversational synchrony without even thinking. I have a tendency to speak quickly so when an older volunteer would come to my office, I slowed my speech and spoke as clearly as I could. I never thought of this as a part of a communicational theory but find it neat that it is!

    As I was reading, I thought of a situation in which I encountered the Communication Accommodation Theory, though I did not know that is what it was at the time. While I was working with my crew at the nursery, my Hispanic crew leader asked me why all of the Americans were always yelling when they talked to the migrant workers. He told me that the workers thought that the Americans were always upset with them but they could not figure out why. Until he asked me that, I hadn’t noticed but, after our conversation, I found that the other growers and American employees did, in fact, raise their voices when speaking to the laborers. They were not angry, as the workers thought, they were just subconsciously trying to communicate better. When I came upon this theory in the book, I found it interesting and am looking forward to learning more about it later in this course.

    I also found the part of the chapter on changes in dialectical process interesting. These changes are responsible for creating new topics that require further communication. As agricultural methods and technologies develop and change, so does the conversation around those things. In recent years, due to the advent of revolutionary new technologies and ideas, it has become necessary to define “foodies” and “locavores,” “precision agriculture,” and “genetically modified organisms,” whereas before, those terms did not exist. With the ever increasing use and popularity of so many forms of online media and social media, we already see a great need for accurate agricultural communication. As I am looking toward my future in Agricultural Communications, I find this somewhat exciting and challenging.

    I am very excited to be here at Kansas State and am very much looking forward to becoming a better communicator!

    1. Welcome to the class Deanna. Excellent example of raising voices in a subconscious way when communicating with people from another culture. Perception of these communication adaptations looks different from a different perspective.

    2. Deanna,

      I am excited to be in this class and learn from you. I myself am relocating to the D.C. area in October and my goal is to find a job promoting agriculture in the metro area as well. I also found the Communication Accommodation Theory to be interesting. I have lived twice in different countries with greatly different cultures than I grew up in the Midwest with. A lot of what I did non verbally was odd to some of the people I interacted with as. I find it important to be aware of the surroundings and to learn about different cultures to ensure that I have a basic understanding of the big differences that occur daily from my life to not offend them. An example of this that springs to mind is when I studied abroad in Australia. I ordered a hamburger and fries for a lunch meal which appalled a great deal of the people I was with because that was seen as a dinner meal, much to large for lunch. They customarily ate small meals for breakfast and lunch. Good luck this semester!

      Best,
      Christina Peterson

  7. Hello everyone!

    My name is Christina Peterson and I am pursuing my masters degree in Agriculture and Extension Education through North Carolina State University. I have my bachelors degree in Agriculture Leadership Education from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I currently live in Minot, North Dakota but am originally from Southern Illinois but in October I will relocate to the D.C. area. As you can tell, I tend to move a lot, this is due to being a military spouse. Over the past 3 years since I finished my undergrad, I have moved 4 times. With these moves, one involved living the Netherlands for 6 months where my daughter was born this past Christmas eve.

    I have been involved with agriculture since as long as I can remember. When I was old enough to be in 4-H I joined and started my rabbit and chicken projects. From there I joined FFA, earned my state degree and helped launch our junior fairboard association through our county 4-H ambassador program. In college, I continued expanding my agriculture roots by joining an agriculture cooperative sorority that was founded for farmers daughters in the 1920’s with 4-H experience being a requirement.

    Before leaving for Europe, I was a high school agriculture instructor at a small town in North Dakota. This school had a graduating class of 15. I kick started the first ever agriculture program this school had seen. It was interesting to see all these farm kids unfamiliar with many common hot topics facing agriculture. They seemed to live in a bubble on the farm and did not know how to communicate about agriculture outside the farm.

    I am taking this course as one of my electives for my masters. I have always enjoyed communicating with others and my college roommate was an agriculture communication major. I thought that this class would help me further understand a lot of what she does in her current job and help me understand the process my daughter is going through to learn how to communicate. I also would like to learn how to help those agriculture students who are struggling to share their voice about agriculture effectively.

    When reading this chapter, my immediate connection to agriculture was how culture is shaped and sustained throughout time. This is vary obvious to me when I think of high school agriculture. Many of my students were 3rd or 4th generation farmers. They held true to a lot of the older generations beliefs but also had the old school mannerisms. Agriculture is a very tight knit community that prides itself on its genuine and humble culture.

    Something else that jumped out at me was how easy we see communication as we partake in it everyday. It is only when miscommunication occurs that we start to analyze how it works. With a very young daughter starting to find her voice, I find myself often trying to analyze the best way to help her develop her communication skills. Whether it is through babbling back to her, reading books, or just listening to her when she speaks I often feel like I could be doing more with my verbals. My non verbals she picks up on very quickly.

    As we are becoming more of an online community, I love seeing all the social media pages devoted to sharing the agriculture story but at times it seems that they themselves could use a refresher on how to communicate effectively.

    As an educator, I find myself wondering how my students form their own theories. Would understanding how they create theories help me better tailor lessons for their understanding?

    I look forward to learning with everyone and getting to know everyone.

    Best,
    Christina Peterson

    1. Welcome to the class Christina! What an interesting perspective you will be able to provide related to other cultures in our discussion based on your travels.

  8. Hello my name is Leah and I am an Animal Science Instructor at a University in upstate New York. I grew up on a fifth generation diversified livestock farm, and am an avid supporter of the future of agriculture which is why I enjoy teaching. I am taking this course because I would like to learn how to communicate better with others, so protect both mine and the universities image to the best of my professional ability.
    One of the main things that stood out to me in this chapter that I was able to connect back to the agricultural industry is that communication is often taken for granted. Today with the up rise in social media I feel the agricultural community is more heavily scrutinized than ever before, whether they be a dairy farmer milking their cattle, a rancher branding their livestock, or a chicken farmer processing their meat no matter how by the book you do it there will always be someone there to manipulate and say things were not done humanely. Just the other day the university that I work at was heavily analyzed and bashed online by an uneducated person who had taken pictures of our dairy cattle eating corn silage in their free stall barn. This person went to very high extremes to call out our university with animal abuse saying our cattle were forced to eat dried yellow grass because they were not allowed to graze out on pasture, little did this person know the “dried yellow grass,” was corn silage which provides a better protein to their diet than just grass alone. The biggest point I want to make here is that with the lack of people growing up with an agricultural background is it merely impossible for us to enter the agricultural industry without being put under fire at least once within our lifetime, if we want to continue to make strives and have a successful agricultural industry we need to learn how to deal with criticism no matter how unrealistic it may be so that we don’t harm relationships but instead educate and solve any misunderstandings which may have transpired. One thing that I really enjoyed reading was that, “no book, and no amount of knowledge about communication theories can prevent you from occasionally experiencing poorly managed communication challenges and unfortunate consequences.” Meaning people will go to drastic measures occasionally to say you are mistreating an animal even though you feed them the most qualified diet, criticism is just something that happens no matter if you do all of the right things. Then the book goes on to say by studying communication theories we can be prepared for possible outcomes and the best ways to handle them. There are so many ways we could have responded to this uneducated person criticizing our university, one way would to be to call them a few choice word names and let all of our anger out, but what that make the situation any better? Our duty as a university is to manage our responses especially on social media so that it does not damage our image or create an even bigger misunderstanding. A strategic communication effort in agriculture and natural resources that comes to my mind especially in this day and age is developing a social media marketing plan, deciding how you receive or send messages, and how do you manage your own image. For example: Who am I trying to reach? How often do people need to encounter my message? When should I communicate (day, week, month, year)? Ect. A challenge I see in strategic communication in agriculture is that if you walk into a super market it is very easy to identify that there is an overload in brands, it is becoming more challenging to create successful ads without bombarding the consumers. How do we use media to market our product for new brand opportunities without overwhelming our consumers?

    1. Welcome to the class Leah! You make some excellent connections to the chapter. I look forward to learning more about you and your work throughout the semester.

  9. Hi, everyone! My name is Hannah Anderson. I am working on a master’s degree at K-State in Communications and Ag Education. I also have my undergrad degree from K-State in Ag Education- go cats! I currently work at a 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent for K-State Research and Extension in Harvey County, which is about two hours from K-State’s main campus.
    My connection to agriculture is usually different than some of my classmate’s, because I was not raised in a farm family and hardly had any understanding of the industry until my junior year of high school. That year my high school built a new Ag building and I enrolled in a few of the new classes that they offered. My passion for agriculture started there. I saw a huge disconnect between agriculture and people living in my small Kansas town, including my own family. I loved sharing everything that I was learning in school with friends, family and neighbors. Eight years later, my passion for helping people understand agriculture and its impact in their daily lives hasn’t changed.
    As a 4-H Youth Development Agent, a large part of my daily work deals with communication. In this first chapter as we get a glimpse of communication theories, I already feel like “it all makes sense now”! One connection to agriculture that I immediately thought of is how we, as ag communicators, need to make agriculture a commonplace communication. The text starts by explaining how “pervasive and commonplace” communication really is. About how it happens everywhere, including via the telephone computer or the grocery store. As an agriculture student and now an Extension Agent, “commonplace” communication about agriculture has become very regular for me. As agriculture communicators, I am sure that it is the goal of all of us to make agriculture such a regular topic.
    The agriculture industry definitely has to plan their communications strategically to meet multiple goals and please many different audiences. For example, a beef brand might strategically identify messages that will resonate with the target audience for a specific product. The company or brand would identify who the audience is, what they are shopping for and what messages reach them. By communicating strategically, the company can break through with the right message on the right channel to the desired consumer to impact purchasing decisions.

    1. Welcome to the class Hannah! I appreciate your insights and am interested to learn more about the connections you see related to communication theory and your job as an extension agent.

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