Blog 2: Tools of The Trade: AgCom Journals and Resources for Research

In order to understand theory within agricultural communication, it is important to understand the disciple. The articles you read this week were included to do exactly that. Additionally, I wanted to introduce you to the Journal of Applied Communications (JAC). JAC is the only journal dedicated specifically to agricultural communication research.  There are other journals that publish research related to agricultural communication like the Journal of Agricultural Education, Agriculture and Human Values, and the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Journal.

Mainstream communication journals also impact agricultural communication theory and will publish articles related to scientific communication, teaching communication, health communication, and environmental communication, which are all subjects that impact agricultural communication. In order to streamline the process for this course, our selected journal article readings all come from JAC, but please make note of the vast number of different journals cited within the JAC articles we read.

In the article you read this week by Naile, Robertson, and Cartmell they outlined many more details relating to JAC’s history and content. Because they looked at JAC up to 2006, there are some changes I would like to note. JAC used to only be published quarterly, however, recently in 2014 JAC will add one more journal per year. There is a more recent version of the National Research Agenda than the one mentioned in the article, which you can find here. The article also mentions the Agricultural Communication Documentation Center (ACDC), which is an excellent resource for scholarly and popular sources related to agricultural communications.

Table 4 in the publication shows the populations investigated. I would assume that if this study were repeated with articles since 2006, you would see members of the general public as a population investigated frequently. Our communication with members of the general public has increased in this timeframe, and I know of research focusing specifically on these groups,  we will read some later in the semester. What other gaps did you notice in the populations investigated? I would have liked to see an investigation of which theories were utilized in research published in JAC. Do you have other critical evaluations to offer?

There is an organization that focuses on researching perceptions of the general public related to agriculture and natural resources. This organization is the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (PIE Center). I encourage you to seek out this organization as you explore research and theory related to agricultural communication. The PIE Center has webinars on current research projects that are free to join. You may consider attending one or more of these.

If you’re interested in new and social media research related to agriculture, the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement at Kansas State University focuses on conducting and sharing research on the use of new technology to improve rural livelihoods and producers’ bottomline.

The Irani and Doerfert article you read offered history of agricultural communication and the outlook for the future. I wanted to point out a few things in this article and pose questions for your consideration. First, note the importance given to strategic communication. As you may have guessed from last week’s post, this theme will continue throughout our discussion of theory. Also, the authors’ discussion of the digital age related to agriculture and the green divide. How have you seen these change your communication with audiences? Perhaps this is on behalf of your current job, maybe as a part of a personal advocacy movement, or with members of your family who aren’t familiar with agriculture.

I would also like for you to take note of the discussion related to the academic field. If you graduated with an undergraduate degree in agcom, what do you think about the lack of standardization of course offerings? Do you believe your education would have been enhanced if your program were structured differently? What about dual listing of graduate and undergraduate classes? For those of you in other disciplines, has your academic pursuit been similar? different?

I believe the challenges mentioned related to a low number of faculty positions and small research appointments adversely affect our profession, as the authors mentioned. Recently, PIE Center and the University of Florida have hired faculty members with higher research appointments than teaching or extension appointments. This represents a change in our discipline, which may allow an increase in agricultural communication theory and research productivity. Of course, this is just one institution. Finally, as a class with people from multiple academic disciplines, what do you think about the concept of Figure 1 and multi-disciplinary instructional efforts? What benefits do you see? What challenges exist?

When I first started teaching this course, I struggled to identify the theory used in the discipline of agricultural communication. That is why I developed the study presented in the third journal article you read. The purpose of this study was to describe how theory is used in agricultural communication and what theories are used. This article was a part of the 100th JAC issue and offers a state of the industry related to theory. We will discuss these theories in more detail throughout the course and will discuss how theory can be used an applied. At this point, I just want you to be aware of this article as a resource for theory in the discipline and as a reference for your assignments throughout the semester. In your discussion this week you are welcome to comment on this article too if you have something to say, or just respond to my questions about the other articles.

25 thoughts on “Blog 2: Tools of The Trade: AgCom Journals and Resources for Research

  1. Starting my response this week related to the Examining JAC: An Analysis of the Scholarly Progression of the Journal of Applied Communications article, I found the studied populations quite interesting; irregardless of the time frame of the study. I certainly agree with Dr. Baker, I am sure that if this time bracket was more recent there would be an increase in number of articles reaching a more “generic” clientele. I would be interested to know how an audience from a social media platform would fit into this study as well. Several groups representing print subscribers are present in their study but none from an online audience. I would imagine more growth would come from that group more recently.

    In Irani & Doeferts article, their presentation of the green divide and how it is said to be “inspiring the industry” is incredibly accurate, in my opinion. For those of us still connected to the farm or heavily invested into the industry in some capacity that audience is our driving force. It appears as though the best way for us to reach them is through social or online media – meeting them where they are. People want facts and they want authenticity. They want to know their interacting with a trustworthy source who they will potentially continue to come back to for information. I am one of the FFA Advisors for the local chapter at the high school I teach agriculture at. An example of how I have seen this green divide affect my students is in the way they verbally communicate about the FFA with “outsiders.” So often, we water down agriculture to simply “ag” and more often than not the audience we’re communicating with doesn’t know what “ag” means. We work hard to coach our FFA officers to stop saying and writing “ag” and use the word entirety. It also helps them understand that even just two letters can leave a reflection on our industry, our words matter! This has to be a group effort, no matter our background or our specialization, which is why I see such value in the structure concept describe in Figure 1. We try and apply the same concept at the high school level, modeling collaboration at a fairly simple level. But it shows that more heads, with varying background increases the potential of success for the group. It creates some intiatal challenges as group members will need to spend some time building community amongst themselves. Identifying each others strengths and weakness and roles they may play in the group. Diverse groups like those modeled in the article allow us to better understand the industry and in turn better serve those who fall in the green divide.

    Though my undergraduate degree was not directly in Agriculture Communications , Agriculture Education is a pretty close second. My degree program more than prepared me for entering the classroom. The faculty worked hard to develop an academic schedule that was rigourous but also authentic and contextual a model that all programs need to adapt. Allowing for field experience through student teaching, of course, short field experience, teaching labs to apply methods courses, travel, etc. If I could change anything about the program at the time, I would love to see room in the academic schedule that allowed for more student autonomy in the courses I selected, with however; guidance from my academic advisor to help direct me to classes that would allow me to dig and in and learn more about content areas where I lacked experience and previous knowledge, or courses that would challenge me to grow more in my strengths.

    1. I would have to agree with you about a lot of things mentioned in your response Janae! I couldn’t agree more with the fact of how the green divide and the affect on students. When our students water down agriculture to “ag” so many people don’t realize the true meaning to the word agriculture.

    2. Janae, I agree with you 110%. You mentioned a lot of things I never would have thought of – specifically to try to use the full word “agriculture” rather than just “ag.” I am very guilty of this, for no other reason than because I am too lazy to fully type of agriculture. I will work to be more conscience of this from now on!

      I think what you are trying to do with your high-schoolers as far as integrating programs goes sounds really awesome. Because agriculture is so diverse, it’s important to allow students to become familiar with all of their options within the industry and go with what they are most interested in. It also allows us to become more well-rounded individuals and communicators if we are familiar with several parts of the industry.

      -Rachel Waggie

  2. Another population that I noticed a gap in being investigated is agritourism owners and visitors. I think that since this is such a growing industry that there would be more research including these populations too.
    I would have liked to see the research discuss the fact that the University of Florida was the most represented institution by a little over double the second most represented institution. I wish that the researchers would have done a more in-depth analysis as the why behind this. Does university have a bigger program, is JAC being promoted more there, etc.?
    I completely agree with the importance placed on strategic communications. In today’s time, people can find something to support their argument at the click of the button and I feel like people are quick to “turn you off” if you are not saying something they agree with. I think that this makes it extremely important for us as agricultural communicators to be able to play the field and give people information that they may not agree with in a way that they will still listen to.
    I have definitely seen a change in my communications with others over the years. As an agriculture teacher, I have seen a growing distance between my students and their incoming knowledge of agriculture when compared to when I first started taking agriculture classes as an 8th grade student. Most of the students that come into my classes know nothing about agriculture and where their food comes from and many of them are five plus generations removed from the farm.
    Although my undergraduate was in Agricultural Education, I saw a huge difference in the program I started in my freshman year, verse the program I transferred to after my freshman year. Both programs allowed you to be a certified agriculture teacher when you graduated, but other than that they were structured completely differently. First, the program I started in was a Bachelor of Education and the program I transferred to was a Bachelor of Science. The course offerings varied greatly and some courses that were a requirement at one university did not even transfer for credit to the other university. I do think that the program could be greatly enhanced if the course offerings were more structured, organized, and uniform.
    I think that the idea of figure one is a good start, but I think that implementing a multidisciplinary instructional approach like that would be extremely difficult. I think it would be hard to have people with such different backgrounds and mindsets to understand the unified goal in this approach. I also think that there are groups in this multidisciplinary approach that would fit in all groups well and by putting them in one group, I think you are limiting yourself as a department.

    1. Tabitha, I think you make an excellent point about looking into why University of Florida is so heavily represented. Even as a student with an agricultural communications undergrad, I had no idea University of Florida had such an active ag comm program. I do have a lay theory about why they do so much research though.

      My ag communications undergraduate program at the University of Missouri has little to no focus on research, and most undergraduates do not go on to pursue a master’s degree of any kind. Even in my master’s program, students can graduate by participating in “creative component” work instead of a traditional thesis and research. Both of these programs have a heavy focus on producing communicators that are ready to go into the agriculture industry and work directly in the communications field, doing applied work instead of research. Missouri agriculture is a huge industry, and many large agricultural companies are housed here, such as MFA and Monsanto. So I wonder if Florida, with less traditional agriculture and possibly less traditional agriculture companies than Midwestern states, has less need to produce “in the field” communicators for their state’s ag industry, and thus it is more logical for them to focus on research that can benefit programs like mine.

    2. I completely agree about the idea of incorporating more individuals to represent agritourism. I think more people are probably removed from agriculture today than when this study was conducted, but the general public is very interested in learning more about the industry. I think it would be interesting to see what their thoughts were on this and as advocates for agriculture, we could better provide them with the information and experiences they want and need.

    3. Tabitha,
      I hadn’t thought about the agri-tourism population as well. It is certainly a booming industry! I’m curious about what you think regarding the way the “green divide” impacts those involved in agri-tourism verses those in soley production agriculture?

  3. In relation to Table 4 in the JAC evaluation article, I understand why, during the time period that JAC was evaluated, that the consumer was not more heavily studied. From 1990 to 2006, the average consumers disconnect from the farm was growing, but the wave of consumer interest in their food production had not yet begun. However, I was still surprised that there wasn’t at least research with consumers about their perceptions of agriculture from a food science communication perspective, because even between 1990 and 2006 there was an abundance of food and diet-related research that could have affected agricultural markets (food that increases cholesterol, diet fads, etc.).

    I also noticed a gap in populations studied because while urban newspapers themselves were regularly studied, their readership was not. Meanwhile, the subscribers/readers of agricultural publications were studied. If any of these studies were testing the effectiveness of agricultural communication, I do not understand why they wouldn’t study both of those groups.
    I was also surprised that the bulk of research methodology was completed through mail-out surveys. Although I know that the internet has made it significantly easier to gather data for study since 1990 to 2006, I have also learned in undergraduate research classes that mail-out surveys are not one of the best ways to get information. When studying complex communication, I would like to see more in-person or focus group type research to build a better qualitative knowledge base. However, I am also aware that mail-out surveys are a relatively inexpensive way to conduct research, which may speak to the funding availability of agricultural communications research from 1990 to 2006.

    Although I only have a few years of experience as a formal, employed, agricultural communicator, I have noticed the changes the digital age and the green divide have on communication with audiences. In my lifetime, people have shifted from believing everything they see on the internet to being extremely suspicious of everything they see on the internet. With the most in-depth and available information sources in all of history, it is easy to find both sides of any particular argument and be hesitant to believe both of them. So while the realization of the green divide has motivated agriculturalists to increase communication and transparency with non-agriculturalists, the increase in digital communication can reduce the effectiveness of that messaging. Rising above the information clutter as a trustworthy source of agricultural information for the disconnected consumer can be difficult, but through trial and error, practice, and research, agricultural communities can strengthen their skills in this area.
    I am currently finishing my undergraduate degree in science and agricultural journalism at the University of Missouri while beginning work on my master’s degree through this class. I am not opposed to the dual-listing of graduate and undergraduate classes and believe that when used effectively it can further a student’s education in a way that is customized to them. However, I do have many thoughts on the program structure of agricultural communications in higher education.

    As anyone involved in agriculture communication probably knows, the Mizzou science and agricultural journalism program was cut last fall due to low enrollment. Although I have many “lay theories” about why our enrollment was low, including low advertising and promotion efforts from the college and department, one of my theories is that young people looking for a career in agricultural communications believe it should not require the rigorous courses the MU science and agricultural journalism program includes.

    To explain, our degree program places students in the same prerequisite classes that all MU Journalism majors take, including news writing, multimedia journalism, and journalism ethics courses. From there, ag journalism students choose an emphasis area in the journalism school, with options ranging from strategic communications and advertising to broadcast or magazine journalism. In addition to the rigorous journalism training, ag journalism students take half of their coursework in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (CAFNR), and can diversify that coursework however they see fit, from animal sciences to agricultural economics. The science and agricultural journalism program is NOT, as many programs mentioned in the article, housed in the journalism school; the degree is housed in CAFNR, and thus students benefit from being in a college that has an extensive network in the industry they wish to serve.

    This is not exactly a typical agricultural communications program model. However, it does teach students in the way that Irani and Doerfert suggest: as comprehensive and well-rounded journalists, media specialists, and public relationists, with a specific interest in and knowledge of agriculture. I believe I have received an excellent agricultural communications education and will graduate with the hard and soft skills needed to further the industry as a communications professional. However, the lack of standardization amongst ag communications programs is an issue.

    As I stated earlier, I believe many students were deterred from our program because they thought an ag communications education should be easier. In many places, it is. The program is housed completely in the university’s ag school and teaches farm kids to communicate better about the farm without any of the difficulties of learning hands-on journalistic skills. However, I believe that kind of coursework can produce ag communicators who will have difficulty learning the journalistic skills while working in industry or will encounter other difficulties in speaking to consumers removed from agriculture. I believe that coursework that requires ag communications students to learn hard skills, work with professors and students outside the college of agriculture, and choose a journalistic or public relations emphasis can build more well rounded agricultural communicators with an abundance of experience working with journalists and public relationists outside of the agriculture sector.
    Although an entirely standardized curriculum across all agricultural communications programs could have problems of its own, including a lack of diversity in messaging or approach and thus less success, I do believe that requiring all students to learn hard journalistic or public relations skills could improve the effectiveness of the ag communications industry as a whole.
    Multi-disciplinary instructional efforts, as shown in Figure 1, could also improve the agricultural communications industry through further specialization and expertise on certain issues, while also learning from others. However, as I mentioned before, well-rounded communicators have a variety of experiences and knowledge, and over-specialization, even in a team, can sometimes decrease the effectiveness of communication.

  4. I would have to agree with Tabitha on why the University of Florida was so represented compared to the other Universities. Is it because of the willingness of individuals to participate or just the awareness of the JAC. This would be interesting to have more information on this aspect of the research.

    Strategic communications where the most importance is placed is something I would agree with. People are always looking for a way to support their ideas or argument of a topic. They find it very easy to look away from something that disagrees with them. As someone that works in a public school system I see this a lot within teachers and even the parents. They are all for something that they agree with but if it is something that they don’t agree with the support and the arguments begin to start.

    My undergraduate was in Agriculture Education and I felt that it prepared me for the work field quite well. In our career we have to be knowledgable in so many areas to be able to teach that is the hardest part to prepare everyone for depending on the type of teaching job they get. For example in my first job I taught all subjects and that was the challenge is some of the topic areas I wasn’t as comfortable with because I didn’t spend as much time in them. My new job I get to focus on my strengths and that makes me feel prepared for my job everyday. I think to help increase the level of preparedness I would allow students to get more classes of each topic area so we can’t just focus on our comfort zones.

  5. In relation to Table 4 in the JAC evaluation article, I understand why, during the time period that JAC was evaluated, that the consumer was not more heavily studied. From 1990 to 2006, the average consumers disconnect from the farm was growing, but the wave of consumer interest in their food production had not yet begun. However, I was still surprised that there wasn’t at least research with consumers about their perceptions of agriculture from a food science communication perspective, because even between 1990 and 2006 there was an abundance of food and diet-related research that could have affected agricultural markets (food that increases cholesterol, diet fads, etc.).

    I also noticed a gap in populations studied because while urban newspapers themselves were regularly studied, their readership was not. Meanwhile, the subscribers/readers of agricultural publications were studied. If any of these studies were testing the effectiveness of agricultural communication, I do not understand why they wouldn’t study both of those groups.
    I was also surprised that the bulk of research methodology was completed through mail-out surveys. Although I know that the internet has made it significantly easier to gather data for study since 1990 to 2006, I have also learned in undergraduate research classes that mail-out surveys are not one of the best ways to get information. When studying complex communication, I would like to see more in-person or focus group type research to build a better qualitative knowledge base. However, I am also aware that mail-out surveys are a relatively inexpensive way to conduct research, which may speak to the funding availability of agricultural communications research from 1990 to 2006.

    Although I only have a few years of experience as a formal, employed, agricultural communicator, I have noticed the changes the digital age and the green divide have on communication with audiences. In my lifetime, people have shifted from believing everything they see on the internet to being extremely suspicious of everything they see on the internet. With the most in-depth and available information sources in all of history, it is easy to find both sides of any particular argument and be hesitant to believe both of them. So while the realization of the green divide has motivated agriculturalists to increase communication and transparency with non-agriculturalists, the increase in digital communication can reduce the effectiveness of that messaging. Rising above the information clutter as a trustworthy source of agricultural information for the disconnected consumer can be difficult, but through trial and error, practice, and research, agricultural communities can strengthen their skills in this area.
    I am currently finishing my undergraduate degree in science and agricultural journalism at the University of Missouri while beginning work on my master’s degree through this class. I am not opposed to the dual-listing of graduate and undergraduate classes and believe that when used effectively it can further a student’s education in a way that is customized to them. However, I do have many thoughts on the program structure of agricultural communications in higher education.

    As anyone involved in agriculture communication probably knows, the Mizzou science and agricultural journalism program was cut last fall due to low enrollment. Although I have many “lay theories” about why our enrollment was low, including low advertising and promotion efforts from the college and department, one of my theories is that young people looking for a career in agricultural communications believe it should not require the rigorous courses the MU science and agricultural journalism program includes.

    To explain, our degree program places students in the same prerequisite classes that all MU Journalism majors take, including news writing, multimedia journalism, and journalism ethics courses. From there, ag journalism students choose an emphasis area in the journalism school, with options ranging from strategic communications and advertising to broadcast or magazine journalism. In addition to the rigorous journalism training, ag journalism students take half of their coursework in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (CAFNR), and can diversify that coursework however they see fit, from animal sciences to agricultural economics. The science and agricultural journalism program is NOT, as many programs mentioned in the article, housed in the journalism school; the degree is housed in CAFNR, and thus students benefit from being in a college that has an extensive network in the industry they wish to serve.

    This is not exactly a typical agricultural communications program model. However, it does teach students in the way that Irani and Doerfert suggest: as comprehensive and well-rounded journalists, media specialists, and public relationists, with a specific interest in and knowledge of agriculture. I believe I have received an excellent agricultural communications education and will graduate with the hard and soft skills needed to further the industry as a communications professional. However, the lack of standardization amongst ag communications programs is an issue.

    As I stated earlier, I believe many students were deterred from our program because they thought an ag communications education should be easier. In many places, it is. The program is housed completely in the university’s ag school and teaches farm kids to communicate better about the farm without any of the difficulties of learning hands-on journalistic skills. However, I believe that kind of coursework can produce ag communicators who will have difficulty learning the journalistic skills while working in industry or will encounter other difficulties in speaking to consumers removed from agriculture. I believe that coursework that requires ag communications students to learn hard skills, work with professors and students outside the college of agriculture, and choose a journalistic or public relations emphasis can build more well rounded agricultural communicators with an abundance of experience working with journalists and public relationists outside of the agriculture sector.

    Although an entirely standardized curriculum across all agricultural communications programs could have problems of its own, including a lack of diversity in messaging or approach and thus less success, I do believe that requiring all students to learn hard journalistic or public relations skills could improve the effectiveness of the ag communications industry as a whole.
    Multi-disciplinary instructional efforts, as shown in Figure 1, could also improve the agricultural communications industry through further specialization and expertise on certain issues, while also learning from others. However, as I mentioned before, well-rounded communicators have a variety of experiences and knowledge, and over-specialization, even in a team, can sometimes decrease the effectiveness of communication.

  6. In relation to Table 4 in the JAC evaluation article, I understand why, during the time period that JAC was evaluated, that the consumer was not more heavily studied. From 1990 to 2006, the average consumers disconnect from the farm was growing, but the wave of consumer interest in their food production had not yet begun. However, I was still surprised that there wasn’t at least research with consumers about their perceptions of agriculture from a food science communication perspective, because even between 1990 and 2006 there was an abundance of food and diet-related research that could have affected agricultural markets (food that increases cholesterol, diet fads, etc.).
    I also noticed a gap in populations studied because while urban newspapers themselves were regularly studied, their readership was not. Meanwhile, the subscribers/readers of agricultural publications were studied. If any of these studies were testing the effectiveness of agricultural communication, I do not understand why they wouldn’t study both of those groups.
    I was also surprised that the bulk of research methodology was completed through mail-out surveys. Although I know that the internet has made it significantly easier to gather data for study since 1990 to 2006, I have also learned in undergraduate research classes that mail-out surveys are not one of the best ways to get information. When studying complex communication, I would like to see more in-person or focus group type research to build a better qualitative knowledge base. However, I am also aware that mail-out surveys are a relatively inexpensive way to conduct research, which may speak to the funding availability of agricultural communications research from 1990 to 2006.

    Although I only have a few years of experience as a formal, employed, agricultural communicator, I have noticed the changes the digital age and the green divide have on communication with audiences. In my lifetime, people have shifted from believing everything they see on the internet to being extremely suspicious of everything they see on the internet. With the most in-depth and available information sources in all of history, it is easy to find both sides of any particular argument and be hesitant to believe both of them. So while the realization of the green divide has motivated agriculturalists to increase communication and transparency with non-agriculturalists, the increase in digital communication can reduce the effectiveness of that messaging. Rising above the information clutter as a trustworthy source of agricultural information for the disconnected consumer can be difficult, but through trial and error, practice, and research, agricultural communities can strengthen their skills in this area.
    I am currently finishing my undergraduate degree in science and agricultural journalism at the University of Missouri while beginning work on my master’s degree through this class. I am not opposed to the dual-listing of graduate and undergraduate classes and believe that when used effectively it can further a student’s education in a way that is customized to them. However, I do have many thoughts on the program structure of agricultural communications in higher education.
    As anyone involved in agriculture communication probably knows, the Mizzou science and agricultural journalism program was cut last fall due to low enrollment. Although I have many “lay theories” about why our enrollment was low, including low advertising and promotion efforts from the college and department, one of my theories is that young people looking for a career in agricultural communications believe it should not require the rigorous courses the MU science and agricultural journalism program includes.

    To explain, our degree program places students in the same prerequisite classes that all MU Journalism majors take, including news writing, multimedia journalism, and journalism ethics courses. From there, ag journalism students choose an emphasis area in the journalism school, with options ranging from strategic communications and advertising to broadcast or magazine journalism. In addition to the rigorous journalism training, ag journalism students take half of their coursework in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (CAFNR), and can diversify that coursework however they see fit, from animal sciences to agricultural economics. The science and agricultural journalism program is NOT, as many programs mentioned in the article, housed in the journalism school; the degree is housed in CAFNR, and thus students benefit from being in a college that has an extensive network in the industry they wish to serve.

    This is not exactly a typical agricultural communications program model. However, it does teach students in the way that Irani and Doerfert suggest: as comprehensive and well-rounded journalists, media specialists, and public relationists, with a specific interest in and knowledge of agriculture. I believe I have received an excellent agricultural communications education and will graduate with the hard and soft skills needed to further the industry as a communications professional. However, the lack of standardization amongst ag communications programs is an issue.

    As I stated earlier, I believe many students were deterred from our program because they thought an ag communications education should be easier. In many places, it is. The program is housed completely in the university’s ag school and teaches farm kids to communicate better about the farm without any of the difficulties of learning hands-on journalistic skills. However, I believe that kind of coursework can produce ag communicators who will have difficulty learning the journalistic skills while working in industry or will encounter other difficulties in speaking to consumers removed from agriculture. I believe that coursework that requires ag communications students to learn hard skills, work with professors and students outside the college of agriculture, and choose a journalistic or public relations emphasis can build more well rounded agricultural communicators with an abundance of experience working with journalists and public relationists outside of the agriculture sector.
    Although an entirely standardized curriculum across all agricultural communications programs could have problems of its own, including a lack of diversity in messaging or approach and thus less success, I do believe that requiring all students to learn hard journalistic or public relations skills could improve the effectiveness of the ag communications industry as a whole.
    Multi-disciplinary instructional efforts, as shown in Figure 1, could also improve the agricultural communications industry through further specialization and expertise on certain issues, while also learning from others. However, as I mentioned before, well-rounded communicators have a variety of experiences and knowledge, and over-specialization, even in a team, can sometimes decrease the effectiveness of communication.

  7. In relation to Table 4 in the JAC evaluation article, I understand why, during the time period that JAC was evaluated, that the consumer was not more heavily studied. From 1990 to 2006, the average consumers disconnect from the farm was growing, but the wave of consumer interest in their food production had not yet begun. However, I was still surprised that there wasn’t at least research with consumers about their perceptions of agriculture from a food science communication perspective, because even between 1990 and 2006 there was an abundance of food and diet-related research that could have affected agricultural markets (food that increases cholesterol, diet fads, etc.).
    I also noticed a gap in populations studied because while urban newspapers themselves were regularly studied, their readership was not. Meanwhile, the subscribers/readers of agricultural publications were studied. If any of these studies were testing the effectiveness of agricultural communication, I do not understand why they wouldn’t study both of those groups.
    I was also surprised that the bulk of research methodology was completed through mail-out surveys. Although I know that the internet has made it significantly easier to gather data for study since 1990 to 2006, I have also learned in undergraduate research classes that mail-out surveys are not one of the best ways to get information. When studying complex communication, I would like to see more in-person or focus group type research to build a better qualitative knowledge base. However, I am also aware that mail-out surveys are a relatively inexpensive way to conduct research, which may speak to the funding availability of agricultural communications research from 1990 to 2006.

    Although I only have a few years of experience as a formal, employed, agricultural communicator, I have noticed the changes the digital age and the green divide have on communication with audiences. In my lifetime, people have shifted from believing everything they see on the internet to being extremely suspicious of everything they see on the internet. With the most in-depth and available information sources in all of history, it is easy to find both sides of any particular argument and be hesitant to believe both of them. So while the realization of the green divide has motivated agriculturalists to increase communication and transparency with non-agriculturalists, the increase in digital communication can reduce the effectiveness of that messaging. Rising above the information clutter as a trustworthy source of agricultural information for the disconnected consumer can be difficult, but through trial and error, practice, and research, agricultural communities can strengthen their skills in this area.
    I am currently finishing my undergraduate degree in science and agricultural journalism at the University of Missouri while beginning work on my master’s degree through this class. I am not opposed to the dual-listing of graduate and undergraduate classes and believe that when used effectively it can further a student’s education in a way that is customized to them. However, I do have many thoughts on the program structure of agricultural communications in higher education.
    As anyone involved in agriculture communication probably knows, the Mizzou science and agricultural journalism program was cut last fall due to low enrollment. Although I have many “lay theories” about why our enrollment was low, including low advertising and promotion efforts from the college and department, one of my theories is that young people looking for a career in agricultural communications believe it should not require the rigorous courses the MU science and agricultural journalism program includes.

    To explain, our degree program places students in the same prerequisite classes that all MU Journalism majors take, including news writing, multimedia journalism, and journalism ethics courses. From there, ag journalism students choose an emphasis area in the journalism school, with options ranging from strategic communications and advertising to broadcast or magazine journalism. In addition to the rigorous journalism training, ag journalism students take half of their coursework in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (CAFNR), and can diversify that coursework however they see fit, from animal sciences to agricultural economics. The science and agricultural journalism program is NOT, as many programs mentioned in the article, housed in the journalism school; the degree is housed in CAFNR, and thus students benefit from being in a college that has an extensive network in the industry they wish to serve.

    This is not exactly a typical agricultural communications program model. However, it does teach students in the way that Irani and Doerfert suggest: as comprehensive and well-rounded journalists, media specialists, and public relationists, with a specific interest in and knowledge of agriculture. I believe I have received an excellent agricultural communications education and will graduate with the hard and soft skills needed to further the industry as a communications professional. However, the lack of standardization amongst ag communications programs is an issue.

  8. In the article by Naile, Robertson and Cartmell, I was a little surprised by the lack of variety in research subjects. I would like to see more of the general public involved in these studies, and more of the other categories than university staff and faculty. I think the main subjects are covered, but we could go more in-depth with them. I also found it interesting that UF had so many contributors to the journal when compared to other universities. This sparks an interest for me in their program.

    It goes without saying that new technology has drastically changed the way we communicate about agriculture. Even in my short lifetime, communications channels have evolved from email via dial-up and phones on a cord to instant messages from small, cordless, handheld cell phones. The internet has evolved as well, providing a platform for any “expert” to share their “wisdom,” hence the problem we have today with massive amounts of misinformation. At the same time, it’s incredible that we can share our stories with thousands through pictures, short clips and now even live videos. If the population is going to drift so far from the farm, at least we can bring the farm to them at the touch of their fingertips. There are so many opportunities for people to get an inside look at what truly goes on from day to day, but the challenge is directing people to these channels when there are also so many other bad sources of information. It will be interesting to watch how our industry continues to adapt to new technologies and how we handle the ever-growing need for agricultural advocacy.

    My BS is in animal sciences, so I’m coming from a little different background than a lot on here it seems. I found myself agreeing with the Irani and Doerfert article in a lot of cases, but I don’t feel that it is relevant to my undergraduate work. In animal sciences (ASI), we took several standard courses but were allowed more freedom when it came to our preferred species. Since Kansas is primarily a beef state, there are a lot of opportunities for kids particularly interested in beef cattle. We also have 6 (I think) different options to specialize in as part of the ASI degree. I started out in production/management but ended up with a focus in business. I think this differs from agricultural communications because it is such a broad industry. Ag com covers it all, from forests in California to citrus groves in Florida, and everything in between.

    Finally, I think the model of multi-disciplinary instructional efforts is very interesting. It makes a lot of sense to structure programs like this, especially for a degree as broad as agricultural communications and journalism. I think the biggest challenge would be logistics; working with other departments to incorporate this program and figuring out the best program of study for students. I think it might work best to recommend these “teams” as coursework, but not limit students to just those classes. Having the option available would be excellent but forcing it upon students would inhibit their learning and limit the capacity of the ag comm program.

    -Rachel Waggie

    1. Rachel,

      I agree with your thoughts on any “expert” being able to share their “wisdom.” Similar to your other thoughts, I think this topic becomes a double-edged sword. On one hand, this technology allows us to bring the farm right to the homes of the general public. It is an easy platform to utilize while telling the story of agriculture. On the other hand, it allows misinformation to be spread in the same way. One of my least favorite phrases is “fake news.” However, I agree that it is sometimes hard to draw that line. Professional sounding misinformation can easily be mistaken for news and opinions start to cross the line pretty quick. I am interested to see how we, as an ag communication industry, start to better draw those lines and make distinctions between credible sources and those distributing misinformation.

    2. Rachel,
      I completely agree with you about multi-disciplinary instructional efforts. I know that I took a very broad spectrum of agriculture classes for my undergraduate since it was agricultural education and ag communications also encompasses a wide range. I definitely think that it would be beneficial, but the logistics would be extremely hard to work out on the up front end. I like your idea of having it as coursework in the classes!

    3. Rachel,
      My undergrad was also animal science, I feel like we’ll be able to share a lot of similar perspective throughout the semester because of this! I completely understand what you’re saying when it comes to the way AnSci programs are set up. I felt that being able to cater my degree towards my interest was extremely valuable and I can see why it would be important in AgComm as well! Someone might have an interest in policy or marketing, or maybe it’s photography or graphic design. Because of this I feel it’s important to have a variety of options within a program for students to thrive. Obviously they can’t all be offered at one institution, but isn’t that why we are all in this particular class online?

  9. I thought the research presented by Naile, Robertson and Cartmell was interesting. I would have liked to see high school students included. I think a lot of ag communications interest is beginning earlier in education, so involving younger audiences would have provided a different view. High school educators would add to this viewpoint. I also agree adding in the general public would be essential if repeating this study today.

    I think there could have been a little more depth to the study. Incorporating which theories were utilized, as Dr. Baker mentioned above, would definitely help with this. I also thought it would be interesting to see the methods cross-tabulated with the frameworks more in-depth instead of the brief summary we were provided with.

    I really enjoyed the Irani and Doerfert article and agreed with a lot of the ideas mentioned. My interest area at the Missouri School of Journalism was strategic communications, so I appreciate the mention of this field in the article. I think the importance of strategic communications is directly tied to the green divide. As the cliche states, there is absolutely a growing disconnect between those involved in agriculture and the general public. With this disconnect comes a need for ag communicators to be more meaningful and strategic with every piece of communications presented. Aside from those in straight journalistic news, I believe everyone in ag communications is in the business of strategic communications because of the lean toward advocacy the field is starting to portray.

    I have mixed opinions on the lack of standardization in ag communications education. I think part of this divide comes from the various backgrounds students bring to the table and the needs of different programs throughout the country. The background agricultural knowledge I need to practice ag communications in Missouri may very from that of someone looking to practice in Kansas. However, I agree that the standardization should come in on the communication skills taught.

    I dual enrolled as an undergraduate student in graduate classes. I don’t think that this system adds to the lack of standardization. I think the disconnect is coming from each program’s diversity, rather than the stage of life an individual is going through said program.

    Figure 1 was particularly interesting to me. I think a benefit of transdisciplinary response teams would be the collaboration of skills. However, a challenge would be for each of the positions to develop any sort of depth. If an ag communicator working in food science doesn’t need to know a lot about food science and is just taught about communications, there wouldn’t be much depth to their position. They would simply try to apply their communications skills to regurgitate someone else’s food science knowledge.

    1. Brandelyn,

      I found your last comment about Figure 1 very insightful and I agree with you. While it would be great to be able to collaborate in this manner, the likelihood of specialization or depth would be hard to achieve with this structure.

      I also agree about each program being diverse. If every program were to be even across the board, then there would be a lot lacking with the programs because it would almost limit what could be taught. I would almost say that it would be a better idea to standardize ag education at the elementary/middle/high school level and then let it be diverse throughout continuing education programs. If we taught ag the same way across the country the same way that math is taught, we may help a lot of that divide.

  10. Naile, Robertson, and Cartmell presented an interesting topic, however I don’t think the population used for the study was diverse enough. I feel as though it should have included a variety of student, from high school to graduate college, as well as a variety of faculty and staff, both high school and higher ed. Perhaps then they could have compared this study to one involving the general public? (Granted I am not the one conducting the research and that would be quite the undertaking for a singular study, but none the less the results would have been interesting!)

    Also, the way we communicate (primarily via technology) is constantly changing the way we carry out strategic communication. The green divide is being met head on with buzz words like authentic and transparent, while on the other hand “negative” buzz words like GMO or factory farming are skewing the way the public sees what agriculturalists are sharing. Furthermore, the ability to easily disengage or turn a blind eye is increasing the gap between producers and consumers.

    Having studied animal science for my undergrad we had courses laid out at the foundation of our degree. After the completion of the general courses we were able to cater our degree toward our interest and desired occupations (I had an emphasis in cattle production). However, I also had a minor in general communications. Again, there were basic classes at the foundation of their program (intro to journalism, ethics, etc) and from there you could choose from a multitude of courses to cater towards your future endeavors. I feel as though this is an ideal model, especially related to agricultural communications as it is such a diverse field. This figure presented is a great foundation to build a multifaceted degree upon, but would be very difficult to truly carry out.

  11. The Naile, Robertson, and Cartmell was interesting, but I feel like it was lacking information from some populations. I would have liked to see more of the general public be included and I wonder what all the “Not clearly defined” consisted of. Most of the populations surveyed were involved in academia already, so I think that might not have been the most useful sources. I also would have liked to see FFA or 4-H members be incorporated somehow since it’s important to engage those younger audiences to keep them involved in agriculture.

    Technology has had a very big impact on the agriculture industry. New technologies have allowed producers to become more efficient in their work and I think research and data is much more available to producers than it was 15+ years ago. Social media is a tool that we use a lot in my position with the Kansas Department of Agriculture and infographics have been a great tool to engage the general public in more of the work we do.

    I studied Animal Science for my undergrad with a minor in Communications. I think agriculture is so diverse with all the different segments in the industry, it would difficult to standardize the program. I think it would be important for the communications side of the program to be standardized because those involved in advocating for agriculture should be on the same page and work together to deliver their messages. However, I think it would be detrimental to the agriculture production side of a program to be standardized because students wouldn’t have the opportunities to explore the industry as a whole and find their niche.

  12. In the article Examining JAC by Naile, Robertson and Cartmell, there was very little subjects that were researched. Although the focused on certain target groups I would like them to concentrate more on the general public in there research. Also I found that the University of Florida was a main contributor compared to other universities nationwide.

    Many people today can go on the internet and at a click of a button have information. Some of the information they read may change there viewpoint or turn them away on certain topics or issues. Our jobs as agriculture communicators are being responsible for the communication of agriculture by relating information to variety of audiences, explaining new trends in ag industry, and providing insight and recommendations.

    As an agriculture communication major I’ve seen the lack of knowledge between the consumer and agriculture. Kids come to school not knowing were there food is coming from. Many today think it just comes from the grocery store, but it’s way more than that. In California we have programs like Farm Day and Ag in the Classroom were students can spend a day in farm type setting and learn there food from farm to table.

    The agriculture communications program at Fresno State was an awesome program we got to take our regular agriculture classes, but we took our communications courses through the media, communication, and journalism department. This was the only downfall to the program because we didn’t have any agriculture communications courses at all so we couldn’t see how communication practices or theories were used in the agriculture industry. Since starting my masters degree at Oklahoma State University I’ve been able to take agriculture communications courses.

    1. Blaire,

      Farm Day and Ag in the Classroom are programs that also happen in Indiana and Missouri. These are great programs and younger children seem to really enjoy them.

      I can understand how taking your communications classes outside of your department could be difficult. It would be nice if you did not have to infer how to apply the theories of communications into agriculture on your own. Agriculture Communication is such a unique field that any school who claims to have it as a major or minor should really have true agriculture communications classes to offer instead of forcing students to puzzle piece their curriculum together.

  13. In the Irani & Doerfert article, there were several interesting points. I had not heard the “green divide” term and thing that is a very good way of defining that disconnect. I think that agricultural educators always made the comment about a large majority of the population being “uneducated” and never defined it beyond that. The “green divide” is a much more politically correct way of referring to this disconnect, especially when everyone seems to get offended at random stuff these days. Another point in that article was about the efforts of agricultural education. I graduated with my B.S. in Animal Science and there was no 100% way to standardize the program. Every state has a different specialty in agriculture. A beef production class/program in Florida is not going to be the same as the program that would be taught in Kansas because they have such different production practices. This same idea could relate to ag education/communication curriculum based on the different states and their specialty in agriculture.

    In the Naile, Robertson, Cartmell article, I found the JAC process interesting in the way they talked about the reasons for peer review. This automatically made me think about all of the untruthful information that gets shared through the internet and social media and how it is all opinion based. Unfortunately, that information is more believable than any study put out there by ag educators because they’re “deceitful” and feeding people a bunch of lies. It may be beneficial to start teaching or emphasizing the sources of reliable information. For any of the teachers in this course, do they still teach that in schools or has that gone by the wayside? I remember back in middle school getting lectured about using Wikipedia as a source because it wasn’t credible enough. I wonder if that would help some of this disconnect or if some people are really just that naïve and will believe a blog post over a research based article. For the study itself, it would have been more beneficial for them to include a larger and more diverse sample. I found it to be a bit too narrow for the subject in question.

  14. Besides just using the general public as a population focus area, I would have liked to have seen specific sectors of consumers in the investigated populations. Using the “general public” may be too broad of a sample group. What if these researchers would have evaluated populations based on socioeconomical status or culture? These are areas of peoples’ lives that impact their reaction to the agriculture industry.

    I agree with the comment in the Further Research section of this article where it says that the number of pages devoted to research versus non-research articles was not evaluated. By understanding this, we would have a better indicator of bias between opinion and research pieces that make it through the peer-review process.

    Audiences today would prefer to get their information in quick, easy to understand bursts. These bursts can be in almost any form. Some examples include billboards, social media posts, short news reports, tweets, short radio stories, etc. Even when I am teaching it is hard to keep students attention for more than 5 minutes unless I can get them to openly discuss ideas with me. The traditional ways of lecturing and reading long excerpts are being phased out.

    I ultimately graduated with an undergraduate degree in Animal Science, but I did spend many of my undergrad years in the College of Pharmacy. In Animal Science and Pharmacy my course schedule was very standardized. I had a check list of courses I needed to finish to get my degree with little room for outside electives, and most of the time it was highly suggested that I fulfill my electives with additional courses within my department. This is why my background is heavily structured with organic chemistry and biochemistry as its foundation.

    Multi-disciplinary instructional efforts may be a great idea. AS the article states, we are not going to solve all of the world problems within our own discipline This holds true for every discipline. The only way to effectively come up with any kind of solution is to have people on a team who know the science to fix the issue at hand and to have the people who know how to convince everyone outside of the core group that the plan is the best solution and that it will work. The world benefits from interdisciplinary instruction because it allows many people to look at an issue and come at it from different angles and different thought process. But, this is also a challenge. People have become so used to working with others that think and process the same way they do that it can be hard to accept other methodologies and opinions.

  15. The first step, is to determine clearly what it is going to be measured, a key activity determinant to the success of the research. Clarity can be achieved by using aids such as theory and also by determining the level or specificity or generality.
    Even if there is not much theory or available information, the researcher must be capable of displaying its own concepts and ideas at the very beginning of the investigation, so that there is a usable framework or model that will serve as a guide to develop the scale to be used.
    The construction of theories by identifying key elements to make statements which will make them more credible. The author favored the creation of scientific theories in a way that they could be tested. A theory that turns to be false is falsified, but if turns to be true, then it becomes a more credible theory. Social scientific “inference” starts with more “theoretical” statements about the connection of a particular phenomenon with another, thus generating empirical statements (by concept definition).
    The construction of different alternatives for a theory, increases efficiency by creating an experiment. Causal theories, can be reinforced by creating different kinds of observations.
    The researcher must generate a large pool of “good” items that could eventually be included in the scale for measurement. Candidate items to the scale, must be an manifestation of its purpose. These should be selected or developed with the specific measurement goal in mind and should make up for a consistent scale, reproducing the latent variable at the very core.
    The use of multiple items should be favored over individual items to make the test more reliable, however, it is important to note, that each item must be sensitive to the true score of the latent variable and reproduce the undelaying objective of the scale. Even if the items are related or belong to the same category, it is not guarantee, that they will have the same underlying latent variable.

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