College Aggies Online competition prepares new crop of agvocates

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The Animal Agriculture Alliance is proud to announce that the number of participants in its College Aggies Online (CAO) scholarship competition has grown from 350 to 577 students. In 2009, the Alliance partnered with the American National CattleWomen, Inc. to launch CAO and help college students become more confident advocates for the agriculture industry.  

“We are thrilled that in the program’s second year, the number of participants has almost doubled,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance Executive Vice President. “It’s very exciting to see the passion for promoting agriculture expressed by the students.”

College students can interact on the CAO network by posting blogs, photos and videos related to agriculture and engage in online outreach via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. CAO members earn points for each blog, photo and video they post and for other activities. Students are encouraged to share what they learn on CAO with their peers and community.

Jessie McClellan, a student at Casper College in Wyoming, currently holds the high individual score with 480 points. She originally became involved in the program to learn more about current events in agriculture.

“Although I feel I am heavily involved in agriculture, I didn’t feel that I knew very much outside of my own experiences,” said McClellan. “Once I got started I just couldn’t stop! I am now aware of some of the many challenges agriculture faces. Everything we do can be traced back to agriculture, and the general public needs to know and appreciate this. I want to help ensure that the importance of agriculture is known, and the CAO program is the perfect place to start.”

Rebecca Hannam of the University of Guelph is currently the runner-up in the contest with 450 points. Following Hannam in third position with 445 points is Jacob Nyhuis, an Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College student. Casper College tops the group standings with 1,995 points, with Penn State University in second position with 1,815 points, and Georgia's Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College sitting third with 1,325 points.

The winners of this year’s contest will be announced April 1, 2011. The first and second place teams and individuals will receive scholarships. One representative of the high-scoring team will earn a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the Alliance’s annual Stakeholders Summit, a unique opportunity to network with food industry leaders. Western Kentucky University's Block and Bridle club took home top honors in the inaugural competition.

“Utilizing social media comes natural to college students,” said Johnson Smith. “College Aggies Online taps into those skills by providing resources and initiatives to get students engaged in agricultural advocacy. We hope CAO will provide training to encourage them to be advocates for life.”

The Alliance urges college students to continue their involvement in the CAO program and to encourage their peers to also share agricultural education resources. Interested students are encouraged to sign up at http://aggiesonline.ning.com.

Source: Animal Agriculture Alliance



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