Nation's ag communicators focus on Purdue
By Janelle Thompson
The lives of Purdue Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) members were suddenly filled with lots of work and excitement as they prepared to host a national conference for National ACT (NACT) members from across the continent in early March 2007.
It all began one year earlier at the NACT conference in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, when the 11 attending members asked themselves, "Can we do this?" After that, the team and other club members, dedicated long hours to put together a weekend agricultural communication and leadership development experience for other ACT chapters from all over the United States and Canada to showcase the best of the Midwest.
"We wanted to get Purdue ACT's name out there and we wanted other chapters in the U.S. to know that Purdue ACT was a leading chapter in the organization," said Tristan Emery, a senior agricultural communication major from Mount Vernon, Ind., and member of the conference planning committee. Purdue ACT is a growing organization with a lot of talented people, and hosting this event was a chance for the members to show its talents, Emery said. Not only did members work to show the nation what they were capable of, they were excited to say they were a part of making the conference happen.
NACT's annual conference helps agricultural communication students from around the country by providing information about different areas of their profession. Various speakers representing different specialties helped attendees improve professional skills such as writing, editing and interviewing techniques.
In addition to taking care of all of these tasks, Purdue club members felt other pressures. "You feel the need to do everything well because you are promoting Purdue ACT, Purdue Agriculture and Purdue in general," said Natalie Federer, advisor of the Purdue ACT chapter.
There was plenty of excitement surrounding the NACT conference at Purdue. Not only was Purdue home to the NACT conference, they also are the chapter the NACT national president calls home. Ashley Woodward, a senior agricultural communication major from Noblesville, Ind. is the first from Purdue Agriculture to lead a national student organization.
But the excitement was not contained to Purdue. Other ACT chapters looked forward to other events. The two-day conference was packed with professional activities and other fun events designed to develop the professional skills of those attending.
"We tried to get speakers from all aspects of the industry such as a livestock magazine, agriculture broadcaster, public relations, the Indiana Farm Bureau and the Indiana Department of Agriculture. We also have a leadership workshop. We wanted to incorporate as much as we could because every member is interested in something else," Woodward said.
Federer said one important conference event was a panel discussion about how to get and keep a job. "This is more important today than ever," she said.
As for the fun stuff, that included trips to downtown Indianapolis and a tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The conference also was a chance for agricultural communication majors to meet faculty from other schools. That was especially valuable for students considering graduate school, said Federer. Agricultural communication majors are increasing at Purdue. ACT members said they hoped that hosting the conference did a lot to promote their major and its career opportunities.
"When the attendees leave the conference I hope they feel that it benefited them in some way. I want them to feel like they were able to meet with other ACT members. I want them to learn about Indiana agriculture and have a good time doing it," said Woodward.
What will Purdue ACT members take away from this experience? Woodward and others said the memories of the planning process, the great experience and the pride in taking part in a national event are all important. "I will be proud to walk into a job interview and say, 'I've done this,'" Woodward said, and most Purdue ACT members agree.