Thanks to four generous sponsors, the Animal Agriculture Alliance's fourth annual College Aggies Online (CAO) agriculture advocacy scholarship program, will award larger scholarships and include additional opportunities to earn cash prizes throughout the competition. The program, set to begin January 14, 2013, helps undergraduate students with a passion for agriculture become confident and professional advocates for the industry.
The scholarship program's sponsors include the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, the National Pork Board, Drive Magazine, and the program's newest sponsor, Lallemand Animal Nutrition.
"Our gratitude to the sponsors of this program is immeasurable," said Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith. "Their generosity demonstrates that the industry recognizes the importance of training the next generation of farmers and ranchers to be skilled communicators who want to share their stories with the American public."
Last year, approximately 750 students representing more than 50 universities participated in the CAO. On the program's private forum, accessible at www.collegeaggiesonline.com, students posted photos, responded to blogs and completed their "aggie homework" in order to earn points for themselves and their collegiate clubs.
Students with an interest in agriculture (including those who are involved in agriculture-related clubs at any college or university) are encouraged to sign up at www.collegeaggiesonline.com. Students will earn points by participating in a webinar, uploading photos, writing blog posts, and participating in challenges outside of the network. Students are also encouraged to write opinion pieces, and host agriculture advocacy events at their school to earn more points for their club. The Alliance provides resources, including a "Meet Your Meat" brochure, as well as a social media resource guide, for assistance in planning an activity on campus.
"The students that are participating in this program are already passionate about agriculture," stated Johnson Smith. "We're just giving them the tools and the impetus for sharing that passion with the community at large."
The final points will be tallied in April 2013 and the club with the most points will receive a $5,000.000 scholarship, national recognition and a trip for one representative to Washington, D.C. for the Alliance's annual Stakeholders Summit. Scholarships and recognition will also be awarded to the runner-up in the club as well as to the two top-placing individuals.
Last year, Casper College Agriculture Club took home top honors and was represented by Kaycee Carpenter, Trinity Holland, and Jessie McClellan at the Summit.
To learn more about the competition, visit the CAO Facebook page. Interested collegiate clubs or departments can also contact Krissa Welshans, Project Coordinator, at Krissa.G.Thom@gmail.com. Industry stakeholders interested in program sponsorship opportunities should contact Krissa or visit the Alliance's website for more information.