The Animal Agriculture Alliance has launched “College Aggies Online,” a new program aimed at helping today’s college students become confident advocates for agriculture.

“We are looking forward to providing the tools that young agriculturists need to communicate effectively with the public,” says Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance executive vice president.

College Aggies Online is a joint venture of the Alliance and American National CattleWomen. It will connect college students who are interested in promoting agriculture by sharing their stories. Participants will receive training and instructions from industry professionals and have access to a private forum (accessible at aggiesonline.ning.com) to post information about current and emerging issues facing farmers and ranchers.

The online community will provide resources on key issues to help students utilize tools such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to share agriculture’s story with the public. “Social networking Web sites offer an effective platform to reach large audiences who do not have farm backgrounds,” Johnson Smith says.

A competition of sorts will be set up where university clubs and individual students can vie for rewards. The first competition will conclude in April 2010. After final point counts are tallied, the winning club will receive a $750 scholarship, national recognition and a trip for a representative to the Alliance’s annual Stakeholders Summit. Additional recognition and prizes will be awarded to the runner-up in the club competition and to the two top-placing individual competitors.

Agriculture-related clubs from all universities with an agricultural academic program are invited to sign up. Each member will receive an account to customize his or her homepage and upload information. Student groups will earn points by posting blogs, photos and videos. and by participating in online outreach activities.

“College students who participate in the program will do more than just build their resume — they will help ensure the future of America’s agriculture industry by sharing accurate information about modern farming and ranching,” Johnson Smith says. 

Interested collegiate clubs or departments should contact Krissa Thom at KThom@animalagalliance.org or (703) 562-1410 for more information. 

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