ARLINGTON, Va. — It’s time for college students to step up and share their passion for agriculture and tell their story.
This fall, for the seventh consecutive year, the Animal Agriculture Alliance will launch its annual College Aggies Online Scholarship Program (CAO) to help college students with a passion for agriculture become confident, positive and proactive communicators.
Over the years, the program has continued to evolve to address new challenges and emerging social media platforms.
“Engaging with diverse audiences is critical to bridging the communication gap between farm and fork,” said Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith. “We’re excited to offer this opportunity for students to develop the skills necessary to help their peers better understand modern animal agriculture. With new challenges and mentors, this year’s CAO competition is shaping up to be the best one yet.”
The nine-week competitive program will prepare students to become lifelong advocates of the agriculture industry. In addition to gaining valuable skills, the top three clubs and individuals will receive scholarships. The top three individuals will earn $2,500, $1,000 and $500 in scholarship awards, respectively. The top three clubs will be awarded $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 prizes.
The top three individuals and a representative from each of the top clubs will also receive an all expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the Animal Agriculture Alliance annual Stakeholder’s Summit. Mini-scholarships and monetary prizes will be awarded throughout the program for certain assignments and contests.
Students receive weekly assignments ranging from writing a blog post, creating an infographic, attending webinars hosted by industry experts and more. Participants earn points by posting content promoting and explaining agriculture on social media.
Student organizations can also participate as a group and complete club challenges. These challenges include holding an “Ag Day” on campus, teaching at local elementary schools, handing out candy wrapped with meat myths and facts, and many more. The clubs receive points for each challenge they complete.
The alliance has recruited a panel of industry experts and influential bloggers to serve as program mentors. Mentors will advise students throughout the program and serve as a resource to help the students develop their own personal brand and produce effective and engaging content. Students will have the opportunity to test out their skills and practice answering questions about some of the hot topics in agriculture today. Mentors will oversee the discussions and aid in answering those tough questions.
In 2014, approximately 1,300 students from more than 58 universities participated in CAO. The alliance hopes to increase participation even further this year by developing a CAO Ambassadors program. A representative from each college and university can sign up to be a 2015 ambassador.
Ambassadors promote the College Aggies program on their campus and recruit individuals and clubs. The representative that recruits the most people will receive $500.
To learn more about the competition and how to sign up as a competitor or an ambassador, visit the alliance website at www.animalagalliance.org.