Communication in Ag: Beyond Semicolons and APA Citations

When we first arrived at GSA, we were faced with many new things: new places, new people, new routines, new freedoms, new responsibilities, new ideas, new experiences. It was clear from the beginning—GSA is a place of opportunity for learning and growth. 

One important focus of GSA is to develop skills in agriculture communication. To improve our communication skills, we have attended lectures about both academic writing and storytelling, and we have tried our hand at it with research papers and blog posts. However, our communication education has gone deeper than lessons about semicolons, neural coupling, and APA citations; with each lecture, activity, and discussion, different styles of agricultural communication are modeled to us through the teaching styles of our various professors.

Agricultural sciences professor Tim Durham made his lessons on soil applicable and relevant through both sharing his own experiences on his family farm as well as involving us in conducting our own web soil surveys of places that are personally significant to us.

Agriculture leadership professors Jama Coartney and Nichole Nunoo brought their communications lectures alive with their joy, personality, and collaboration. The way they related to the students and each other made the class enjoyable and interesting.

Jama Coartney and Nicole Nunoo review a writing activity.

Genomics professor David Haak took us to see the equipment that he uses for his own research, including mass spectrometers and a variety of different drones. By giving us a glimpse of graduate- and faculty-level research, he encouraged us to seek out research opportunities, even during our high school and undergraduate years.

Economics professor Mike Ellerbrock intrigued and involved the entire class in a thought-provoking discussion about practical and theoretical economics that made even “the dismal science”—a label he shared with sighs—fascinating and very applicable to our own lives and to the world.

Overall, the entire experience of GSA is shaping us into better science communicators. In addition to all that we are learning through the curriculum, every professor is a living example of what it means to convey information about agriculture in an effective and engaging manner. I have learned that scientific communication is more than the mere transfer of facts and concepts from one brain to another; rather, it is the art of lighting a spark that ignites the receiving mind to grow in its own comprehension of and curiosity about this wonderful world we live in.


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