Ashley Fry Prepares for Career in Higher Education

March 6, 2012 under CANR News

As an undergraduate at the University of Delaware, Ashley Fry said that she wanted to study statistics in the Department of Food and Resource Economics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) because of the plethora of career opportunities it would provide.

Now, as a master’s student studying counseling in higher education in the College of Education and Human Development and working as a graduate assistant in the CANR Office of Academic Programs and Student Services, Fry said that she has her career choice set on working in higher education.

Fry, who graduated in 2010 and also minored in math and business administration, said she hadn’t figured out what she wanted to do with her future until her senior year as an undergraduate, and that the activities in which she participated outside of the classroom fostered her interest in working in higher education.

“I was really involved on-campus as an undergraduate student,” said Fry, who worked in the Admissions office, as a Blue Hen Ambassador tour guide, as a student admissions officer during her senior year, as a new student orientation leader for two summers, and as an Ag Ambassador.

Convinced that she wanted to make a career in higher education, Fry started looking into graduate programs that were related to the field.

She credits Kimberly Yackoski, assistant dean of student services in CANR, and Latoya Watson, undergraduate services coordinator in CANR, for guiding her to graduate school for studies in university administration.

Yackoski suggested that Fry do a discovery learning experience—a requirement for all undergraduate students—in her office.

The experience went so well that Yackoski asked Fry if she would be interested in continuing in the office as a graduate assistant.

“Ashley epitomizes the perfect colleague,” said Yackoski.  “She’s got an amazing work ethic, is forward thinking, and thoughtfully juggles all the roles we play in the office each and every day.”

Said Fry, “I got really lucky that I got to essentially blend my new experiences in my grad program and apply them to the office here, in the college that I had already had such a strong feeling for.”

Talking about her day-to-day routine, Fry said that her main role in the CANR office is that of academic advisement and support. Working in the office has taught her to balance a lot of different projects at the same time, something that she relishes. “On any given day, I could be meeting with a student, I could be in a meeting with people from this office (CANR) or other offices around campus, I could be doing a presentation, or I could be sitting here answering emails.”

Fry said one of her goals in the office is to strengthen the partnership between CANR and the University’s Career Services Center.  “I think that they offer so many wonderful services for students that I really want to make sure that we’re promoting to our students to take advantage of.”

If class and working at CANR weren’t enough of a workload for Fry, she also has an internship at the counseling center as part of her graduate program where she mainly does career-based counseling for clients. So a typical day for her can involve any mix of class, work at the counseling center or work at CANR. “I’m just going back and forth all the time,” she said.

As she prepares to graduate in May with a master’s degree in counseling in higher education, Fry said she is looking forward to starting her professional career, but will also miss CANR, a college with which she had strong ties since before she even stepped foot on campus as a freshman.

“Being a prospective student in high school, I remember calling up my future adviser, Dr. (Tom) Ilvento,” said Fry. “And Dr. (Steve) Hastings was the first person I met here so, even from just being a high school prospective student, I started building relationships with people in the college which have only strengthened and become more meaningful to me through my undergraduate experience and beyond. I’m just really thankful for everything they’ve done for me.”

Article by Adam Thomas

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UD sophomore Jenna Byers keeps busy as FFA Agricultural Ambassador

August 29, 2011 under CANR News

Having worked four jobs last semester, cutting down to three just wouldn’t satisfy Jenna Byers, a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), so when she saw the opportunity to become an FFA Agricultural Ambassador, she decided to add a fourth.

In addition to being a full-time student as a food and agribusiness marketing and management major, Byers works as the UDairy Creamery’s communications and marketing manager, is a Blue Hen Ambassador and serves as a research assistant studying poultry in the laboratory of Robert Alphin, instructor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and manager of the Agriculture Experiment Center.

And she has now also taken on the challenge of being an FFA Agricultural Ambassador, a term that will last until July 2012.

Byers admits that her penchant for taking on occupational responsibility may be getting a little bit out of hand and jokes, “I don’t like to be bored. If I hit five jobs, that’s when I know I have to stop, so four is kind of my stopping point.”

In order to become an FFA Ambassador, Byers was required to provide a video of herself making an educational presentation to an audience. Having been a presenter at a recent Ignite Newark event, where participants make a five-minute PowerPoint presentation on a topic of their choosing, Byers provided FFA with her presentation “How to Buy a Gift for Your Girlfriend Without Getting Dumped.” Byers said that this outside of the box thinking helped land her the job, as FFA representatives told her the video was the only non-agriculture topic submitted.

As an FFA Ambassador, Byers is one of 20 students from across the nation who are required to complete 30 hours of presentations, which she will give to high schools and clubs and organizations, in order to raise awareness of the importance of agriculture and develop and implement sustainable agricultural awareness programs to inspire and motivate local communities.

Through the FFA program, more than 83,400 people have learned the value of agriculture, with 72 students from 27 states having served as ambassadors giving presentations in 34 states and three foreign countries.

Byers explained that FFA Ambassadors are encouraged to present to a broad spectrum of audiences and that they vary their presentations to explain diverse topics ranging from the basics of “what is agriculture” to more specific topics such as “how bio-technology can help solve the global food crisis.”

Locally, Byers has already set up presentations with Lake Forest and Glasgow high schools, and she hopes to present at other high schools in the area that have strong agricultural programs, as well as some elementary schools. She also hopes to present at schools in Maryland, where she attended elementary school.

Becoming an FFA Ambassador has its perks, such as travel outside of the state for educational exercises. Byers completed a week-long training program in North Carolina geared at getting the ambassadors prepared to use software such as PowerPoint and Prezi for their presentations. In the winter, she will travel to Indianapolis where she will learn how to actually write the presentations.

Byers also received a $1,000 scholarship for becoming an FFA Ambassador and FFA equipped her with a laptop, a projector and a digital camera. If she stays with the program next year, they will also give her an iPad to help her with her presentations.

For someone so involved in the CANR community and agricultural outreach, Byers admits that she did not have a lot of agricultural experience before coming to UD. “I’m actually not from an agriculture background — I didn’t grow up on a farm or anything like that. I got into agriculture when I came into UD and started doing research with Professor Alphin and his research group doing poultry research.”

Byers explained that she was involved with the poultry research throughout her freshman year and continues to be involved, and from that, she “just got more involved in agriculture, got into more activities and so I have kind of a short agriculture background but it’s been a fun one.”

Now Byers gets to spread her agricultural experience and knowledge with people of all ages throughout the state and the surrounding areas, and as for all of her jobs and responsibilities, Byers stressed that she’s not worried about time management.

“Honestly, I’m not too worried. I’ve always worked multiple jobs. I’ve scheduled my classes in a way that’s going to allow me to have a lot of large blocks of free time. That way I can come to the Creamery and do work and do my presentations during the day.”

With a full course load and four jobs, Byers will be anything but bored in the fall.

The FFA Ambassador program is sponsored by BASF, Syngenta, the National Pork Board and Elanco Animal Health.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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