Byers named FFA Agriculture Ambassador, Jones wins FFA Alumni Scholarship

September 13, 2012 under CANR News

University of Delaware student Jenna Byers has been named an FFA National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador for the second year in a row, while UD student Jake Jones has received an FFA Alumni Scholarship.

Jenna Byers

One of only 20 students nationwide to be named a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador, Byers said that it felt great to be named for the second year in a row and joked that she was, “really happy to find out that I had done ‘Ok’ the first time around.”

As a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador, Byers is 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’s National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador program, more than 103,700 people have learned the value of agriculture, with 88 students from 29 states having served as ambassadors giving 2,160 presentations in 34 states and three foreign countries.

Byers, pictured in the front row, third from the left, with her fellow FFA National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassadors

Arba Henry, instructor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics and faculty advisor for the University of Delaware’s Collegiate FFA, said of Byers being named for the second year in a row, “Jenna was the first member of our chapter to be so honored. She is an excellent representative of our chapter, College, and University at the national Level.”

As a second year ambassador, Byers, who majors in food and agribusiness marketing and management, said that she is able to not only learn from her experiences the first time around, but also to share those experiences with her fellow ambassadors. “In addition to being able to do the presentations to different schools and different audiences, I can also work with first year ambassadors and help them.”

It also helps that she can reflect on the presentations she conducted during her first year in the program as she said, “I can pick out probably something from every presentation that I did that I wish I had done differently.”

The most important lesson that she learned, however, was that flexibility is key. “When you’re working with kids, nothing is going to go exactly the way that you planned it but if you have an idea of what you want to talk about in general, you can go in and have a good time and make sure that the students come away with the information. You don’t always have to stick right to the plan.”

Last year, Byers was able to talk with preschool students about how milk gets from a dairy farm to their refrigerator, and had a Girl Scout Troop make ice cream in a bag, which was a good tie in for the UDairy Creamery, where Byers works as marketing manager.

Although she plans to conduct talks at schools and with younger kids again this year, Byers also said that she wants to incorporate more talks geared towards civic organizations. These talks will be more conversational and aimed at addressing topics currently going on in the country, like the drought farmers faced over the summer.

“I’m hoping to be able to talk a lot about the drought situation and the fact that corn prices because of the drought are going to be spiking soon and the effect that we’re going to see from that,” said Byers.  “A lot of people who aren’t directly involved in agriculture just see the prices fluctuating and they don’t know the reasons behind it, so I’m hoping to be able to bring some light to that situation.”

Byers also said that being named a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador has had a great impact on recognition for the First State. “The cool thing now is that we have someone from Oregon so now our little slogan is ‘Reaching from Oregon to Delaware.’ So Delaware got a little shout out there, and every time somebody says it I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’”

Jake Jones

Jones, a sophomore studying plant science in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, explained that the award he received was “a scholarship awarded to a Delaware high school senior or college student who is studying agriculture.”

Jones has been involved with FFA for four years, three in high school and one at UD, and he heard about the opportunity through an e-mail sent out by Henry.

Henry said of Jones receiving the award, “Jake has been and continues to be an active member of our chapter. Over the summer, Jake interned at the UD Carvel Research Center in vegetable research. During his freshmen year, Jake maintained the highest GPA of all Collegiate FFA freshmen members.”

Jones said that his favorite part about FFA is, “the opportunity for scholarships and community involvement.”

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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