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Agrimarketing : May 2009
27 Jim Evans Article:32 Feature Story 5/13/09 11:18 AM Page 27 EDUCATION AGCOMMUNICATIONSENDOWEDCHAIR T by Tami Craig Schilling, Director of Public Affairs,Monsanto he agriculture industry faces many diverse challenges in today’smarketplace. The need for effective communications between our industry and those it affects is even greater. Future leaders in agricultural communications are needed to ensure that this specialty is not lost or lumped inwith a general communication curriculum. The University of Illinois recognizes the importance of ag communications and isworking diligently to raise funds for the newly created Dr. James F. Evans Endowed Chair inAgricultural Communications. The endowed chair in honor of Dr. JimEvans, awell-known ag communicator locally and globally, is key to helping the university continue as a center for excellence and dedicated teaching, research, and service in agricultural communications, locally and globally. OPPORTUNITIES/NEED As opportunities continue to emerge for agricultural communicators to help solve global challenges, there is also a great need for educational opportunities to train future generations of agricultural communicators. “Professional communicators have to be key partnerswith agriculture science professionals.We need to use professional communicators to translate complicated issues into accurate, understandable language for the rest of us,” Evans says. Dynamic newmedia channels are redefining the field of communications. Rising agricultural communicators needmore experienceswith the Web andmedia fragmentation as instant access to the news creates a need for specialist communications professionals. These specialists need a deep knowledge of agriculture and the skill set to evolve and thrive in this ever-changingmedia environment. The University of Illinoismade the decision to strengthen the relationship between the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and the College ofMedia. Starting in the fall of 2009, the combined academic programwill be stronger and more aligned. The second decisionwas to create the James F. Evans Endowed Chair inAgricultural Communications. FIRST-EVER AG COMMCHAIR This new, strengthened curriculum will ensure the university continues to educate students in agricultural, consumer, and environmental communications. This first-of-its-kind endowed chair in agricultural communications,will not only provide resources to undergraduate students at the university, but alsowill support teaching and research. (Top)WGN’s Orion Samuelson (l) hosted Evans and a group of University of Illinois ag communication students on a 1969 field study tour. Also shown is then-student Bob Brown. “We have to function on the understanding that effective communication is the central feature of the wholeWeb of agriculture issues, including energy, biofuels, food supply, aswell as animal health and animal care,” Evans explains. This newprogramwill benefit the overall industry, as the growing need for agricultural communicators is ever present. Dr. JimEvans and hiswifeMarlene The university plans to provide support for three teaching positions, including enhanced opportunities for graduate studies.With this enhanced agricultural communications program, studentswill havemore opportunity in terms of admissions, courses, learning resources, scholarships, student organizations, advisement and placement services, student awards, alumni status and student representation. Acore belief of Evans is that communication is essential for understanding. The agricultural communications programat the university has the opportunity to lead theworld in developing qualified communications professionals to help people around theworld understand the complexities of agriculture for the better good of all. SUPPORT The project requires contributions totaling $2million to become a reality. The effort is off to a good start with just under $500,000 already raised at the campaign launch event last fall in Champaign, IL. Endowed chair programs are funded fromthe interest earned on the principle balance. That is howthe programwill be sustained for future students in agricultural communications. If you have spent your career helping others understand the role agriculture plays in theworld, or if you have benefited froma successful career in agricultural communications, then this is your opportunity to give back. The endowed chair and enhanced programsets the stage for success in the industry. Tomake a gift to the James F. Evans Endowed Chair inAgricultural Communications Fund, contact Louise Rogers,Associate Dean for Advancement University of Illinois College ofACES, at elrogers@ illinois.edu or 217/333-9355 ormake your gift online at http://advancement. aces.uiuc.edu/endowments-evans. AM May 2009 s Agri Marketing 27
May 2009 Supplement