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Communications and Agricultural Education

Communications and Agricultural Education

Kansas State University
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301 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3402

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More Than Just a Club

by Robin Blume

Teamwork, hands-on experience and the opportunity to network with business professionals are just a few of the many benefits included in being a member of K-State’s National Agri- Marketing Association. This student organization is part of the National Agri-Marketing Association, which according to its Web site (www.nama. org), is the nation’s largest association for professionals in marketing and agribusiness. Each year there is a national competition where students have the opportunity to create and present an innovative product to professionals. According to the NAMA Web site, the feedback they receive allows them to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for future competitions and future careers. This year’s student marketing competition was April 16-18 in Kansas City, Mo.


The NAMA team comprises of students who come together to develop an agricultural product and a plan on how to bring their product into the marketplace. This year there were nine members on the team, seven of whom presented their marketing plan to professional judges. The team members aren’t just agribusiness majors. This year’s team also has students from agricultural economics, agricultural communications and journalism, marketing, and animal sciences and industry. This proves to be beneficial as each student has taken different classes and can provide input from what they have learned in those classes, says Vincent Hofer, agribusiness student.

According to Jeff Pio, agribusiness student, the team starts developing product ideas for the next competition immediately after the current competition is finished. “The first couple months of the fall semester is when we get our members together and really start working,” Pio says. In the beginning, members met about every other week. According to Pio, as the competition came closer they started meeting once a week, and then twice a week. “Right before the competition, we had seven meetings in 14 days,” Hofer says. Many long hours are spent brainstorming and planning, as Hofer says a typical meeting lasts three to four hours. “We spend a lot of time together and get to know each other really well,” Hofer says. “It’s a very close-knit family type atmosphere. That helps us come up with ideas because we aren’t afraid to speak up to each other.”


Communication among teammates is important, especially when brainstorming the initial product idea. Hofer says the team spent several months researching the agricultural industry to figure out what the trends were. This Team members present their product to K-State faculty before the competition, to receive valuable feedback and questions. More Than Just a Club Students gain out-of-class experience and skills for the future “The single most important decision you make is your product. – David Lehman, team adviser ” College Closeup Kansas State Agriculturist Fall 2008 29 year’s product was a social networking service for farmers, called MyFarm.com.

“It’s what we like to call the ‘Facebook for farmers,’” Hofer says. This site was designed to give farmers the opportunity to communicate with each other, discuss current farm topics and establish business connections. “It also includes industry news and the current markets,” Hofer says. “There’s the eBay atmosphere as well. You can find people in your region who have tractors, implements, grain or seed for sale.” The Web site is free to users, as revenue is generated through online advertising sales. Even though it is a fictional site, Hofer says the team has talked about implementing it in the real world to help communication among farmers. Developing a product that would benefit the agricultural industry is essential in this competition.

“The single most important decision you make is your product,” says David Lehman, marketing instructor and team adviser. According to Lehman, last year’s product was a text messaging service called Cattlyst. The product was targeted toward feedlot owners and managers, and would provide marketing information to assist them in making decisions. The product for the previous year was called Vibe, a fruit juice fortified with milk to provide calcium. Both Cattlyst and Vibe were national champions in their respective years.

Life Lessons

Student members gain more from NAMA practices and competitions than marketing experience, communication skills and trophies. “It is an industry experience through club organization,” Hofer says. Since the competition is a part of the NAMA convention, students also get the chance to network with not only other student chapters, but professionals as well. “I’ve met tons of people within the industry,” Hofer says. “That’s one thing I’ve learned from NAMA is networking ability.” Pio agrees that being a part of NAMA has helped him gain skills that he will carry with him for the rest of his life.

“I have definitely gained public speaking skills,” Pio says. “At the competition, there are four rounds of speaking in front of professionals.” Gaining public speaking skills isn’t the only thing NAMA has done for Pio. “It has also helped me in classes,” Pio says. “There will be stuff we talk about in class that I will have already learned from working on our product.” While there is a lot of work that goes into the finished product, members find it to be a rewarding experience. “The competition is where it’s fun,” Hofer says. “Getting up there in front of the judges, getting all the adrenalin pumping, that’s where it all starts coming together and your realize it’s all worth it.”

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