TIFTON, Ga. — Sharing the good news about Georgia’s largest industry has ignited growth in the number of students pursuing the Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Communication at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
“Agricultural Communication is still a relatively new degree program at ABAC, and it’s a growing major across the country,” Andrew Thoron, Agricultural Education and Communication Department head, said. “We expect to more than double our student enrollment in the next two years.”
Joanne Littlefield, associate professor of Agricultural Communication, said the 42 students in the program are from both the city and the farmlands across the Southeast.
“The degree appeals to those students interested in advocating for agriculture and natural resources issues,” Littlefield said. “We draw students from throughout the region, both urban and rural. Some are involved in production agriculture, but some are not.”
Jessica Akins, lecturer of Agricultural Communication, believes some students who have had no connection to agriculture in the past find the degree a real adventure.
“Due to the increase in interest, we are able to share the story of agriculture and natural resources with people who may not have heard much about the industry before,” Akins said. “We are seeing people who did not grow up in production agriculture or natural resources take an interest in those sectors and declare an agricultural communication major to not only learn about the industry but also how to communicate about it to their connections.”
Akins said there is increased interest among Americans as to where their food, fuel, and fiber originates. ABAC students who study agricultural communication are taught to share the message of agriculture, Georgia’s largest industry, to the population in many ways. And the best part, there are jobs aplenty.
“The job market is really good right now,” Akins said. “Agriculture and natural resources organizations, businesses, and groups are looking to tell their stories to their audiences in new and creative ways.
“The major prepares students to serve in a lot of different roles by gaining a plethora of communication skills, but they have the opportunity to hone in on specific skills they are most interested in during their time at ABAC through internships, courses, and club activities.”
Charley Lollis, a junior agricultural communication major from Perry, loves the wide range of classes offered through the ABAC program.
“I chose to major in agricultural communication because of the variety of different courses I could take,” Lollis said. “I get to dip my toes in different agriculture classes as well as journalism and marketing courses.
“With an ag comm degree, I have the option to educate people about agriculture while not necessarily being in the classroom as a teacher.”
Due to the rise in digital media, agricultural groups and companies are looking for ways to share the message of agriculture on new and different platforms. Students with degrees in agricultural communication from ABAC will have the skills to fill these jobs.
“We see a lot of our students work for agricultural commodity groups, government agencies, private-sector companies, academic institutions, and non-profits,” Akins said.
Students can focus on what their passion is in communication and agriculture through outlets such as internships, ABAC clubs, and other extracurricular activities. ABAC students have served as interns at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, the American Angus Association, and in the state and national legislative realm.
“Other institutions offer this program, but our students take more agriculture and natural resources courses and gain authentic experience through our industry partnerships, internships, and senior capstone projects,” Thoron said.
The ABAC demographic tilts toward a female majority for this major, but more males are beginning to find the program to their liking. Because of ABAC clubs such as the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) and growing job opportunities, more men could choose the degree in the future.
DeAnthony Price from Morrow became the first Black Agricultural Communication graduate in the history of ABAC in the spring.
“It means a lot to me to be the first Black American to graduate from ABAC with the bachelor’s degree in agricultural communication,” Price said. “At ABAC, I learned to communicate and to educate people about agriculture. Academically, ABAC was very positive for me.”
Students interested in pursuing the Agricultural Communication degree path should contact the ABAC admissions office at email@example.com for more information.