From Class to Cow Pastures: How a CALS Student Applies Herself

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"I competed because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and embrace my passion for agriculture," Lynwood Miller beams. After facing contestants from all across Arizona, the CALS undergraduate was named 2013 senior runner-up in the Arizona State Beef Ambassador competition.

Miller earned her position as senior runner-up through the Arizona State Cowbelles challenge held in the Arizona Cattlemen's Association's offices in Phoenix, Ariz. on April 17, 2013. Competitors were judged upon completion of several events.

The contest preparation highlights industry issues of current consumer interest. Prior to the competition Miller was required to give a presentation about beef to an elementary age group. She decided to present at her church kids center about how beef is a "superfood."

During the competition she was interviewed about the basics of this presentation. She also participated in a pretend radio interview and a mock sample stand where she answered questions for customers regarding beef.

Miller is a senior at the University of Arizona majoring in agricultural technology management and education with an emphasis in agricultural leadership and communication. She was born and raised in Richmond, Va., but spent the past decade of her life in Glendale, Ariz.

As a student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), Miller is actively involved in student professional development as well as extracurricular activities. She is a full-time student in addition to being a member of the Alpha Rho Chapter of Sigma Alpha, a professional agriculture sorority, where she is currently serving a term as the historian. Within CALS she is also a mentor for peers whose grades are suffering. She meets with them weekly to ensure they stay on track academically and gives the students tips to prioritize and better balance their schedules.

The competition, a test of communication in many different ways, is fitting for the role that a beef ambassador plays. While preparing for this national beef promotion and education competition, youth across the nation learn about beef and the beef industry within their families and with support from state cattlewomen, cattlemen's associations and state beef councils.

Winners of the state competitions, like Tori Summey, the winner for the state of Arizona during the 2013 competition, continue their communications at the national level, receiving additional media training. After the event, as youth ambassadors, they address industry issues and misconceptions for the public, while educating peers and others about food safety, nutrition and the Beef Checkoff Program at consumer events, in the classroom and online.

As senior runner-up, Miller had the chance to "agvocate" at an October event.  Miller said, "Agvocating is communicating and educating about agriculture in a positive light. It is important because not enough people know why agriculture is an essential part of the world." Her current focus is bringing beef advocacy into social media by using the hashtag #FarmFactFriday on Instagram and Twitter, accompanied by photos and facts about beef. She is also considering doing a blog on beef advocacy.

Miller enjoys these opportunities because they give her the chance to use what she learned in Ryan Foor's course, Communicating Knowledge of Agriculture and Life Sciences, as well as other classes she has taken within CALS. Foor is an assistant professor and the director for graduate studies in the Department of Agricultural Education. The ambassador senior runner-up position is a real-world arena, where Miller can apply course concepts within the various communities in which she is active.

She is currently pursuing her "Masters of Beef Advocacy"—an online program to improve her knowledge and her responses to questions about beef. Miller is graduating in May 2014 and hopes to attend Arizona State University's west campus to study communications in graduate school.

Written by Michaela Brumbaugh for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Brumbaugh, a junior majoring in plant sciences and minoring in environmental sciences, is interning with CALS Communications and Technologies.