South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

Professor’s focus: ag comm

New Agricultural Communications professor, Erica Summerfield, will join the COJO staff
Submitted Photo
Erica Summerfield will begin teaching starting this fall. She received her doctorate from Ohio State University.

As more people take interest in majors like agricultural communications, the School of Communication and Journalism (COJO) is hiring more people to keep up.

Erica Summerfield will fill the role of assistant professor of agricultural communication starting in August. Summerfield starts full time after she finishes her doctorate in agricultural communication, education and leadership at The Ohio State University this spring.

Summerfield will start by teaching courses that are required as part of the ag-comm specialization and work on developing classes specific to agricultural communications majors. She said she is excited to start at SDSU and is looking to build a bridge between The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) and COJO.

“To be a friendly face for ag comm that students feel comfortable coming to and talking to,” she said. The ag communications specialization has provided many positive experiences to students. Summerfield hopes to grow that and bring on new ideas and people.

Mackenzie Alberts from Pine Island, Minnesota, is a junior completing her bachelor’s in ag communications. She applauded the new hire.

“It’s great the ag-comm department is getting a new hire and I’m excited to see what she can bring to the students at SDSU,” Alberts said.

Ag communications is a specialization where students learn about the agricultural industry from different perspectives and develop effective communication skills to tell the story of agriculture.

The agricultural communications specialization has grown from about 50 majors in 2018 to over 70 this past fall. Joshua Westwick, director of the School of Communication and Journalism, has seen firsthand the growth of the program.

“The department has been in place for a while, but the numbers have gone up rapidly over the past few years,” Westwick said.

Summerfield said there’s so much potential for growth in ag comm in South Dakota.

“The fact that we have so many students excited and doing it gives me a lot of hope for the growth of the program,” Summerfield said. “I think one of my goals is to keep that momentum going, but to kind of kickstart to hopefully make SDSU one of those programs people seek out for ag comm.”

Westwick said: “We don’t offer in COJO a course called agricultural communications and it’s sad … it is a huge portion of our student population. We want to be sure we are prepared to meet their needs.”

The excitement around Yeager Hall, where ag comm students take a number of courses, is on the rise as the start date for Summerfield becomes closer.

“If you look at the work that’s happened through ACT (Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow) and student involvement at a national level … it’s about taking that to the next level and making this better than we already are,” Westwick said.

SDSU staff members are ready to work with Summerfield to get an agricultural communications course added to the curriculum that will hopefully be a required course for students in that particular major.

“I’m really excited about it, and I can’t wait to get started,” Summerfield said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *