UD sophomore Jenna Byers keeps busy as FFA Agricultural Ambassador
9:19 a.m., Aug. 29, 2011--Having worked four jobs last semester, cutting down to three just wouldn’t satisfy Jenna Byers, a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), so when she saw the opportunity to become an FFA Agricultural Ambassador, she decided to add a fourth.
In addition to being a full-time student as a food and agribusiness marketing and management major, Byers works as the UDairy Creamery’s communications and marketing manager, is a Blue Hen Ambassador and serves as a research assistant studying poultry in the laboratory of Robert Alphin, instructor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and manager of the Agriculture Experiment Center.
Slip sliding away
And she has now also taken on the challenge of being an FFA Agricultural Ambassador, a term that will last until July 2012.
Byers admits that her penchant for taking on occupational responsibility may be getting a little bit out of hand and jokes, “I don’t like to be bored. If I hit five jobs, that’s when I know I have to stop, so four is kind of my stopping point.”
In order to become an FFA Ambassador, Byers was required to provide a video of herself making an educational presentation to an audience. Having been a presenter at a recent Ignite Newark event, where participants make a five-minute PowerPoint presentation on a topic of their choosing, Byers provided FFA with her presentation “How to Buy a Gift for Your Girlfriend Without Getting Dumped.” Byers said that this outside of the box thinking helped land her the job, as FFA representatives told her the video was the only non-agriculture topic submitted.
As an FFA Ambassador, Byers is one of 20 students from across the nation who are required to complete 30 hours of presentations, which she will give to high schools and clubs and organizations, in order to raise awareness of the importance of agriculture and develop and implement sustainable agricultural awareness programs to inspire and motivate local communities.
Through the FFA program, more than 83,400 people have learned the value of agriculture, with 72 students from 27 states having served as ambassadors giving presentations in 34 states and three foreign countries.
Byers explained that FFA Ambassadors are encouraged to present to a broad spectrum of audiences and that they vary their presentations to explain diverse topics ranging from the basics of "what is agriculture" to more specific topics such as "how bio-technology can help solve the global food crisis."
Locally, Byers has already set up presentations with Lake Forest and Glasgow high schools, and she hopes to present at other high schools in the area that have strong agricultural programs, as well as some elementary schools. She also hopes to present at schools in Maryland, where she attended elementary school.
Becoming an FFA Ambassador has its perks, such as travel outside of the state for educational exercises. Byers completed a week-long training program in North Carolina geared at getting the ambassadors prepared to use software such as PowerPoint and Prezi for their presentations. In the winter, she will travel to Indianapolis where she will learn how to actually write the presentations.
Byers also received a $1,000 scholarship for becoming an FFA Ambassador and FFA equipped her with a laptop, a projector and a digital camera. If she stays with the program next year, they will also give her an iPad to help her with her presentations.
For someone so involved in the CANR community and agricultural outreach, Byers admits that she did not have a lot of agricultural experience before coming to UD. “I’m actually not from an agriculture background -- I didn’t grow up on a farm or anything like that. I got into agriculture when I came into UD and started doing research with Professor Alphin and his research group doing poultry research.”
Byers explained that she was involved with the poultry research throughout her freshman year and continues to be involved, and from that, she “just got more involved in agriculture, got into more activities and so I have kind of a short agriculture background but it’s been a fun one.”
Now Byers gets to spread her agricultural experience and knowledge with people of all ages throughout the state and the surrounding areas, and as for all of her jobs and responsibilities, Byers stressed that she’s not worried about time management.
“Honestly, I’m not too worried. I’ve always worked multiple jobs. I’ve scheduled my classes in a way that’s going to allow me to have a lot of large blocks of free time. That way I can come to the Creamery and do work and do my presentations during the day.”
With a full course load and four jobs, Byers will be anything but bored in the fall.
The FFA Ambassador program is sponsored by BASF, Syngenta, the National Pork Board and Elanco Animal Health.
Article by Adam Thomas
Photo by Danielle Quigley