Posted by: Kristy on April 3, 2018

Posted in: Home, Newsletter, Updates

President’s Message

Out of winter, into spring and galloping towards the ARC Conference in Kentucky

By Rebecca Colnar, ARC Board Chair

Rebecca Colnar, ARC Board President, handling the “slimy” side of hands-on ranching.

I hope everyone has survived this winter. It seems if you were in the northern half of the country, you were bombarded with excessive snow and bitter cold; if you were in the lower half, drought was a huge concern, with other areas experiencing heavy rains.

Weather is the weather, and not much we can do about it but make plans to mitigate it no matter where you live. I spent more often than not bundled up in coveralls, a down coat, heavy boots, a warm wool hat and gloves that claimed on the back that they were “good to ten below.” That doesn’t even touch what the temperature hit in Montana and Wyoming in February but I did find out one good thing; they were waterproof. I accidentally discovered this when pulling chunks of ice out of a horse waterer and dragging a newborn, exceptionally slimy, calf out of the snowdrift where his mama deemed to give birth.

If you were cooped up due to inclement weather — and even if you weren’t — I hope you remembered to write a check for your ARC dues. I was up on a late-night heifer watch and noticed an email from Kyle Wieskus reminding me to renew. “It may have slipped your mind…” she said. Yep. I dug out the credit card and renewed immediately. ARC is one organization I don’t want to let my membership lapse. I don’t want to miss a minute of the excellent webinars, planning my entry for the Golden ARC Awards or registering for our conference. At the time of writing this column, we have 30 members who have not renewed. Please check and make you’re your registration hasn’t “slipped through the cracks.” Renew today—and ask a colleague to join us, too! Find out more about ARC membership.

One of the benefits of belonging to ARC is the ability to attend our annual conference. Our 2018 conference promises to be exceptional. Plan to be in Louisville, Kentucky June 19-21 at the stunning and historic Brown Hotel. On Wednesday morning, the meeting begins and features hot topics for public relations professionals.

  1. Workshops include Leah Beyer, digital communications director for Elanco, who will join ARC member Colleen Parr Dekker of Elanco to explore the realities of ‘truth.’ They have the latest insight and advice about perceptions and reality will add credibility to your PR work.
  2. We will be joined by two marketing and public relations professionals from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. They will share their insights from a state that’s top in poultry (yep!), horses, tobacco and a host of other commodities.
  3. We’ll also have Monsanto’s social media guru Janice Person aboard who will cover how the company so many people like to hate (without any real knowledge) deals with its image.
  4. As our non-ag but professional development workshop, Philip Brown of Deph Digital will talk about how his company help brands align their media with their message. His title “Is It A Facebook Apocalypse” sounds intriguing and promises to be extremely relevant in terms of privacy issues and decisions people are making about their own social media settings.

See the article later on in this newsletter for more detailed information about a couple of our professional development sessions.

One change in the usual flow of the conference: we will have our Hall of Fame Awards as a lunchtime program Wednesday. Don’t miss congratulating the long-time industry leaders for their hard work to advance the profession of agricultural public relations.

Stay tuned for a fun Wednesday evening reception at a hot spot in Louisville.


Horses, Bourbon and ‘baccy

  • On Thursday, join us for a “Very Kentucky Tour.”
  • Paul Hornbach who serves on the Kentucky Senate Ag Committee, has promised an informative tour of his farm which grows burley tobacco as well as other crops.
  • The president of the KY Burley Tobacco Growers will talk about how some tobacco growers have hung on despite the decline in the tobacco industry.
  • From the Hornbach Farm, we travel a mile away to Mulberry Orchard in Shelbyville. We will tour the orchard via a hayride and learn more about their seasonal farmers’ market.
  • We are planning a delicious lunch of Applewood BBQ with the fixin’s and fried mini pies for dessert. (If nothing else makes you go on this trip, the thought of fried pies should!)
  • With happy stomachs we will head to Hermitage Farm in Goshen, the premiere Thoroughbred racehorse nursery where General Manager Bill Landes will share experiences and information on the many hats he’s worn in the industry (farm manager, secretary, lawyer, breeder, owner, etc.)
  • In addition, we should be able to tour the new international training center barn with the Hermitage competitive carriage driving horses.
  • The half-hour trip back to Louisville will end at the historic Stitzel-Weller distillery. We’ll learn the history of bourbon, hear about research and development, and end with an informative bourbon tasting. Of course.

The conference wraps up Thursday evening with a reception, dinner and Golden ARC awards being held at the beautiful Brown Hotel.

Get online today at and register for the event,

I look forward to seeing all of our members in Louisville for this event that combines professional development with unique experiences and being with the best friends you will make in this industry.




Professional Development

2018 Annual Meeting Logo Wins, Places and Shows!

ARC members from Alltech brought their considerable talents to bear this year in creating the logo for the 2018 ARC Annual Meeting.

Thank you to Susanna Elliott and Raven Shelton at Alltech for a terrific logo.

There’s only one question remaining. Will you be joining us in Louisville in the Winner’s Circle of Ag PR? Register now!


Professional Development

Golden ARC Awards Entry Time Period Half Gone

— Only one month remains until the Golden ARC Awards entries are due, no later than 11:59 p.m. EST, Friday, May 4. —


The Golden ARC Awards promotes excellence in public relations, and undoubtedly, you have created some excellent campaigns and tactics during calendar year 2017. So, show us what you have accomplished! And, a new lower entry fee should entice you to participate.

The Golden ARC Awards Program began in 1990, and is recognized among the most esteemed awards in the agricultural public relations profession. The restructured Contest reflects the many hats worn by today’s PR practitioner, with categories recognizing everything from full campaigns to tactics such as media relations and innovative new uses of social/digital media. The format and requirements for the Golden ARC Awards are similar to other leading PR awards programs, based on best practices for public relations and public affairs campaigns and tactics.

The Golden ARCs are easier to enter than ever. Instead of spending hours gathering materials, compiling summaries and creating perfect packets, you can spend 10-20 minutes online on the contest website … and you can win! Enter here.

See a complete list of the revised (this year) categories. Entries must have been created or publicized in full or partially during calendar year 2017. The competition is open to ARC members and non-ARC members. Non-members’ first entry includes a fee to cover ARC membership.

Entry Fee Lowered This Year

We have lowered the entry fee to allow more ARC members to access the value of critique of entries than in previous years. Entry fee per CAMPAIGN category is $125 and per TACTIC category is $75.

This year’s competition will be judged by PR practitioners (members of PRSA) in Maine.

To get your online access ID and password, contact Amy Keith McDonald, Contest Manager, at 254-396-3535 or

Brush Up on Your Contest-Enterin’ Skills

With the “Call for Entries” for the Golden ARC Awards now open, what is needed to develop winning entries for PR award programs? Take a quick reminder course, courtesy of long-time ARC member Bob Giblin, APR. In this recorded webinar, Bob shares insight on what to remember when entering awards programs  like the Golden ARC Awards. This webinar is free to watch by anyone, no password required.


Professional Development

The Race is On and Here Comes Professional Growth!

— Louisville Kentucky to Host 2018 ARC Annual Meeting, June 19-20 

Here’s what you can expect from a few of our speakers.

Getting Uncomfortable with Monsanto – A Look Behind the Curtain

Five years ago Monsanto made a conscious choice to get out of its comfort zone of talking with farmers and shareholders and engage directly with consumers in an effort to change the narrative about the company and its technology. What has this looked like and what impact has it had?

About the Speaker

Janice Person is online engagement director on Monsanto Company’s corporate engagement team doing consumer outreach in the ag and food tribes. Much of the work her team does advocates for the whole of modern agriculture, rather than being brand specific. Her outreach to consumers has shown some great results – in blogging conferences, SXSW, and more.

Although Janice grew up a city girl, she became involved in agriculture through college internships. She quickly discovered the impact ag has to make the world a better place and has carried a passion for it since visiting her first farm while in grad school. Much of her career has focused on cotton and that turned to a personal passion that drove her Twitter handle @JPlovesCOTTON which became a personal brand of sorts. She has found social media provides a great way to both learn and share experiences in ways that can help people better understand agriculture broadly. Her contributions to Quora have resulted in her being listed as a Top Writer on the site resulting in her content being shared on Forbes, Huffington Post and Apple News.

Janice has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Phillips University in Enid, OK and a Master’s degree in journalism from the University of Memphis. Prior to joining Monsanto in 2007, she worked for Delta and Pine Land Company in Scott, Mississippi, and Gibbs & Soell in White Plains, New York.


Is It A Facebook Apocalypse?

The cheapest and easiest way to reach your audience online is through social media. But algorithms are changing and post reach is deteriorating. Is the end of social publishing nigh? Are your most engaged followers falling prey to newsfeed devastation? Find out what your brand can do to survive.

About the Speaker

Philip Brown Jr. (owner, Deph Digital Media, is a writer, director, and digital marketing curator whose passion is to help brands leverage the power of social media to grow their business. His efforts have resulted in critically lauded visibility on major television networks, online publications, and even Off-Broadway.

A graduate of the University of Kentucky with a Harvard Extension School certification in Behavioral Economics, Philip has established the online presence of several national brands including: an Emmy Award-winning actress, a Grammy Award-winning entertainer, a multi-million dollar haircare product line, and several national food chains, among others.

Brown is a vocal champion of human rights, education, and philanthropy. He is the marketing director of QCQC, a nonprofit organization that promotes awareness and visibility among LGBTQ youth, and commits both time and resources to helping young people make an impact in their community through


Register today!



Professional Development

Legendary Luxury Awaits Deserving ARC Meeting Attendees


Professional Development

Discover Why ARC Members Rave About Ag Tours!


Year after year, ARC members attending annual meetings reminisce about the regional agricultural tours they’ve experienced through the decades.

Here’s a list of some past tours about which past attendees raved.

  • Charleston … tea plantation
  • Florida … a food irradition facility
  • Corpus Christi .. shrimp farming, and eating grilled shrimp directly out of the water
  • Washington state … winery (and scary bus ride)
  • Colorado … marijuana grow facility and hops farm
  • California … almond farm
  • Memphis … Graceland
  • Texas, the King Ranch … a behind the scenes “ag PR” look
  • Ft. Myers … Cruise
  • San Diego … whale tour
  • Colorado … beef packing plant
  • Florida … cattle ranch (with alligators!)
  • Houston … behind the scenes at NASA
  • Wisconsin … semen collection, storage and analysis at ABS
  • Charleston … Firefly Distillery
  • New Orleans … inner city community garden
  • New Orleans … oyster farming/cruise
  • Florida … riding phosphorous mining equipment the size of a city-block
  • California … rice farming
  • Memphis … loading a grain barge, ag export facilities

ARC offers the tours each year in conjunction with the annual meeting. Regional ag tours allow ARC members to annually target an area of the country and drill down on agriculture in that region.

ARC board member John Blue of Truffle Media Networks asserts the format of the tours helps ARC members build strong relationships with other professionals.

“Getting on the bus is a shared experience tour, where everyone on the bus can talk about what they saw and experienced,” John said. “The tours are really not just a tour but a great way to meet different people that would not easily happen in a conference room.”

What was your favorite tour? Tell us … email Amy at to ‘fess up.’


Foundation News

Jane Hulse of Ohio State Selected for ARC Scholarship

By Den Gardner, ARC Executive Director


Jane Hulse, a sophomore at The Ohio State University, has been selected as the 2018 ARC Foundation Scholarship winner.  Jane is majoring in agricultural communications and has a 3.9 GPA in her major field.

“This is exciting news,” Jane said. “Thank you so much. I am very grateful to receive such a generous scholarship.”

Jane will receive a $1,500 scholarship to be used during the fall semester. ARC re-instituted its scholarship program through the ARC Foundation four years ago. A panel of judges reviewed more than 20 applications. ARC promotes the scholarship through the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, NAMA student chapters and other collegiate outlets.

Jane is active in many activities at Ohio State:

  • Honors Collegium,
  • CFAES Student Council Liaison for Citation Needed/Citation Needed Executive Board (a science-communication organization that works to dispel myths about food and fiber production),
  • Presented research project at The Ohio State Fall Research Forum, and
  • World Food Prize Youth Program.

Her communications-related activities include:

  • Honors & Scholars Content Creators and Social Media Team,
  • CFAES Student Blog at Ohio State,
  • Undergraduate research assistant at Ohio State’s News & Entertainment Research Lab in the School of Communications, and
  • A Girls Scouts Gold Award for writing a book and maintaining a Facebook page and tumblr blog.

“Jane is an excellent representative of Ohio State and our ag communication program,” said Annie Specht, an assistant professor in ag communications at Ohio State. “She is exceptionally bright, intellectually curious and incredibly hardworking. Her abilities and desire to find better ways to communicate about agriculture deserve recognition.”

In Jane’s essay, she wrote about food insecurity and her goals to work to alleviate food insecurity. “Taking what I learned through the World Food Prize, I chose my course of study and activities such that they would allow me to approach the complicated issue of food security from multiple angles.” She said her long-term goals will likely involve working for a non-profit organization and that she “anticipates communications will be central to my career goals.”

To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must intend to use communication skills as part of a career path, provide references, a writing/editing sample and essay describing their career goals.


Foundation News

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Wins ARC Intern’s Talents for Summer

— Madeleine Bezner, Texas A&M University Ag Communications and Journalism Student Selected —

Earlier this year, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) applied for and was accepted to host the annual ARC Intern during the summer. After careful evaluation of the many applications and a few interviews, the selection committee offered the position to a deserving applicant. Yesterday, Madeleine Bezner accepted the position as the 2018 ARC intern.

Madeleine Bezner, Texas A&M University student, wins the 2018 Summer ARC Internship at NCBA.

Madeleine, a student at Texas A&M University, will spend 10-12 weeks in Denver, Colorado, working at NCBA.  She will participate in daily issues monitoring and will assist in responding on behalf of the beef industry, under the supervision of ARC member Madlynn (Maddy) Ruble, reputation manager at NCBA.

Madeleine Bezner is well prepared for her summer experience at NCBA. Having grown up on a farm in the Texas Panhandle, her family owns and operates a feedlot. In her youth, she showed livestock and competed in various FFA and 4-H competitions.

“An appreciation for rural life and hardworking values were instilled in me at a young age, which guided me to Texas A&M University to study agriculture communications and journalism,” Madeleine wrote in her application materials. “Feeding the world is a global challenge I enjoy discussing, specifically when it comes to beef production.”

Madeleine hopes to continue her efforts on behalf of agriculture upon graduation. “When I graduate from college, my ideal job would be to work in a communications position in the field of agriculture that gives me a platform to help bridge the producer-consumer gap through digital media, writing and public speaking,” she wrote.

As part of the internship, Madeleine will contribute to and get to attend ARC Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky June 20-21.

The paid ARC Internship Program, valued at $5,000, is available to students interested in a career in agricultural public relations. If you know a student deserving of this honor for the summer of 2019, be sure to tell them to apply in February of next year.

The internship is unique in ag communications in that it is a collaboration of the organization (ARC) and the host company, this year, NCBA. The ARC portion of the funding comes from a grant from Gardner & Gardner Communications to the ARC Foundation.



ARC Membership Renewal for 2018 is Off to a Great Start!

By Kyle Wieskus, Membership Director


Membership renewals have been sent out for 2018! Renewals are going well – 70% of our membership has renewed for 2018! That is a great start – but we would like to see that number climb! Thank-you to all of you who have renewed already.

If you are a part of the remaining 30% – renew now! To renew online, please click here. This will bring you to the ARC Membership Renewal page. If you have any questions or need assistance, please call the office at 952-758-5811 or email Kyle at

Such a good response in membership renewal tells us that you find significant value in your ARC membershipIt’s time to share that knowledge with your peers in the industry. Can you think of a couple of people that you know would benefit from an ARC membership? We would be happy to reach out to those people. Just drop us a line to give us their info and either staff or an ARC board member will reach out to them.

Reminder about our popular Young Professionals Program! With every two paid memberships from an organization, you get a FREE Young Professional membership! (YP must be 35 years or younger.) ARC membership is $190 per year for the first member and $115 for the second and all subsequent members. Now, with the Free YP program – you can get 3 memberships for only $305! Please contact Kyle to take advantage of the Young Professional program.

ARC will also continue to offer the special $100 rate to employees of state and federal Farm Bureau Federation officers or commodity group members. Please note that online registration and payment at this special $100 rate is not available. Contact Kyle to take advantage of the special offer.

We look forward to having you on board again in 2018.


Professional Development

Professional Development at Your Convenience

… (via your computer or your mobile device)

We recently had two ARC webinars published that cover building your tribe and learning about how regional communities come together around food and agriculture. As an ARC member, you can access these webinars at your convenience to enhance your skills.


password (for ARC members): ARCPR7827



  • And Kari Miskit, with Visit Sacramento, shares the Farm-to-Fork Capital Story, about how Sacramento transformed visiting the city using agriculture, farming, and food.

password (for ARC members): ARCPR7827


See the full array of previously presented ARC webinars. Just another benefit of ARC membership!



Just for Fun

Leave Quirky Time in Louisville


If you’re looking at your travel plans for Louisville, Kentucky, in June, consider taking an extra day to check out the local sites. Here’s a quick (and quirky) list of sites you might like to see.



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