Lifestyle Livestock

College Aggies Online students reach millions on social media

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The Animal Agriculture Alliance’s College Aggies Online Scholarship Competition is in full swing. More than 300 students and 20 collegiate clubs are competing for $21,000 in scholarships as they communicate about agriculture and food online and at in-person events. To support students competing in this year’s CAO competition, search for the hashtag #CAO19 on social media and like, comment, and share the posts. So far, students have earned 2.3 million impressions on social media since the competition kicked off on Sept. 16. CAO 2019 runs through Nov. 16, 2019.

College Aggies Online helps students become confident and effective communicators on behalf of agriculture and has been doing so since 2009. The program would not be where it is today without the support of Dairy Management Inc., which manages the checkoff. DMI has sponsored the nine-week program since 2015, offering advice and feedback to help the students reach their full potential.

This year Don Schindler, senior vice president of digital innovations at DMI, hosted a presentation for the students debunking the belief that telling your story is the best solution to bridging the gap between farmers and the public. “Telling your story has nothing to do with the consumer,” said Schindler. “They don’t relate, and therefore they don’t care. What they do care about is why you’re farming and how it benefits them.”

Each week during the competition, students are asked to post about a specific sector of animal agriculture on social media. DMI challenged the students to post about sustainable nutrition during dairy week. “Sustainable nutrition is the idea of providing nutritious food while also taking care of our planet,” said Casey Kinler, Alliance communications manager. “The industry has excelled at providing more food all while decreasing its environmental impact, but still gets unfairly blamed for climate change. CAO students are providing balance to the online conversation by discussing this important topic.”

As part of the club competition, student organizations have 10 challenge options available to them to earn points. In the “Undeniably Dairy” challenge, students are asked to partner with local dairy farmers and checkoffs to host campus booths and farm tours to engage with their peers about the dairy industry. The challenges create a fun atmosphere on college campuses for students to learn about dairy nutrition, animal care, sustainability, and more. Clubs can still sign up to participate here.

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