Students from Purdue University and Western Illinois University have captured first place in the 2017 College Aggies Online scholarship competition. The Animal Agriculture Alliance CAO scholarship competition prepares students to become lifelong advocates for agriculture.
Since CAO launched in 2009, nearly 6,000 students have participated. This year’s program kicked off in early September with about 300 students competing in the individual division while 30 student organizations competed in the club division. The participants represented 43 states and 89 different universities.
In the individual competition, the winners were:
- First place, $2,500 scholarship: Erica Ballmer, Purdue University
- Second place, $1,000 scholarship: Allison Burenheide, Oklahoma State University
- Third place, $500 scholarship: Alex Jacks, Mississippi State University
In the club competition, the winners were:
- First place, $2,500 scholarship: Agriculture Club, Western Illinois University
- Second place, $1,000 scholarship: Agriculture Advocacy Class, Northwest Missouri State University
- Third place, $500 scholarship: Les Voyageurs, Louisiana State University
The top three individual winners along with a representative from each winning club will receive an expenses-paid trip to the Alliance’s 2018 Stakeholders Summit set for May 3-4 in Arlington, Virginia.
The 2017 competitors shared more than 3,000 posts about agriculture on Instagram and Twitter which earned more than 4.4 million impressions and nearly 400 posts were shared on Facebook. More than 16,000 students and faculty members attended the numerous farm tours, guest speaker presentations, booths, and other events held on college campuses.
In addition to recognizing the winners, the Alliance is spotlighting the individuals and clubs who successfully finished the program with the CAO Completion Emblem, which demonstrates their commitment to advocating for agriculture.
Individuals who earned the CAO Completion Emblem were:
- Erica Ballmer, Purdue University
- Allison Burenheide, Oklahoma State University
- Alex Jacks, Mississippi State University
- Keely Egelhoff, Western Illinois University
- Madeline McGarry, Iowa State University
- Megan Nelson, North Dakota State University
- Jessica Miller, Oklahoma State University
- Markie Hageman, Fort Hays State University
- Ellen Schutt, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Callie Rathjen, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- Lindsey O’Hara, Western Illinois University
- Ashley Huntsberger, University of Nevada, Reno
- Daiton Tietz, Iowa State University
- Madison Martin, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
- Rebekka Brown, University of Florida
- Emily Solis, University of Maryland-College Park
- Clubs who earned the CAO Completion Emblem were:
- Agriculture Club, Western Illinois University
- Agriculture Advocacy Class, Northwest Missouri State University
- Les Voyageurs, Louisiana State University
- Ag Ambassadors, Eastern Oklahoma State University
- Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, Tuskegee University
“Every year we applaud the students for being the most engaged and enthusiastic group to compete, but it seems each group outdoes the last,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “We are thrilled to see so many individuals passionate about agriculture.”
The nine-week program is filled with assignments for individuals such as blog posts, infographics, and photo contests while club members receive challenges ranging from hosting farm tours and school visits to guest speakers, food drives, and many more. Each assignment and challenge helps the students to boost their confidence when communicating with their peers about agriculture issues.
The Alliance also awarded mini scholarships of $100 throughout the competition to individuals selected by industry mentors for doing the best on the weekly assignments. In the club competition, a mini scholarship of $250 was awarded to the groups who hosted the best events for each challenge.