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Department of Agricultural & Extension Education

Physical Address:
Agricultural & Extension Education Building, Room 102
1134 West 6th Street

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2040
Moscow, ID 83844-2040

Phone: 208-885-6358

Fax: 208-885-4039




The Hoot, July 2020

Challenging Times for Agriculture

These are challenging times for our students, the department, college and university. During the spring semester we witnessed all classes being moved online and all meetings being held over Zoom with no face-to-face interaction. Our students, faculty and staff handled this change with excellence and a can-do attitude.

It is in times like these that we see the continuing need for agricultural education, extension, communications and leadership. Agricultural teachers across the state and country have had to modify their instruction to provide online learning opportunities for their students. This has also included our spring student-teachers across Idaho, Washington and Oregon. They’ve excelled in this new challenging environment.

At the same time, we’ve seen a need for more community support through our agricultural Extension programs in Idaho counties. This requires outstanding communication skills to utilize new technologies and communications methods that provide the information and resources our clients need.

Finally, all of these endeavors require leadership. COVID-19 altered our environment like we never expected. However, our students, faculty, staff and alumni have handled this crisis like professionals. They have used their knowledge, skills and positive attitude to maintain our educational programs throughout this spring. I congratulate everyone and thank you for your dedication and hard work for agricultural education, Extension, communications and leadership.

Go Vandals!

Jim Connors


Jim Connors, Department Head
Department of Agricultural and Extension Education


Upcoming events

  • July 17 — UIBound
  • August 1 — Commencement
  • August 3-6 — REACH conference
  • August 24 — Fall classes begin

Agricultural science, communication and leadership

  • Total students: 40
  • Twin Falls students: 15
  • Boise students: 2

Agricultural education

  • Total students: 64

Total students: 104

Student Spotlight

Marie Mellick is a junior studying agricultural science, communication and leadership abroad at Oklahoma State University on the National Student Exchange program. Mellick says, “When I tell people I am an exchange student from Idaho, I usually get a funny look. You usually think of exchange students coming from other countries.” Learning about a new part of the country, making new friends, learning how to rely on herself and others, and having amazing adventures has made an impact on her life.

Mellick grew up in Worley on a wheat farm, growing wheat, barley, peas, lentils and hay. She was also a 10-year 4-H member and participated in dog, horse, pack goat and market steer projects. Mellick currently lives on a horse farm with her dog and cat; and has recently started riding horses again after taking a few years off.

Mellick chose to study ASCL because she enjoys the communication and leadership aspect, while still having the technical ag experience. “I love ASCL because it helps me become a better leader and version of myself,” she explains. She looks forward to advocating for agriculture in the future and appreciates the versatility of the ASCL degree for plans after graduation. “At this point, I plan to continue working with Dr. Warren for a while and am considering getting a masters in soil science,” Mellick says. Her goal is to teach non-agricultural people or people in other sectors of the industry about soil and management. She wants to work with industry professionals to maximize production and conservation in their operations.

Mellick is proud of her soil judging team accomplishments. She was on the U of I soil judging team for a semester before moving, but quickly joined the OSU team when she got there. She currently works for Jason Warren, who is the soil judging coach, a plant and soil science associate professor, and a soil and water conservation/management extension specialist. She assists in his research in no-till vs. conventional tillage effects and irrigation. “Last fall, the OSU soil judging team took first in our regional contest and I won fifth individual,” Mellick says. Great job!

She believes that every person should try living somewhere new. Her experience has been challenging but has made her happier than she has ever been. She says, “Change is really hard, but it can also be the best thing you ever did.” Mellick will return to U of I for the fall 2020 semester. — Written by Lynnsey Tracy

Marie Mellick
Marie Mellick holding her 2019 Regional IV Soil Judging Contest award.
Students studying soil research
Marie Mellick studying abroad in Oklahoma.

Student Spotlight

Savannah Stroebel is a sophomore studying agricultural education at the University of Idaho. Stroebel grew up in Kuna and got her start in agriculture by joining 4-H when she was young. She spent her summers with extended family members, raising market steers for the local county fair. After joining FFA and being exposed to a more diverse view of agriculture, she discovered a deeper passion for the industry.

Stroebel always knew she wanted to be a teacher but wasn’t set on her future career aspirations until after joining FFA. “I thought it was going to be just another club that would make my resume look good,” she stated. But as her involvement in the organization progressed over her four years of high school, she began to realize how much those FFA experiences would impact her future.

Stroebel served as an Idaho FFA state officer during the 2018-2019 year and says it was one of the greatest years of her life. “I spent my time traveling the state learning about agriculture, meeting with industry stakeholders, advocating for career and technical education in the legislature, growing as a leader and human, meeting awesome FFA members and of course representing a life changing organization.” These high-impact experiences as a state officer helped Strobel solidify her choice to pursue agricultural education as a future career.

Stroebel continues to stay involved as she serves as the teach ag intern for the Agricultural and Extension Education Department and the ASUI vice president’s senate adjutant. She is also working for National FFA as a Washington Leadership Conference facilitator, which means she gets to spend her summer working with students, teaching them the importance of service and helping them create service plans to employ in their hometowns. Stroebel hopes to continue working for the National FFA Organization as a conference facilitator while she finishes her undergraduate degree, “and hopefully my masters,” she says. When she finishes school, she anticipates finding herself in the classroom as a secondary high school ag teacher. — Written by Lynnsey Tracy

Savannah Stroebel  holds FFA jacket
Savannah Stroebel holding up her FFA jacket.
Savannah Stroebel
Savannah Stroebel speaking at a conference.

SLC Interns Learn Adaptability and Contingency Planning

Over the last 10 years, the AEE department has collaborated with the Idaho FFA Association to hire, train and supervise student interns who assist in planning and running the Idaho FFA State Leadership Conference (SLC). This year, three student directors, Kjersti Clawson (Awards & Events), Nate Kieffer (Public Relations) and MaKenna Wilson (Sessions) were hired to assist in the interview process, course facilitation and training, delegation of preconference assignments, and supervision of their respective areas and interns at SLC.

Following an interview process, 19 additional interns were brought on to the team. These students all registered for AgEd 350 Leadership Event Coordination and are assigned specific roles: Public Relations is comprised of delegates, workshops, industry relations, photography and social media manager positions; Awards and events includes CDEs, proficiency and STAR award managers; and Sessions encompasses arena, backstage, AV, awards, stage materials, line-up and courtesy corps managers. All of these students were feeling prepared and ready to take on their role at SLC when we received the news that SLC would be canceled for this year.

All of these students were feeling prepared and ready to take on their role at SLC when we received the news that SLC would be cancelled for this year.

Within less of a week from the news, the student directors and interns were then given the task to develop contingency plans for moving forward. Initially, many of the events, including sessions, would be postponed to Moscow State CDEs. Less than a few weeks into these contingency plans we received the news that we would be moving forward virtually. Student directors and interns took on leadership positions to create another set of contingency plans.

Students working on the Awards and Events team collaborated with superintendents and teachers to create virtual competitions for students. The public relations team worked to develop online delegate meetings for association business and social media plans for announcing winners and highlighting sponsors. The sessions staff began collecting videos, photos, redoing media and developing a production plan to produce six virtual sessions.

These students did not have their chance to attend and run the conference they planned. However, they gained more in the ability to move forward in the face of uncertainty and to understand the importance of creating contingency plans. Students reported that they felt they developed the skills needed to respond in time of crisis and to adapt quickly. Another student commented that they gained a sense of community from the process and felt very supported as they worked through the unforeseeable change of events with their team members. Overall, the AEE department and IDFFA are grateful for the continued dedication of these students, which has extended far past their required course responsibilities. — Written by Sarah Bush

Award Highlights

  • CALS Outstanding Administrative Support: Renee Hanson
  • U of I Outstanding Senior Student Achievement: Bret Kindall
  • CALS R.M. Wade Excellence in Teaching nominee: Kattlyn Wolf

CALS Outstanding Student nominees

  • Freshman: Kiera Packer
  • Sophomore: Savannah Stroebel
  • Junior: Bethany Newston
  • Senior: Bret Kindall

Congratulations Spring and Summer Graduates!

  • Ryan Altom
  • Tamara Balderrama
  • Alison Brown
  • Haley Cline
  • Hannah Doumit
  • Makenna Ellinghaus
  • McKenna Ford
  • Jaylan Funk
  • Katie Gerwig
  • McKenna Hughes
  • Madison Jones
  • Bret Kindall
  • Jordan Kranz
  • Elexus Moore
  • Taylor Nelson
  • Kyle Olsen
  • Zachery Putzier
  • Robi Salisbury
  • Molly Sparrow
  • Leah Stouder
  • Stuart Tice
  • John Wiseman
  • Erica Wood
“Congratulations to all our graduates, thank you for being the best part of our program. As you move forward into the next stage of life, remember that happy is a choice, the journey is often more important than the destination, and we will always be ready with support and to cheer you on in any endeavor you choose to pursue.” — Love & Luck, Kasee Smith
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts — Good luck in the next chapter!” — Kattlyn Wolf
“You made it! Congratulations on achieving this great accomplishment!” — Amanda Moore-Kriwox
“Go Vandals!” — Jeremy Falk
“Congratulations! It’s time to set out on your new adventure and continue to make an impact on those around you.” — Sarah Bush
“I wish you all the best as you carry the Vandal spirit with you as you go into the world reaching your goals and making a positive difference!” — Clara-Leigh Evans
“Congratulations 2020 Graduates! I can’t wait to see what your bright future holds!” — Renee Hanson
“Congratulations on your graduation! Best of luck in everything you do. Go forth to make your impact and change the world.” — Jim Connors

Staff Spotlight

Maggie Elliot graduated from the University of Idaho in the spring of 2018 with a degree in agricultural science, communications and leadership. Since then, she graduated from Texas Tech University with a masters in agricultural communications and has found her way back to the U of I. Elliot is now filling the role of director of recruitment and student engagement for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Some of Elliot’s tasks include organizing marketing campaigns, facilitating the CALS Ambassador program and meeting with prospective students.

Elliot grew up in Prosser, Washington, a community deeply woven in agriculture. She worked many jobs in many different commodities such as cherries, wine grapes and apples. Elliot believes that these summers were, “all experiences illuminating what a beautiful story agriculturist have to tell,” and she couldn’t be more right. She says that people care about where their food comes from and that sharing the narrative to growing and preparing food is something she is particularly drawn towards. Elliot stated she believes it to be her responsibility to serve as a voice for agriculture communities.

While attending U of I, she said her time was fundamental to helping cultivate confidence in herself as well as grow her talents, leading her to where she is today. Elliot’s favorite part of attending the university was being part of the community. “I am thankful to have graduated with a strong network of mentors,” she said, “the faculty in the AEE department explored opportunities beyond the threshold of agricultural education to help students like myself gain valuable writing and research experiences.”

Elliot advises all ASCL majors to “find what you enjoy and work hard to cultivate talent in a defined area. Seek professional advice and feedback to refine your skills and shape what you love into an expertise.” We are so glad to have you back Maggie and look forward to seeing your upcoming work. — Written by Tessa Taylor

Maggie Elliot
Maggie Elliot

Research Corner

With the transition to online classes this semester, teachers across Idaho and the United States are using technology to present their curriculum. Kasee Smith and students in AgEd 301 Undergraduate Research, found this to be a perfect opportunity to investigate how Idaho agricultural educators feel about implementing technology into their classrooms. This quantitative research project is a collaboration between the students in the research class and Kasee Smith. The survey will be sent out to all Idaho agricultural educators. The questions asked on the survey will help to better understand these instructors’ experience, confidence and use of technology in the classroom while also assessing what barriers there might be.

The students involved have many goals for the outcome of this project and long term applications for their findings. — Written by Klae O’Brein

Early Career Check-In

Olivia Zurcher graduated from the University of Idaho in 2017 with a degree in agricultural education and is currently in her third year of teaching in Prosser, Washington. Zurcher grew up in Connell, Washington on her family’s third generation dairy farm. Throughout high school, Zurcher was heavily involved in FFA which lead to her career as an ag teacher. Zurcher said she had always wanted to become a teacher and always had a strong passion for agriculture. When Zurcher realized she could do both, her career path was set. So far, her favorite part of teaching is getting to know both the students and community of Prosser.

While attending U of I, Zurcher made many fond memories but some of her favorite stemmed from being involved in extracurricular activities. She enjoyed traveling with clubs and classes from National FFA Convention to the National Meat Evaluation Competition as well as the Livestock Judging Contest. She was able to participate in many different activities and meet many people which she says is the one thing she really misses.

Zurcher shared that one of the most influential professors she had was Matt Doumit. Doumit helped her get involved in meat sciences through her livestock and carcass evaluation class. She also says that Marvin Heimgartner was a huge influence in teaching her about the shop aspect of her current job and also provided her with great advice.

Some of the most useful parts of her college experiences were the labs she took with some of her courses. Zurcher says, “those experiences and hands-on opportunities stuck with me even if I took those classes six years ago.” She says they taught useful skills that she often uses daily when teaching her classes. — Written by Tessa Taylor

Olivia Zurcher
Olivia Zurcher

First Year Teacher Check-In

Kylee Fisher graduated from the University of Idaho in May 2019 with her B.S. in agricultural education. Originally from Burns, Oregon, Fisher served as the Oregon FFA state secretary in 2014-15 before coming to U of I, and she notes that her experience in FFA changed her life. Her FFA experience, combined with a passion for agriculture and people is what spurred her decision to become a high school ag teacher. She is now in the midst of her first year of teaching in Nampa.

Fisher says that everything she learned during her time in Moscow and through the agricultural education program at U of I has been helpful in transitioning into teaching agriculture to high school students. This includes classroom management, writing curriculum and knowing the different sectors involved in agriculture. Fisher stated that she did not realize how much “behind the scenes” work teachers do.

Currently, Fisher teaches wide variety of classes: Introduction to Agriculture; Ag Shop 1: Junior Fabrication; Ag Shop 2: Senior Fabrication; and Advanced Animal Science: Dual Credit Course. She says her favorite part of teaching thus far is, “watching my students have their ‘Ah-Ha’ moment when everything clicks, especially in the shop atmosphere.”

Despite currently enjoying her time as a teacher, Fisher says she misses Vandal football games, especially U of I Homecoming and Ag Days. She was an active member of the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, Collegiate FFA and Student Idaho Cattle Association during her time in Moscow.

Kattlyn Wolf and Marvin Heimgartner are “tied” as the most influential individuals in Fisher’s college experience, “They saw my potential when I never did and pushed me out of my comfort zone when I needed it most.” The knowledge gained from these individuals and her passion for agriculture is evident to anyone she talks to, especially those who step foot into her classroom. — Written by Klae O’Brien

Kylee Fisher
Kylee Fisher

ASCL Alumna Spotlight

Amber Lannon graduated from the University of Idaho and the College of Southern Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science, communications and leadership and an associate’s degree in animal science. Although Lannon was not raised directly in the agricultural environment, she was always appreciative for the outdoors and all the recreation it gave way to.

Lannon originally planned on pursuing an undergraduate degree in kinesiology but found herself being drawn to an agricultural degree. “I valued how agriculture truly touches every single thing in our lives, clothes, food, manufacturing of millions of products, etc. It also connected with my passion for public lands and natural resources.” Lannon utilized the U of I and CSI 2+2 program, and was able to take a multitude of agricultural classes and finish her degree through U of I.

Lannon was able to connect her education and passion for the outdoors through an internship with the Bureau of Land Management as a contact representative in the Public Room of the Idaho State Office. Here she assisted with public mining claim permits, maps and numerous other recreational questions. Lannon says that this internship experience had an immense impact on her career readiness, “I was able to begin my professional career while finishing my degree. Upon graduation I didn’t feel lost with the, ‘what now?’ question. I had tools in my belt and a foundation of support from those that I worked with.” After graduation, she was offered an administrative assistant in the Shoshone Field office.

Lannon is now a land law examiner with the Twin Falls District of BLM. With this position, Lannon assists the Lands and Realty program with pre-adjudicating rights-of-way applications, drafting letters to permit holders, and conducting research regarding public land policy and file history, along many other tasks. She also appreciates the historical aspect of her job; some of the files are decades old and still relevant to her work today.

Lannon says she is an Idahoan through and through and cannot imagine living anywhere else. She appreciates the diversity and beauty that Idaho has to offer. — Written by Klae O’Brien

Amber Lannon
Amber Lannon

Virtual AEE UIdaho Bound

The AEE department has continued to stay connected to both current and incoming students through the move online and statewide shutdowns. On April 17, AEE faculty, Matt Doumit and Maggie Elliott from the CALS Academic Programs office, and current students hosted incoming students to answer questions about the university and assist in registration. This online experience may have been different than meeting in-person on campus, but it provided students with an opportunity to connect and develop relationships to stay connected. We’re excited to meet our incoming fall 2020 students.

A note from the editors

We hope this newsletter finds all members of the Vandal Family doing well as we prepare for a new semester. Although the students’ time in Moscow was cut short last semester, we will always cherish the time we spend at the University of Idaho. Go Vandals!

This newsletter is supervised by Sarah Bush, Ph.D.

Klae O’Brien, Lynnsey Tracy and Tessa Taylor.
Klae O’Brien (left) is a graduate student in the Agricultural and Extension Education Department, Lynnsey Tracy (middle) is a junior studying ASCL and Tessa Taylor (right) is a freshman studying ASCL.


Department of Agricultural & Extension Education

Physical Address:
Agricultural & Extension Education Building, Room 102
1134 West 6th Street

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2040
Moscow, ID 83844-2040

Phone: 208-885-6358

Fax: 208-885-4039