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The Hoot, Spring 2024

Faculty Update

As the weather warms and we see the hills begin to turn green in Moscow, we are excited for the new beginnings in our department. Spring 2024 brings new faces, new projects and new opportunities for our department. Jan. 8 marked the first day on campus for Don Edgar and Keith Frost. Both hit the ground running, taking courses and service appointments in their first few days on the job.

Edgar is instructing the ASM 107 Beginning Welding course along with AGED 450 Leading People and Teams. He is planning to help lead the agricultural education and agricultural sales CDEs for Idaho FFA State Convention and has already begun preparations for the agricultural mechanics CDE this June.

Frost took on the role as instructor for the AGED 451 Communicating in Agriculture course and is serving FFA members as the superintendent for the agricultural issues, parliamentary procedure and agriscience fair events at state convention. He also plans to provide leadership on agricultural issues and agricultural communications CDEs in June.

Even though the faculty number has doubled, we are still looking to expand with new faculty to provide technical agricultural communications courses for our agricultural science, communication and leadership major.

Spring also brings new beginnings for the AELC students who will graduate in May. We are proud of this group of students who are ready to begin their next journey.

We are grateful for the support provided to our students by stakeholders and look forward to new opportunities in the future. We continue to grow in enrollment, providing high-impact experiences and creating both skills and memories that will last a lifetime. You can contribute to our efforts through a much-appreciated donation on Vandal Giving Day, April 2-3.

Go Vandals!

By the Numbers

Spring 2024 Graduates

  • AGED: 9
  • ASCL: 8
  • M.S. Ag Ed: 5

People in our department this semester

  • AGED majors: 56
  • ASCL majors: 42
  • M.S. Ag Ed students: 18
  • Faculty: 4
  • Staff: 3

Hours spent this semester

  • AGED seniors teaching in high schools: 5,040
  • ASCL internship work: 4,580
  • Faculty in undergrad classes: 456

Our Stories

A woman leaning against a red brick post with the letter I carved into it.

Maggie Hammon

Originally from southern Idaho, Hammon finds herself back home embarking on her career.

Maggie Hammon graduated from the University of Idaho in 2023 with a bachelor's in agricultural science, communication and leadership. Hammon's educational path began at the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) where she embarked on her academic journey with an open mind and a thirst for knowledge. It wasn't long before she realized her passion lay in the fields of agricultural science, communication and leadership. With a keen eye for prospects, she seized upon the opportunity presented by the 2+2 degree program offered jointly by U of I, CSI and the College of Western Idaho (CWI).

This program allowed Hammon to complete her first two years of undergraduate study at the CSI campus, laying a solid foundation in her chosen field. The program is flexible, enabling students like Hammon to seamlessly transition to the U of I's upper-division courses at a distance without the need to uproot from her community in Twin Falls.

During her senior year, she made the pivotal decision to immerse herself in a new environment, relocating to Moscow to complete her degree. Here, she took advantage of an opportunity to intern at the Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC), an experience she describes as both challenging and rewarding. Her time at the ApHC provided valuable insights into the world of marketing and further fueled her passion for agricultural communications.

After graduating from U of I, Hammon embarked on a new journey, this time venturing to the Idaho Falls area to pursue her passion for cowboy culture. This experience not only allowed her to further hone her skills but also provided a glimpse into the diverse opportunities available within the agricultural industry.

Hammon recently secured a full-time position as a merchandiser assistant in client relations at The Scoular Company, a leading commodities group based in Twin Falls.

Her journey from community college student to corporate professional is a testament to her unwavering determination and willingness to explore all the options available to her. In reflecting on her journey, Hammon offers this advice to students: "Get involved, step out of your comfort zone, try something new, meet new people and most importantly, stay involved."

Hammon uses this mantra to remember to embrace every opportunity that comes her way. Her actions prove she can use each experience as a steppingstone toward her goals.

A woman with two horses drinking out of a creek.
A portrait of a man with a black background.

Keith Frost

The AELC department is excited to announce that Keith Frost joined the department in January 2024. Frost accepted a position to teach courses related to teacher preparation in agricultural education. Frost has a passion for agricultural education and leadership and is well-versed in all aspects of our department. This spring, he took on the role of instructing the AGED 450 Communicating in Agriculture course.

Frost grew up in Central Point, Oregon, taught high school agricultural education for nine years and served as a teacher educator at Texas A&M Commerce starting in 2019.

Frost completed his doctorate at Texas Tech where he instructed courses related to agricultural teacher preparation. Frost has extensive experience working with career and leadership development events through FFA. He owned a CNC machine shop and assisted with numerous agricultural mechanics shows throughout Texas.

Frost wants stakeholders to know that he is here to listen, learn and work with you. He hopes to develop a partnership that is mutually beneficial.

Outside of his time professionally, Frost enjoys exploring the regions that he lives in. He especially enjoys seeing what good restaurants are in the area. He also enjoys music and has started learning how to play the banjo.

When asked what he is looking forward to in his new role, Frost said, “I am excited to work with great students and teachers in Idaho. This is a dream opportunity to work alongside great faculty, a production-centered college of agriculture and a state rooted in agriculture.”


  • April 2-3 — Vandal Giving Day
  • April 3-6 — Idaho FFA State Convention
  • May 11 — University of Idaho Commencement
  • June 4-7 — Idaho FFA State CDES
A group photo of women.
Amy Heikkila, Rachel Lyman, Aislyn King, Jesse Alspaugh, Madi Weber, Madi Passmore

CFFA Corner

As the CFFA officer team, we are proud to say that CFFA has come back stronger than ever this year and we want to share the opportunities we have embarked on. There has been member growth within our chapter, and we have expanded in areas of community service and member involvement. We promote CFFA as a community of college students that have a common passion for agricultural education and agriculture as an industry that wants to give back to the community.

Being involved in CFFA this year presented us with many opportunities for areas of growth in community service, membership activities and involvement with high school FFA chapters. We are excited to talk about each of these aspects and how this year turned into a year of opportunities and growth.

We believe that the main value of CFFA resides in giving back to the community. Recently, we packaged gifts for senior residents, which included painting succulent pots and putting plants in them as well as painting notebooks with positive messages written inside them. Seeing the positive impact that our service projects have on members of the community makes us want to continue to do our due diligence and further provide our time to helping many more groups and members of the community in the future.

Being more involved with high school FFA chapters is a priority for our collegiate chapter. Giving back to our FFA roots and foundations is something that we truly enjoy and strive to do more of. This year, CFFA members helped host and judge district competitions and plan to keep being of service in the development of younger students as they navigate this amazing organization. We are also sending members of our chapter to Idaho FFA State Convention to present workshops and tabling to interact with the future generations of agriculture.

We have been blessed to be able to provide the resources and products to serve our community and give our members opportunities that allow them to grow. We are excited to continue to keep providing these products and resources in the future. We hope that our organization is an inspiration to not only our students but to all stakeholders.

Student Spotlight & 2024 Graduates

Each year, we are pleased to recognize the work of students who are graduating with undergraduate degrees in agricultural science, communication and leadership and agricultural education. In May, 15 students will graduate from the department with an undergraduate degree and eight will graduate with their master’s degree in agricultural education. Each has completed an internship experience as part of their journey. Join us in congratulating these individuals for their hard work in earning a degree.

Course Connection

The AGED 301 undergraduate research course provides CALS students with opportunities to conduct and analyze research. Each semester, students choose topics, design research, collect data and analyze data for dissemination.

This year, students chose which research project and data from last year they wanted to analyze.

I am grateful for the opportunity to enroll in this course last fall. I learned multiple aspects of the research process. As our course project, Gracelyn Boren and I examined the levels of interaction with different types of social media posts.

Our role included analyzing the data collected by previous undergraduate researchers, analyzing data and writing conclusions and implications for the research. This process was time-consuming but rewarding as we gained additional research skills. We can present our findings next fall at a regional research conference, which we are excited about.

In discussing our time as undergraduate researchers, we both confirm that taking AGED 301 was a huge benefit for the research we might conduct in the future. Boren said, “This class was a great resource for anyone interested in learning more about how the research process works.” — Author Hannah Stolfus

A group photo of men and women.

Carrying Leadership Forward

Everyone in the AELC department is committed to fostering and guiding leadership development. Student leaders are prevalent throughout our department. Cody Carlon, a freshman studying agricultural education, developed a strong passion for agriculture at a young age. She found a love for animal agriculture in the local county 4-H program raising market hogs. She joined her high school’s FFA chapter in Washington then relocated to American Falls where she began her own beef cattle operation. Carlon assumed numerous leadership roles in FFA and contributed to several national-winning teams. Carlon found a home in the AELC department and now finds herself in various leadership positions — the Student Idaho Cattle Association (SICA), Collegiate Young Farmers and Ranchers (CYF&R), Block and Bridle and serving on the Sigma Alpha standards board. Carlon said, "Participating in leadership roles during high school empowered me to embrace stepping out of my comfort zone and seizing new opportunities. These experiences have primed me to approach college with an open mind and readiness to explore unfamiliar territory."

Kenzie Barta, a freshman from Cheney, Washington, is majoring in agricultural science, communication and leadership. She grew up surrounded by agriculture and assisted her parents in managing a busy feedlot. Barta also took on various roles at a grain elevator, served as an assistant to the secretary for her father's company, Ag Enterprise, and worked at the local feed store, Basin Feed. Through these diverse experiences, she not only gained a deeper understanding of agriculture but also honed her skills in customer service and communications.

At U of I, Barta is continuing her journey as a leader by actively participating in organizations such as Collegiate FFA (CFFA), Block and Bridle and SICA. She had the opportunity to attend the Idaho Cattle Association convention with SICA in November 2023. Barta said, "Leadership experiences in high school opened me up to connections within the Agricultural Education, Leadership and Communications Department. The connections I forged have been instrumental in my success both academically and personally during my college journey."

Alyvia Moffis, a junior from Melba, discovered her passion for agriculture through her involvement in Melba FFA and serving as a rodeo director in high school. In FFA, she held roles as secretary and vice president, demonstrating her passion for leadership. Moffis also actively participated in sports and took on committee roles within the school community. Transitioning into the AELC department, Moffis has continued to flourish as a leader. She is involved in CYF&R and holds the position of vice president in her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. Moffis worked for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture during the summer of 2023 as a public information officer intern. She said, "The leadership experiences I have gone through helped me grow into the person that I am today. I have learned the value of hard work and discipline. I have grown in many ways, without the Agricultural Education, Leadership and Communications Department, I would not have these opportunities."

Anna Cooper, a freshman from Finley, Washington, has a passion for agriculture stemming from her involvement in 4-H. Her dedication to educating others led her to join our department. In high school, Cooper excelled in sports, playing volleyball and softball while serving as the Associated Student Body (ASB) president. She also held the secretary position in the Finely FFA chapter. Cooper continues to thrive as a leader at U of I. She serves as the leadership chair for Sigma Alpha and actively participates in CFFA on the community service committee. Cooper said, "Participating in the agricultural education CDE during high school provided me with a valuable head start and enriched my expertise in the fields of agricultural education, leadership and communications, laying a strong foundation for my future career.”

Students' diverse backgrounds and experiences enhance the AELC department. Faculty and members work together to create an inclusive environment where everyone can develop their leadership potential. The future for students in the department looks bright. We are committed to further expanding and enhancing our ability to serve our students and the agricultural community better. To continue this mission, plans include increasing the number of faculty, improving facilities, providing more resources and expertise to support our students' growth and success. With the help of those who invest their time and finances in our department, we can shape the future of agriculture and continue to make a positive impact on our communities.

A group of men and women standing on stone steps.

Ambassador Program

Student ambassadors help inspire the next generation of Vandals, this is one of their stories. — guest author Jenna Whitaker

I still remember the first time I heard about the University of Idaho. I was a sophomore in high school and U of I CALS Ambassadors visited my school for the day. College was the last thing on my mind. I was more worried about what I was going to have for lunch that day but despite my indifference, their presentation planted a seed. I saw the pride U of I students had to be Vandals. I wanted to experience a community like that. Now, I am a junior at U of I studying agricultural science, communication and leadership. In a full circle moment, I decided to apply to serve as a CALS ambassador last year.

Established with the goal of fostering leadership, recruiting prospective students and establishing involvement in the community, the CALS Ambassadors program is an integral part of the university's outreach efforts. Our team has representatives from each CALS department which creates a vibrant community of individuals. Our team has visited approximately 900 high school and middle school students just this year. For three consecutive years, CALS has had its largest incoming freshman classes in history. I have been an ambassador for just over a year and I already recognize the incredible impact this program has on the college.

A few weeks ago, I traveled with a fellow team member to Connell, Washington to complete my first high school visit. I plugged in my flash drive, pulled up the presentation and proceeded to give the same speech six times over. Sounds boring, right? It was anything but. I had some amazing conversations with students from several different backgrounds. I recognize that some of those students won’t end up at U of I or have a career in agriculture. For those that will, I planted that seed, just as previous ambassadors did for me.

The ambassador team doesn’t just recruit, we also serve. This fall, the college hosted its annual CALS Days event on the Moscow campus. High school students from all around the region traveled to Moscow for the weekend. While here, they had the opportunity to take tours of on-campus farms and facilities, participate in livestock and dairy judging and spend two nights in the Student Recreation Center (SRC). The ambassadors were behind it all. Running check-in, driving students around and corralling the students in the SRC.

On a personal level, the ambassador program is preparing me for a career in agricultural communications. I am taking classes within the AELC department to supply me with educational information and skills. Being an ambassador allows me to implement that information through practical experience. I am actively building confidence in my communication, teamwork and leadership skills at every event where I wear my CALS ambassador nametag.

The CALS ambassadors serve as the face of CALS, bridging the gap between the university and the broader community. We educate, recruit and serve. The CALS Ambassador program isn't just about showcasing the college — it's about cultivating a sense of responsibility, leadership and a shared commitment to the values that define CALS. I am proud to be part of a community dedicated to building a bridge to higher education, fostering connections and telling the compelling story of agriculture at U of I.

Agricultural educators: If you are interested in having members of the CALS Ambassador team come to visit your high school, please reach out to Kacie Hoffman at

Come to Moscow, See the World

The Vandal experience is second to none. Students are exposed to endless opportunities that help them grow as students and individuals. With access to state-of-the-art facilities and expert faculty, students gain practical skills, foster innovation and learn how to educate and advocate for the agricultural industry. This experience is no different in the AELC department. One-way AELC students can expand their horizons is through international and domestic travel opportunities that expose them to global agricultural needs and better prepare them to be the educators and advocates of tomorrow.

One of these opportunities is the Global Orientation to Agricultural Learning (GOALs) program facilitated through a USDA Higher Education challenge grant and coordinated by Kasee Smith. This program is a year-long cohort experience that allows students to participate in three immersive experiences: the World Food Prize and Borlaug Dialogues in Des Moines, Iowa, a week-long teaching immersion during March and a 10-day trip to Belize in May.

The program focuses on developing skills to teach high school students about global food security issues. GOALs allow participants to partner with students from Penn State and the 1890’s Land Grant universities as they teach students in the U.S. and Belize about challenges with the global food supply.

Following her experience at the Borlaug Dialogues Rachel Lyman said, “Food security is a major issue, not only in the U.S., but across the world and I think that every classroom, whether it be an agriculture, science or history class, should have a lesson about food security and global agriculture.”

The 2023-24 cohort will be the first to experience Belize, where they can enhance their view on agriculture internationally.

In addition to GOALs, AELC offers other international travel opportunities through the AGED 407 course. As a part of the course, students study their chosen country, analyze the culture and markets and examine how those affect agricultural practices.

This year, four sections of the class explored different countries: Spain, Taiwan, Mexico and Ireland. Each of the students traveled to their respective countries over spring break and have returned to Moscow to compare their experience to their initial research. Makenna Dewitt, a junior studying agricultural education from Homedale, said, “Upon returning from Ireland, it was great to see agriculture in a new country being able to compare it to our own. The similarities I noticed and the differences I was able to learn gave me a great appreciation for American agriculture. Student opportunities for international trips like this provide new chances to see the bigger picture and find a spot where we can advocate for this industry.”

The AELC department is proud to offer opportunities for students to gain an understanding of the world around them and apply that knowledge. We are grateful for all who provide the resources to make these experiences possible for our students. We can’t wait to watch our students use these experiences to grow as agricultural educators and advocates.

Teacher Tips

Being a member of the Idaho Agricultural Teachers Association (IATA) is a fantastic opportunity for agricultural educators to develop connections with colleagues across the state and a critical part of staying connected to a team of colleagues who can help agricultural educators succeed.

Shane Wetzel, agricultural educator at Homedale High School, is currently serving as the president of IATA. He said IATA “...functions much like the FFA chapter for agricultural educators.” He added that teachers' roles are better performed as a group.

Agricultural educators can participate in workshops through IATA to become better teachers and pursue professional development opportunities. Wetzel greatly appreciates the knowledge he has gained, which has greatly benefited his career.

Wetzel also spoke about the many relationships he developed with agricultural educators.

“At any moment, you can pick up the phone and ask another ag teacher about a situation, and you can always expect good advice or encouragement, something I greatly benefited from during my early years,” he said.

Wetzel has been an agricultural educator for 24 years, the last 10 of which have been in the Gem State.

After many years of learning and growing from other ag teachers through IATA, he decided to serve in a more leadership-oriented role.

“I have decided to take a larger role now in IATA because I have benefited from so many others that have served. I took all the benefits from those before me and only gave IATA a few minutes of my time during Ag Teachers Conference every summer,” he said. “It was my turn to use my experience and time to give back to an organization that provides so much to all ag teachers who are willing to take advantage of its professional development opportunities.”

He became IATA President-elect in 2022 and served for a year before the president’s gavel was passed down in June 2023. As president, Wetzel represents IATA in numerous opportunities throughout the year. Some of those opportunities include traveling to the national agricultural education in-service, representing Idaho in various meetings and gathering and advocating for teachers statewide to the Idaho State Division of Career Technical Education. Additionally, he works with his officer team to plan state meetings.

Wetzel encourages anyone involved with agricultural education to become a member of IATA and reap the benefits of participating in such a fantastic organization.

“There are so many ways for agricultural educators to connect to and share ideas and resources. Being an IATA member is by far the best way to do that in Idaho,” he said.

Donor Spotlight

The AELC department is honored to introduce Annette Weeks, an agricultural educator at Prairie High School as our spring donor spotlight.

Weeks is from Gresham, Oregon and graduated with a bachelor’s (‘95) and master’s (‘01) from U of I, as well as an education master’s (‘02) from Idaho State University. She has been teaching for 25 years.

When asked why she chose the agricultural education profession, Weeks said, “I grew up in 4-H and FFA and loved agriculture. My mother was also an elementary school teacher and through that I eventually learned that I wanted to put my passion for agriculture and respect for teaching together and become an agricultural educator myself.”

Weeks manages a 4,300 square foot greenhouse at Prairie High School. Her time in the greenhouse allows her to share her teaching expertise by providing hands-on experiences to her students while giving them the opportunity to problem solve. She also teaches natural resources, plant science and greenhouse management.

Getting to know Weeks and who she is explains why she is a respected agricultural educator and supporter of the AELC department. When asked what gives her fulfillment, Weeks said that she loves seeing accomplishment with her own personal goals and even her student’s goals in education.

Additionally, outdoor photography is an activity that makes her feel fulfilled since she gets to capture natural beauty. Things Weeks likes to do for fun include going to the beach, hiking, walking races and taking care of a new puppy at home.

She chose to donate to U of I because she was taught to always give back to those who give to you. She hopes that her donation will accomplish goals like getting students to conferences including the National Association of Agricultural Educators regional and national meetings. She hopes to see junior and senior students be able to travel and gain professional organizational experiences with their education.

Some words of wisdom that Weeks lives by and would like to share with current students are, “take advantage of all the opportunities,” “keep on keeping on” and “make today the best day ever.”

A photo of a woman and man with a waterfall in the background.

Vandal Giving Day — April 2 & 3

The AELC department provides students with high impact experiences that push them toward future success. We recognize that this effort takes a village, and we are thankful for our many committed partners. Investment in our department looks different for each person investing their time, knowledge and monetary value. We want to invite you into this process through Vandal Giving Day. This event allows our department to receive funds directly through a user-friendly online platform.

Note from the Editors

This newsletter is an artifact of student learning. As members of the “ag comm squad,” we manage the outreach and social media for the department, including creating this newsletter. Thank you for being a valuable part of our journey as we gained copywriting, editing and journalism skills. We are proud to share both our learning and department with you.

Many thanks go out to our readers of The Hoot and those who choose to invest in our department. Our team is committed to bringing you meaningful stories and highlights that are directly related to our department. As we stay true to this commitment, we are also dedicated to growing as young professionals. Each editor of The Hoot is a current student in the AELC department. We take pride in our work and hope that it is a blessing to you. Thank you for blessing us in all you do for our department. Many thanks to Kasee Smith, Sarah Swenson and Amy Calabretta for their supervision of this newsletter.


University of Idaho

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



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