Guest Blog by Jessica Harsh
Photos provided by Sarah LaRose & AECGSA

AECGSA is the graduate student association within the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC). One of my favorite parts of AECGSA is the people who are associated with the group; it is truly like a family. The organization is advised by Drs. Laura Warner and CC Suarez, and there is also a mentorship program that pairs new students with an older student within your specialization.

I quickly came to find out that my mentor and I were like two peas in a pod. She showed me the ropes and served as a great support person throughout my first couple semesters at the University of Florida (UF) and as an AEC graduate student. The mentorship program is invaluable and something that makes the group unique and more personal.

While the organization sets a tone that helps build camaraderie through mentoring and social events like payday Friday dinners, AECGSA also encourages scholarship and leadership. We attend professional development seminars once per month, in which we have learned about topics like designing a research poster or taking a deeper look into our personality types.

Last, but certainly not least, AECGSA finds a way to make sure that we are still connected to agriculture. After all, we are the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication. We take part in various farm tours of Florida agriculture to stay engaged with the concerns and celebrations that Florida farmers are having.

AECGSA finds a way to build a home and a family in a department where many students are not from Florida. We push each other to become better leaders, scholars and human beings. It has been a blast for me to serve as the president of this group for the past two semesters.

AEC GSA students gather around the food for their annual "Hometown Feast," in which everyone brings a food or drink representing some aspect of what they consider to be home.

Graduate student Tiffany Rogers-Randolph presented to the rest of AECGSA about the basics of poster and presentation design to get ready for conference season.

AECGSA students stop to pose during one of their trips in Washington, D.C.