“You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

-Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

What happens when you graduate? Degree in hand, anxious, excited and ready to tackle every obstacle, graduation can be an iconic moment for you. On the other hand, maybe you are still unsure which direction to steer yourself. Years of your life have been spent in classrooms, internships, and student organization meetings so that you can obtain that coveted diploma. But, what is next?

At the University of Florida, October kicks off with a Homecoming football game. Students and alumni cheer on their Gators and celebrate through the Gator Growl, a parade and other festivites to show off the Gator spirit that runs through each person. Therefore, AEC chose October to ask some of our alumni, "Where did you take your degree?"

Our alumni have landed themselves across the world to become the best Communi-Gators and Edu-Gators in the field. Many of them had some advice to offer up as well. Take a look for yourself!

Travis Park

Associate Professor, Undergraduate Coordinator for Agricultural Education, North Carolina State University

Degree: Ph.D., 2005

Specialization: Agricultural Education

"In my current career, I use all of the research and teaching courses from UF. Basically, everything that I do leans heavily upon my UF education and my experiences as a high school agriculture teacher in Indiana. The research courses at UF prepared me to secure grant funding, publish widely, and be promoted and tenured at Cornell University, prior to coming to NC State."

Christy Chiarelli

Senior Director of Development, UF/IFAS Advancement

Degrees: B.S., 2007; M.S., 2009

Specializations: Communication and Leadership Development, Agricultural Communication

"I use my skills from AEC every day. Whether through writing a gift concept paper for a donor, reviewing press releases for gifts, or creating design strategies for donor-focused communication materials. Not only do I use my technical skills, but as I advance in my career, I use interpersonal leadership skills often. I feel l am a better leader because AEC equipped me to understand how to build teams of people and how truly lead instead of manage."

Matt Benge

Assistant Professor, UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural Education and Communication

Degrees: M.S., 2009; Ph.D., 2015

Specialization: Extension Education

"I’ve used the skills I learned from AEC both as an Extension agent and an Assistant Professor. AEC gave a strong foundation to be a successful Extension agent, such as understanding youth and adult learners, creating and evaluating educational programs, and leadership. As an Assistant Professor, I not only use these skills in my day-to-day job but I’m also teaching others the same theories and information I learned as a student."

Marlene (von Stein) Eick

Co-Owner of Herdmark Media and Founder of Live Your Story

Degree: M.S., 2008

Specialization: Leadership Development

"Herdmark Media serves brands and businesses in agriculture by creating photos, videos, and content that help them tell the story of agriculture. As one of the owners, I oversee many of the behind-the-scenes operational and financial aspects of the business, while my teammates perform the day-to-day tasks with our company’s clients.

Live Your Story: While I’ve been speaking and providing training for quite awhile, I’ve formally launched a second business to further advance those efforts. I offer success coaching and retreat programs for Millennial women in agriculture. Right now, I’m the entire company!"

Janyel Taylor

Agriscience Teacher, Lakewood Ranch High School

Degree: B.S., 2012

Specialization: Agricultural Education

"If you want to be an agricultural educator, being a part of the AEC department truly prepares you for your career as an agriculture educator. One major skill I learned was how to develop quality lesson plans with varying activities and labs to ensure students are engaged and learning. Agricultural education focuses on learning by doing, so developing hands-on activities for students to grasp agricultural concepts is extremely important. One of the most beneficial experiences through AEC was definitely the internship. Teaching for a semester allows you to learn the ropes of teaching and apply what you have learned while still having professors and a supervising teacher there to provide feedback along the way. The internship prepares you for your future career and also how to interview for job position after graduation."

Becky Raulerson

Lecturer, UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural Education and Communication

Degrees: B.S., 1998; M.S., 2000

Specializations: Agricultural Communication, Agricultural Education

"I currently teach two undergraduate courses in both the fall and spring in the AEC Department. I am an academic advisor for 25-30 undergraduates at any given time, and I spend most of my time in the summer helping to coordinate the Florida Youth Institute for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. I also serve as the advisor for the Sigma Alpha chapter here at UF. I began a PhD program (part time) in agricultural communication in August 2017."

Erica (Der) Hall 

Director of Major Gifts, Florida Baptist Children's Homes, Orphan's Heart and The Porch Light

Degree: B.S., 2008

Specialization: Communication and Leadership Development

"AEC taught me that what we say, and how we say it, truly matters. The department equipped me with the ability to communicate through writing, photography, videography and social media in a way that is both professional an engaging. From writing techniques to collaborating with a team, I utilize the skills I obtained from AEC on a daily basis. The coursework I experienced was both rigorous and relevant and I highly recommend the AEC department to all those who are seeking the highest level of educational opportunities."

Adam Basford

Director of State Legislative Affairs, Florida Farm Bureau Federation

Degree: M.S., 2004

Specialization: Agricultural Communication

"In my job I have to be effective at both deciphering and delivering messages.  I rely on both the theoretical knowledge and the practical application I was able to get through AEC to help me do that."

Avery LeFils

Marketing Coordinator, Village Farms

Degree: B.S., 2011

Specialization: Communication and Leadership Development

"I use the skills learned in AEC every day. Messaging is a large part of my job and being able to recognize consumer trends and react accordingly is vital. The most important skill I learned in AEC was how to identify different personality traits allowing me to adjust my communication methods to maximize the effectiveness of our messaging."

Sarah Edison

Communications Assistant, CropLife America

Degree: B.S., 2017

Specialization: Communication and Leadership Development

"I work in the communications department to help develop material for the current communication campaigns CropLife America was running. I help create content for CropLife Foundation to include on their social media and newsletters. I also worked closely with the government relations department to create a new newsletter and organize the D.C. Agricultural Intern Network."

Kara Harders

Small Acreage Management (SAM) Extension Specialist, Colorado State University Extension and NRCS/USDA

Degree: M.S., 2017

Specialization: Agricultural Communication

"The time management skills I sharpened while in AEC have been incredibly helpful in this role. I also find myself using communication theories when trying to identify the best way to teach subjects or convince a person to re-evaluate their goals/practices."

Sarah DeLoach

Crop Insurance Agent, Farm Credit of Florida, ACA

Degree: B.S., 2011

Specialization: Communication and Leadership Development

"I work in the Financially Related Services Department for Farm Credit of Florida, ACA, helping farmers mitigate risks to their crop(s) through Multi-Peril Crop Insurance Programs. AEC helped me develop employability and personal skills that help communicate my message and connect with consumers."

Kristin Lawrence

Proposal, Contracts & Communications Manager, A-C-T Envrionmental & Infrastructure, Inc.

Degrees: B.S., 2001; M.S., 2002

Specialization: Agricultural Communication

"I review opportunities from multiple public and private sector clients and prospects, and organize responsive, concise, accurate submittal packages. This includes writing and editing content, creating graphics, organizing and collecting technical information, tracking activities related to opportunities in the organization's management system, and ensuring deadline-driven proposal delivery. 

I also serve as the communications manager and one-stop production shop - writing, editing, branding, messaging, developing collateral, social media messaging, photography, and all other internal and external communications, marketing and public relations initiatives."

Musa K. Farmand, Jr.

Associate Attorney, DLA Piper

Degree: B.S., 2010

Specialization: Communication and Leadership Development

"AEC helped me develop, critique and improve my emotional intelligence and social communication skills, especially with regard to dealing with fellow associates, partners and clients."