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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, March 2018

March 2018

Stepping into Spring with a Growth Mindset

New Initiatives in agricultural and extension education

These are exciting times for AEE at the University of Idaho. Two major initiatives are on the table this year that will greatly benefit students across the great state of Idaho.

The Agricultural Science, Communication and Leadership (ASCL) program will be greatly expanded in 2018. The department is currently searching for a new faculty member to provide state-wide direction for the ASCL program. A new minor, agricultural science, communication and leadership, will also be listed starting in the fall of 2018. We have also initiated discussions with administrators at the College of Eastern Idaho (CEI) and University of Idaho, Idaho Falls about expanding the program to students in eastern Idaho. Related to this, AEE faculty are working with the Division of Career and Technical Education to develop a new career pathway in Agricultural Science, Communication and Leadership for secondary agriculture students across the state. This will also include a new dual credit course in ASCL. The goal is to create a gateway for students interested in this field.

In the teacher education area, the department is working with the administrators at Brigham Young University-Idaho to develop new educational opportunities for BYU-Idaho students. Three new programs are being proposed: a 2+2 transfer program, certification-only, and master’s + certification program. These programs would target BYU-Idaho agriculture majors who have a career interest in teaching secondary agriculture.

All of these programs have the potential to significantly impact Agricultural Science, Communication and Leadership throughout Idaho. We look forward to seeing the impact they will make to our state and region.

Go Vandals!

Jim Connors


Jim Connors, Department Head
Department of Agricultural and Extension Education


Finishing His Marathon

Written by Maggie Elliot

Erik AndersonErik Anderson, Extension professor, of the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education will retire in May after a career characterized by the relentless ability to seize opportunities to grow his aptitudes and ultimately contribute to the advancement of extension education and distance learning programs. 

Erik has always sought new adventures to refine his talents or learn new skills. He’s worked in video production at South Dakota State University, performed cable operations in Twin Falls and served as both a distance learning and communication specialist for CALS. Within his role as Extension professor, Erik has worked as an advocate for online and distance education, and aided faculty in disseminating research.

A California native nurturing a fascination for film and video, Erik was drawn to the scenic beauty of the Pacific Northwest and studied telecommunications at the University of Idaho as an undergraduate.

“When I was a teenager we moved from Oakland to Los Angeles, and I didn’t care for the urban area. I knew big Hollywood wasn’t for me.” He decided to explore other avenues of video production, and when he was offered a summer internship with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, he took it on a whim. In this role he worked to publicize agricultural research, and soon realized the potential film held for educational and outreach approaches. He found he could harness his innate curiosity to learn and convey complex scientific topics by preparing videos and utilizing other communication strategies to appeal to a public audience.

Although Erik may not have extensive technical expertise in one research area, his insight as a communication specialist has been instrumental in the effective dissemination of research. “I’m a generalist, and see myself as a moderator between the researcher and audience, helping to expose expertise. The work our faculty produces is incredible, and deserves to be brought to the public eye.”

Erik has served as an advocate for distance learning, opening the door for a broader reaching educational system. One of his roles at the university has been to advise faculty in creating quality online courses. “Online classes necessitate a different approach to teaching,” said Erik. “I often say preparing an online class is more similar to writing a book rather than organizing a traditional lecture.”

As a distance education specialist, he has been a proponent of integrating videos of different locations in classrooms. “So much has changed in video since I started,” Erik said. “Today the quality of is phenomenal and it’s relatively user friendly, which translates to an abundance of benefits for students.”

Not only has Erik sought to modernize educational platforms for students, but also for extension agents. “Extension in the U.S. has such a unique structure. While it responds quickly to the needs of a community, it is rather slow to adapt to technology.” His work to advance extension education into the modern age is a personal achievement close to his heart. Throughout his 28 years of service at the University of Idaho, Erik has navigated the technologically evolving field of video production, adapting education methods to maximize student learning and communication strategies to resonate with the public.

What’s next for Erik Anderson? “I think of retirement like commencement. It’s the start of something new, a different and exciting adventure.”


The following list of students were selected as department winners and will be our nominees for their respective award categories at the college level. We feel very fortunate to have many outstanding students in our department

  • Outstanding First Year Student — Bethany Newtson
  • Outstanding Sophomore — Bishal Thapa
  • Outstanding Junior — Liz Bumstead
  • Outstanding Senior — Maggie Elliot

Collegiate FFA Update

Written by Liz Bumstead

Collegiate FFA (CFFA) is committed and passionate about serving the local communities on the Palouse by conducting a variety of different projects throughout the year. Annual service projects include a highway clean up, making blankets for patients at Gritman Medical Center and raising money for Heifer International.

This fall, 12 members ventured out to the CFFA highway section of Highway 8, just outside of Troy, to clean up two miles of roadside. In December, members got together during dead week to tie and donate 12 blankets to the local hospital. During the fall banquet, members and guests helped raise over $260 dollars, enough money to purchase a water buffalo and a flock of poultry for a family in need.

In addition to these projects, CFFA strives to incorporate different activities during each month’s chapter meeting. In September, CFFA hosted a fundraiser to assist agricultural education programs affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, raising over $150 overall. At the February chapter meeting, CFFA hosted an event called “Letters of Love” where members wrote thank you cards and assembled gift baskets that were then distributed throughout the college. “I think we realize how central community support was to our own experiences growing up,” said senior Maggie Elliot. “CFFA members have all been the recipient of a generous donation of money or time from community members, and see it as our responsibility to give back.”

For 2018, CFFA has many service projects already planned including the annual projects and more. CFFA Community Service Chair, Makenna Ellinghaus, is very excited to kick off another great year of service, “I am very excited to see what we will accomplish with our annual projects, as well as start to implement some new ideas into our chapter meetings.”

CFFA highway cleanup

Professional Development 

Using experiential learning to help students understand STEM

Contributed by Assistant Professor Kasee Smith

Agricultural education is built on a foundation of learning by doing. Researchers have concluded that students are more likely to learn and retain abstract concepts, like many of the concepts in STEM fields, if they learn them in an experiential manner. The structure of agricultural education makes an agriculture classroom the perfect environment to help students gain STEM knowledge, you can use this structure to your advantage as you help students learn difficult STEM concepts. To fully benefit from using experiential learning to integrate STEM concepts, it is important to examine what experiential learning is, understand methods for strengthening experiential components in STEM lessons, and explore methods to use experiential learning to differentiate STEM instruction.

What is experiential learning?

Kolb suggests that there are four main components in the process of experiential learning. The following shows the four components of Kolb’s experiential learning model and what those might look like in an agricultural education classroom.

  • Abstract Conceptualization (learning by thinking) — Students reading or listening to a description of how a concept works and thinking through the new information.
  • Active Experimentation (learning by doing) — Allowing students to test their knowledge of a concept by applying it in another situation or setting.
  • Concrete Experience (learning by experiencing) — Students doing something tangible in order to learn how something works.
  • Reflective Observation (learning by watching) — Students thinking about how a concept applies to things they have previously experienced in their lives.

According to Kolb, people bring in new information through either concrete experience or abstract conceptualization and process information through either active experimentation or reflective observation. It is important to note that all four components are important to help students bring in and process information. Using experiential learning concepts is a good idea in all agricultural education courses, but is especially helpful when students are learning STEM concepts. STEM concepts are often complicated and can be highly abstract in nature. Often, students do not have a tangible reference to help them process these concepts into knowledge. Structuring STEM-based lessons using all four components of experiential learning gives students the opportunity to process abstract concepts, can increase student comprehension, and provides an easy way to improve the quality of your instruction.

When you build STEM lessons, using experiential learning theory can help you differentiate instruction and meet the needs of each student. Most education begins with teaching an abstract concept and then applying the concept to a set of problems or situation: we teach the material, then complete a lab to reinforce the concepts. The problem with this process is that not all students prefer to bring in information using abstract conceptualization. A simple switch in the sequence of instruction could make a large difference in student comprehension.

Students Spotlighted

Tyann TellefsonTyAnn Tellefson

Written by Maggie Elliot

TyAnn Tellefson is a freshman studying agricultural science, communication and leadership. TyAnn was raised on a Charolais and Angus cattle ranch in Warden, Washington, and spent her childhood attending and exhibiting at national livestock shows, which opened her eyes to the breadth of the industry. TyAnn was a member of the Ritzville FFA, where she enjoyed competing in CDEs such as Farm Business Management, Parliamentary Procedure and Agricultural Communications.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” — Thomas Edison

TyAnn was attracted to the ASCL degree because she enjoys using creativity to interact with the public. She grew up with a respect for professionals who advocate for agriculture, and now pursues a career where she can be an activist for the industry. On campus, TyAnn is a member of Block and Bridle, Student Idaho Cattle Association, Sigma Alpha sorority, and Collegiate FFA. She is employed at the university's beef barn to train cattle for shows. TyAnn’s favorite part of being a Vandal is the camaraderie. “I have felt welcomed by all the students and staff, and I know they will help me be successful here.” We welcome TyAnn as the newest member of the AEE communications team, and can’t wait to see what she contributes!

Jean ParrellaJean Parrella

Written by Maggie Elliot

Jean Parrella is a senior studying public relations with a minor in extension education. She grew up in Davis, California, surrounded by orchards, pastures of horses, sheep, goats, as well as rescue donkeys and llamas. With both of her parents working as entomologists, through her childhood she developed a respect and interest for the industry of agriculture.

Jean will pursue a career in agricultural communications, and chose to minor in extension education to expose herself to educational strategies and agricultural issues, broadening the scope of her communication abilities while learning about agricultural practices. Jean is currently working as the writing and digital media intern for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, writing feature stories and producing promotional videos for the college. She has been the first author of two columns for the Feed & Grain trade magazine, and is a member of the Public Relations and Strategic Communications club on campus.

Her favorite part of being a vandal is the interaction with faculty and staff. “Through my work as an intern, I have tremendously increased my storytelling and writing abilities, and the videography aspect has introduced me to an entirely new form of storytelling and Ag communications. My advisors in CALS advancement and professors in the AEE department have exposed me to opportunities I would not have had otherwise, and have truly inspired and prepared me for my future career.”

After graduation this spring, Jean plans to pursue a master’s degree in Ag communications, for the ultimate goal to be a communications specialist or public relations professional for an agricultural organization. We are excited to see what she will accomplish and wish her the best of luck as she strives to make a positive impact on the industry!

Meet Our Student Teachers

Chaney UptonChaney Upton — Genessee, Idaho

Q: What are you looking forward to?
A: Being able to take over classes and teach them by myself

RyAnn CarterRyAnna Carter — Nampa, Idaho

Q: Highlight of student teaching?
A: Going to the 212/360 conference with my students

Kyle NesbittKyle Nesbitt — Meridian, Idaho

Q: What is your favorite class?
A: Vet Science

David StittDavid Stitt — Kalispell, Montana

Q: What do you do on the weekends?
A: Ski, ice skate and explore Flathead Valley

Dan'a BorlandDan’a Borland — Reardan, Washington

Q: Highlight of student teaching?
A: Having parents tell me their student is loving my class!

Gabrielle JohnsonGabby Johnson — Tekoa, Washington

Q: Favorite part of student teaching?
A: The excitement my students have when they “get it!”

Jordan SmithJordan Smith — Buckley, Washington

Q: What is your go-to technology/app?
A: Google Classroom


Words from the Wise

Dan BillingtonDan Billington

At the last professional development seminar that my school district held, we began by introducing ourselves. We explained what we taught and the reason we chose to teach this one certain area. I said that I chose to become an agricultural educator because I felt that it is important for students to have an understanding of where their food came from and to take pride in any piece of work they produce, whether it is in a fabrication course or in floral design.

I grew up on my family’s beef cattle ranch in southern Idaho. At an early age, I was able to see that nothing would be handed to you and that hard work paid off. I still find it very rewarding today when I have a shy eighth grade student who wants nothing to do with what I teach due to their fear of speaking, and end up transforming them into a state officer, a member of a state winning CDE team or an advocate for agriculture.

I am employed by the Castleford School district, which is a very rural school in southern Idaho. The main focus at Castleford has always been to have a very strong animal science program. The Castleford community is extremely supportive of anything and everything that the FFA chapter has ever needed. This support helps ensure that the students who take my classes are able to use the skills from my class and apply them on their family’s farms, dairies or ranches.

JR Morrow with Joe VandalJ.R. Morrow

One of the highlights of an Ag teacher is watching the freshman as they file into your class the first week of school. As I start to work with these “newbies” I am doing more than just teaching them. I am instantly in recruitment mode trying to see what part of FFA would this freshman like and what part of FFA would that freshman like… etc. As these students progress through your program there is no better feeling than seeing a meek freshman turn into a chapter officer by the time they are a senior.

There are so many facets to FFA and if you try to include all of them at once you will burn out in a hurry. Picking one or two a year to incorporate or to concentrate on has really helped me stay focused. I have found that making good community contacts early in my career really helped me succeed and keep my sanity when things weren’t going in the direction I planned. Our program includes classes in fabrication, greenhouse, carpentry, CnC, leadership, small engines and an aquaculture lab.

Last but not least take time for yourself and your family. Find something you’re truly passionate about and make time to do that one thing that makes you happy.

From the editors

Maggie ElliottLiz BumsteadWith spring around the corner, we send our best wishes to the ever-growing Vandal family for each of you in your spring activities.

Liz Bumstead and Maggie Elliot are both majoring in agricultural science, communication and leadership. The newsletter is supervised by Jeremy Falk.


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