The Animal Agriculture Alliance announced the results of its seventh annual College Aggies Online (CAO) scholarship competition. The program is a nationwide initiative aimed at helping college students and collegiate agriculture clubs utilize social media and community engagement to share agriculture's story.

In the Individual division, the winners are:

• First place: Jessica Miller, Oklahoma State University, $2,500

• Second place: Jennifer Weinberg, George Washington University, $1,000

• Third place: Heather Abeita, New Mexico State University, $500

In the Student Organization division, the winners are:

• First place: Agriculture Club, Western Illinois University, $5,000

• Second place: Gator Collegiate CattleWomen, University of Florida, $2,500

• Third place: Sigma Alpha, University of Missouri, $1,000

In addition to the scholarship prizes, the top individuals and representatives from the winning organizations will receive a trip to the Alliance’s 2016 Stakeholders Summit in Washington, D.C. to be formally recognized.

CAO is an online competition open to all college students with an interest in agriculture. Since its launch in 2009, more than 4,000 college students from more than 175 different colleges and universities have competed in the program. The Alliance wishes to thank the 2015 College Aggies Program sponsors, which include Tyson Foods, Inc., Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), National Pork Industry Foundation, National Turkey Federation, United Soybean Board, Ohio Poultry Association, American Dairy Science Association, Belstra Milling Company and Pennsylvania Beef Council.

Each week, individual participants received assignments, called “Aggies Homework,” which focused on a specific social media platform or a segment of the agriculture community. This fall, CAO participants engaged with the public by utilizing Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, as well as by writing blog posts. Additionally, industry experts hosted webinars and served as program mentors to help educate participants about the pertinent issues facing the industry and how to communicate about those with the public.

Over the course of the competition, students generated over 1,530 Instagram and Twitter posts and over 530 Facebook posts. In total, there were over 1.4 million impressions on social media.

“Often, college is the first time that students are making food purchasing decisions on their own,” said Kay Johnson Smith, President and CEO of the Animal Agriculture Alliance. “Because of that, college students find themselves sorting through a deluge of information about food and agriculture, including the often confusing labels at the grocery store. We started CAO to provide college students with a passion for agriculture the tools they need to be confident communicators to engage their peers and influencers in their community on these important issues. We are thrilled with how the program continues to grow and develop.”

While the individual participants were assigned tasks week by week, participating clubs were able to pick and choose from a variety of challenges including teaching at local schools, hosting an Agriculture Day event on their college campus or hosting a food drive in advance of the holiday season.

“The participants in the College Aggies Online program bring credible voices into the discussion of agriculture, often just by telling others about their own personal experiences.” said Annetta Tirey, Tyson Foods, Inc. “Our goal in partnering with the program is to help them share this important perspective and make sure the real story of agriculture is amplified.”

To see pictures and highlights from the club competitors, visit the CAO Facebook page. Special thanks to our generous sponsors for their support, allowing us to reward these hard working students for their achievements, and to our other program partners. For more information about the contest, or to become a sponsor of next year’s competition, contact Morgan Hawley, program manager, at

Source: Animal Agriculture Alliance