Kestlyn Willert

Kestlyn Willert

Thank you so much for this scholarship. As a student, this scholarship will help reduce financial pressure greatly and allow me to focus more on my studies. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to continue my studies at the University of Minnesota in the areas of Animal Science and Agricultural Communication & Marketing. Without your generous support, I would not be able to reach my goal of working in agricultural policy and the beef industry. Thank you again for continuing to support my future and my educational endeavors.

Awards Received

2021 Undergraduate Award (Minnesota)

Hometown:

Hometown:

Aurora, SD

School:

School:

University of Minnesota

Major:

Major:

Agricultural Communication & Marketing; Animal Science

Career Goals:

Career Goals:

With every challenge, there is an opportunity. Currently the biggest challenge facing the agricultural industry is sustainability. Sustainability, not just in terms of environmental issues like land utilization and carbon emissions, but also with consideration for economic and social aspects. While I may not be the person to invent climate-smart crops or engineer the latest biofuel, I am a communicator, and communicators, like myself, must work in tandem with scientists to bridge educational gaps. The need to creatively apply fresh ideas, perspectives, and insights to effectively reach an audience that has no direct affiliation with the agricultural industry never been greater. As a freshman at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities studying Agricultural Communication and Marketing, I am learning how to do exactly that- build bridges. In conducting undergraduate research that studies how mass media communicates key agricultural issues, such as beef growth promotion implants, I am witnessing the challenges current agricultural communicators and scientists face while encountering barriers that seem insurmountable. Through my undergraduate research, I am seeking to discover more effective ways to connect with diverse audiences and share the story of sustainable agriculture. Further, my goal throughout the rest of my undergraduate years is to learn how to communicate key scientific innovations to the public in a manner that is understandable. Beyond communications, however, is the need to utilize the information to affect policy. As I learn more about effective communication strategies, I plan to simultaneously learn more about agricultural policy. Following my undergrad, I will attend graduate school to earn a master’s degree in Agricultural Communication where I will continue to conduct research on the United States communication system and methods for effectively utilizing those systems to impact public perceptions and policy maker decisions related to sustainability in agriculture. Ultimately, I aspire to work for the United States Department of Agriculture or a state Department of Agriculture. I want to apply my education to help solve issues facing the agricultural community as well as inform policies that would promote sustainable agricultural practices and innovations. I believe that policies should help farmers and non-farmers alike by stimulating a sustainable food source that is derived from American agriculture. As our focus continues to center on sustainable food sources, it is my goal to support new innovations by communicating their benefits as well as creating and communicating government programs and policies that enable these innovations to take root within American agriculture