Ag week activities started on Monday with the announcement of the winning proposal “Promoting the Good Works of Indiana Agriculture.” Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann wanted to come up with a way to promote the positive story of Indiana agriculture to the younger consumers of our state. So she decided to challenge young people to come up some ideas, “Who better to communicate with millennials than other millennials?” A contest was held where 30 teams of students from 17 colleges and universities around the state would present a concept that would promote ag to the millennial generation (18 to 35 years old).
During a statehouse ceremony on Monday, Ellspermann and ISDA director Ted McKinney announced the winner. The team from Huntington University took first place for a concept called “Hoosier Grown.” Team leader Stephanie Morin, said their program was built around the idea that agriculture is more than just farming, “A lot of people outside of agriculture think that agriculture is all about old guys in overalls with a horse drawn plow. We wanted to expand their horizon.” She said Indiana agriculture today is cutting-edge, involving lots of technology and many different careers. “On behalf of Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) , I applaud ‘Hoosier Grown’ for their excellent work in the ‘Promoting the Good Works of Indiana Agriculture’ competition,” ISDA Director Ted McKinney said. “Our staff is excited to review their plan and consider its inclusion into existing strategies that promote the excellent work that our farmers, universities, and agribusinesses are doing throughout our state.”
Morin said millennials want to know why they should care about agriculture, “They want to know how it affects their daily lives. On a small level, it is about the milk and cereal in your bowl coming from Indiana farms; but on a larger scale, how agriculture can impact their world.” She added that how agriculture can feed hungry people around the world and how modern farming methods can impact the environment in a positive way are messages that connect with Millennials. In their presentation, the Huntington team talked about sustainability, which Morin defined as, “Agriculture that can continue on and is as least wasteful of its resources as possible.” She told HAT they presented technology in agriculture in a neutral way, neither good or bad.
The Lt. Governor presented a $25,000 check to the winning team, with $10,000 awarded to Huntington University and the remaining $15,000 split among the students who prepared the proposal. “I congratulate all thirty teams for submitting very professional proposals. Selecting a winner was difficult for our panel of judges. The students and faculty from Huntington University can be proud of their winning effort against this competition. In the opinion of our judges, their proposal was a comprehensive and effective plan to reach our target audience with a creative message about agriculture,” said Ellspermann.
Huntington University’s “Hoosier Grown” team includes seven talented students, ranging in expertise from animation, film production, graphic design, marketing, public relations, and social media strategy. Some of team members grew up or currently work on farms and were members of 4-H or were active in the FFA. One teammate serves as his county’s membership chairman for the Indiana Farm Bureau. The two runners-up were from the University of Southern Indiana and the University of Indianapolis. Governor Mike Pence and First Lady Karen Pence hosted a reception for the three finalist teams at the Governor’s Residence. The $25,000 prize money was graciously provided by outside sponsors including Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana Corn Marketing Council, Elanco, and Indiana Farm Bureau.
The winning team was made up of:
- Micah Christensen, a senior from Winamac, Indiana
- TJ Clounie, a sophomore from Huntington, Indiana
- Dane Drew, a junior from Columbia City, Indiana
- Hannah Hochstetler, a senior from Goshen, Indiana
- Stephanie Morin, a senior from Gorham, Maine (team leader)
- Matt Nelson, a senior from Granger, Indiana
- Ayla Yeiter, a sophomore from Roanoke, Indiana