Katie Johnson chosen as first ag ambassador for ISU, state of Iowa


Jen Hao Wong/Iowa State Daily

Sophomore Katie Johnson is the first National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador from Iowa, specifically Iowa State. She presents to about agriculture.

Caitlin Deaver

Katie Johnson has been selected to be one of 20 National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassadors and is the first ambassador to be chosen from the state of Iowa and Iowa State University.

“It’s great to have Katie recognized in this way as a national ambassador,” said Brian Meyer, director of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service. “She is a student leader who wants to add her voice and experience to the conversations about agriculture, food and science.”

Johnson, sophomore in agricultural and life sciences education, applied to be an ambassador in May when she received an email from the College of Agriculture. She said it was her dream job and decided to apply.

The application process included sending in a resume and posting a video to YouTube of a mock presentation. Applicants were then interviewed over the phone.

“I have pretty strong presentation and communication skills [from my background in high school], and I conveyed an interest in agriculture,” Johnson said.

Johnson was chosen in July.

“It was the fourth of July [when I found out I was chosen],” Johnson said. “The fireworks really fit my mood.”

Johnson then attended training in North Carolina with the 19 other agriculture ambassadors from across the country. She was one of the youngest in attendance.

“I was definitely spoiled when I could spend time with people who get as excited about GMOs and the farm bill as me,” Johnson said.

Training took place in early August. Professors in the agriculture industry talked about giving presentations and the goals for the new ambassadors.

The biggest goal for an agriculture ambassador is to inform and educate their audiences on the various aspects of agriculture through presentations. Ambassadors are required to complete 30 hours of presentations and can present to clubs on their individual campus.

The workshops and topics Johnson covers include: agriculture advocacy, pollination, the dairy industry, GMOs, conventional agriculture, sustainability, agriculture issues and Feeding the World.

Ambassadors do everything themselves, like scheduling presentations and staying caught up with Congress’ legislation concerning agriculture to inform their audiences.

“If you wear clothes and eat food, you’re connected with agriculture,” Johnson said. “It’s more important and relevant than a lot of people know.”

The workshops Johnson gives are for age-targeted audiences. Most of them are geared toward high school and college students, but some topics are geared toward elementary-age children, as well.

“I think agriculture is really important,” Johnson said. “A lot of extremist groups bash certain aspects of agriculture. I’m glad outreach programs can tell the other side of the story.”

Being the first agriculture ambassador from the state of Iowa and Iowa State, Johnson has already experienced the benefits of her position, which includes networking opportunities with future employers.

Johnson was surprised Iowa State had not had an ambassador before. She said ISU gave her the knowledge and opportunity to successfully do her dream job.

“[Iowa State] is maintaining its presence in the collegiate agriculture world,” Johnson said. “I would like to see continued involvement in this program from Iowa State students because I firmly believe ISU is one of the best universities one can attend for a career in agriculture.”

In the future, Johnson hopes to be a spokesperson for a commodity group within the agriculture industry.

“For our college, Katie is another shining example of how our students prepare themselves to take advantage of leadership opportunities, whether it’s on campus, nationally or internationally,” Meyer said.

If anyone would like to contact Johnson for a presentation, she can be reached at [email protected].