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NMSU Ag student is sparking online conversation about agriculture

Lauren Schlothauer, even in high school as an active member of Future Farmers of America, had clear goals. Now a sophomore at New Mexico State University, she has earned numerous accolades, and she is receiving notoriety for sparking up an honest conversation about ethical agriculture, while a continuing to network and find a path that excites her.



Lauren Schlothauer, a sophomore at New Mexico State University, has earned numerous accolades, and she is receiving notoriety for sparking up an honest conversation about ethical agriculture on her blog, Dare to Cultivate. (Courtesy photo)

The agricultural communications and livestock major recently earned second place along with a $2,500 scholarship during the sixth annual Animal Agriculture Alliance competition, a national program where college students share agriculture?s story and become passionate spokespeople on behalf of the food and fiber industries.

Schlothauer, along with other participants, generated 39 blog posts, over 450 Facebook posts, over 700 Tweets and over 600 Instagram posts along with other social media and campus outreach activities.

?My experience in the College Aggies Online program that Animal Agriculture Alliance created was absolutely phenomenal. I learned from industry professionals such as Feedstuffs Magazine, Dairy Management Inc., and the National Cattleman?s Beef Association,? she said. ?I learned that we should always be advocating for agriculture in some way because it can always make an impact ? no matter how small. Competing in this event gave me the opportunity to begin networking so I can secure a job upon graduation in something that I love, and agricultural communications is where I can do that.?

With her personal blog, www.daretocultivate.com, she wants to become an advocate for agriculture, tackling the issues that affect different industries such as dairy and beef as well as the consumer.

?Agricultural can be a very controversial issue,? she said. ?Agricultural production is such a small sector, and many people do not get to experience what it?s like to be a farmer or rancher. My blog targets consumers as well as producers, so there is a discussion between the two sides.?

Schlothauer said the goal for her blog is to create an inclusive community of people who want to learn, ask questions or network. She touches on issues of food production, hunger and, as the name suggests, dares her audience to get out and grow their own food. She said she is extending her blog to include recipes and lifestyle articles.

?My future goals are to help consumers understand where their food comes from. I hope to accomplish this mission through education via social media about the importance of animal welfare and consumer safety as cornerstones on any farm or ranch,? she added.

Her classes and mentors, she said, challenge and keep her informed about animal and agricultural advances.

?In the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education, we promote internships to assist the student with making sure the career path that they have chosen is the correct one,? said Frank Hodnett, Schlothauer?s adviser and mentor. ?Lauren takes these ideas seriously and makes her own opportunities, and with our support, makes it happen. Lauren is a very driven individual who knows what she wants to do in the future and works had to position herself to get the most from her education.?

Next semester she will travel to network with people in her field, which she said would not be possible without the national exposure of the Animal Agriculture Alliance competition.

She will have the opportunity to network and learn from the best in the industry in January when she travels to Indianapolis, Indiana, to be a part of AgChat?s Collegiate Congress. In the spring she will be in Fayetteville, Arkansas, to explore Tyson Foods Headquarters and in May she will attend the Animal Agriculture Alliance?s Stakeholders Summit.

?Lauren is a very driven individual who knows what she wants to do in the future and works hard to position herself to get the most from her education,? Hodnett said.