Auburn University agricultural communications majors can gain real-world experience right on campus when they join the staff of AgHill Communications, or AHC, a student-formed and -operated business that serves bona fide clients.
“The hope is that students in this program can get a better understanding of some really complex issues that we face in agriculture today and that they are well prepared to discuss those issues and also communicate those issues to the broader public,” College of Agriculture Dean Paul Patterson said.
The enterprise offers services such as social media management, photography and videography, special events coordination, website management and design, news releases and graphic and print design. It is located near the College of Agriculture’s Office of Communications and Marketing in the basement of Ag Hill’s Comer Hall.
The student organization, established in 2016, was the brainchild of then–ag communications senior Emily Thompson.
“I didn’t want AgHill Communications to be just another class or internship but instead to provide an environment for students where their creativity isn’t limited and the work they produce has a higher purpose than a test grade,” said Thompson, who was the firm’s first senior director.
Her vision was that ag communications students who join the staff could build portfolios substantial enough to impress potential employers.
“I want them to have experience, unlike an internship, under their belts so that when they graduate, they can go confidently into the workforce and handle whatever is thrown at them,” Thompson said. “Students can learn from each other and find a passion they can take into the workplace long after graduation.”
Students involved in AHC says the opportunity to work for clients such as the Alabama National Fair in Montgomery and the College of Agriculture and Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s annual Ag Discovery Adventure are invaluable.
“Working with the Alabama National Fair showed me just how detailed event planning has to be,” Morgan Graham, current AgHill Communications senior director, said.
Graham, a senior in the ag communications academic program, said being in AHC has benefited her and other members of the organization in many ways, including helping them make important connections throughout the state and enhance their résumés.
“I’ve seen a lot of people in our group branch out of their comfort zones and work in areas where they would not have worked otherwise,” she said.
The organization has grown rapidly since its inception, and that’s all due to the hard work and dedication of the students involved, Paul Hollis, AHC advisor and ag communications instructor, said.
“AgHill Communications was created by students, and the success it has enjoyed is due solely to their enthusiasm and the quality of their work product,” Hollis said. “It provides a true work home for the students in our major and allows them to expand their skills beyond the classroom.”
He noted that the venture would not have gotten off the ground without the commitment and encouragement of Patterson and the College of Agriculture’s administrative staff, he said.
“Without their help, our students would not have the workspace or the equipment that allows them to offer their services in a professional setting.”
Follow the group @aghillcommunications.com.
By Maggie Smith