Students’ agriculture plan wins state competition

By Breanna Amico

Students pose after winning the competition

Students pose after winning the competition

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann announced that the university student team “Hoosier Grown” was the winner of the “Promoting the Good Works of Indiana Agriculture” competition March 24.

The student team was led by faculty advisor Ann McPherren, Ph.D., and comprised of seven students — Micah Christensen, TJ Clounie, Dane Drew, Hannah Hochstetler, Matt Nelson, Stephanie Morin and Ayla Yeiter.

The team won $25,000 for winning. The students received $15,000 to split among them, and the university received $10,000. Originally, a grant prohibited the university from accepting the money, but since it was privately donated from state organizations, the university could accept the funds, McPherren said.

“The first time that we got an inkling that it would be possible to accept the $10,000 was during the press conference [March 24],” she said.

McPherren said the money may be used to jump start an agricultural marketing program.

“It’s a fantastic momentum builder for us to win this,” she said. “We are looking at a possible major in agriculture business … There’s a lot of interest in the community in [agricultural] business and us having a program.”

Morin said the variety of team members helped their idea come about.

“We had an amazing team — all of us different ages and different majors,” Morin said. “It worked well for us.”

According to the university press release, the Hoosier Grown plan proposed a new brand image, an integrated social-media marketing plan and an increase in awareness of the agriculture economy and opportunities.

“We had to submit one PDF of our entire proposal with live links to our website, videos and social media pages,” Morin said. “The judges then accessed the file from wherever they were to judge the proposal and determine who would move on to the final round.”

For the second round, the Hoosier Grown team presented directly to the judges at the State Library in Indianapolis, Ind.

The team spoke with a number of agriculture leaders such as the Indiana Farm Bureau, the Future Farmers of America and countless other farmers.

“We wanted to convey that agriculture was so much more than farming,” Morin said.  “It’s a cutting-edge, booming and innovative industry made up of our neighbors.”

Now that the competition is over, Hoosier Grown is waiting to meet with the marketing firm who will execute their plan.

“At this point, the [Indiana State Department of Agriculture] will review our proposal and decide which elements of our plan they will add to existing strategy and explore where promotion of the good works of Indiana agriculture might go in the future,” Morin said.

Christensen said it was an excellent way to end his college career.

“This was not the work of one person, but of a gifted team of seven students and a very gracious God,” Christensen said.


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