Ag Circle Staff Attends Professional Development Conference

From February 23-26, Carrie Isaacson, David Jones and Jennifer Ray had the opportunity to attend the National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow Professional Development Conference, held at Texas Tech University. Each year, a different university hosts this conference with the goal educating ACT members on the local agriculture and helping students develop the skills necessary to succeed in the professional world. Carrie, David and Jennifer all had

From Carrie

This year’s Professional Development Conference was fantastic. From event planning workshops to advocacy seminars, the weekend was full of opportunities for ACT members to focus on their preferred career areas and grow professionally. As a National ACT officer, I got to spend the weekend attending these workshops, planning the student portion of the Ag Media Summit with my fellow officers and meeting with outstanding ACT members from across the country. The weekend left me excited about what has been accomplished so far and what great things we have coming in the very near future. Texas Tech did a fabulous job putting together a solid and varied program that provided something of interest for everyone in attendance.

From Jennifer

On Friday morning, ACT members gathered at the National Ranching Heritage Center to listen to Wyman Meinzer, the official State Photographer of Texas.

Meinzer is a Texas Tech Alumnus and a professional photographer of 28 years. He has published 20 photography books and his photographs have graced the covers of over 250 magazines including Smithsonian, Time and National Geographic Books.

Meinzer narrowed down his wide range of accomplishments and shared his experience photographing the Waggoner Ranch in West Texas. Meinzer took on a one and a half year assignment to capture the history and culture of Waggoner Ranch in his book “Under One Fence.” The Waggoner Ranch was founded in 1849 and 535,000 acres are still housed under one fence, making it the largest contiguous ranch in the United States.

Meinzer showed some of his favorite photos from the Waggoner Ranch, which depict the history of early western life and the tradition that is still alive today.  He told the story behind each shot and shared tips about lenses, cameras and techniques.

“I don’t use Photoshop. I don’t jack with the colors,” said Meinzer. Wyman Meinzer’s personality and photos are authentic and his achievements are inspiring to ACT members.

From David

It’s no secret Texas has a rich history of agriculture. From ranches to cotton farms to peanuts and grapes, the Lone Star State delivers a tremendous amount of agricultural goods to our dinner tables. My favorite part of the trip was being able to tour some facilities capturing the agriculture industry of West Texas.

We had a few different tour options, but I chose one going to the American Cotton Growers plant and Llano Estacado Winery. The first stop was to the American Cotton Growers plant in Littlefield, Tex. The plant is owned by farmers and focuses on providing value-added high-fashion denim fabrics to retailers all over the world. The company is vertically integrated, from the field to manufacturing and has approximately 500 full-time employees. They sell denim fabric to some retailers you may have heard of: Levi-Strauss, Abercrombie & Fitch, The Buckle, Old Navy, Gap, Wrangler…etc. Chances are, the knickers you’ve got on right now started out in Texas.

As an avid wine consumer, I also wanted to see how the wines of Texas stacked up against ours in California. The Llano Estacado winery began in 1971 with some investors and a Texas Tech horticulturalist by the name of Bob Reed. They officially opened their doors and began selling wine in 1976.

Their wines have garnered some awards and accolades as well. In 1999, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named their 1997 Signature Red Meritage as the top Cabernet Sauvignon and/or blend in the world for the year, under $15.00. Their wine was also poured during George W. Bush’s Inaugural Ball in Washington D.C. in 2005.

We were able to try five of their wines, and I even purchased a bottle of their 35-year anniversary Malbec as a West Texas souvenir.

West Texas is quite a fascinating place, especially with regard to the agriculture industry. This place is extremely flat, however. One of the tour participants described this better than I ever could: “It’s so flat out here, you could watch your dog run away for four days!”

To learn more about the 2012 Professional Development Conference, visit the National ACT PDC Blog!

Want to hear about the crazy travels Carrie, David and Jennifer had on their way home? Visit Carrie’s blog!

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