The Agriculturist has long been a staple capstone experience for agricultural communications students at Texas Tech University. Students in the program write the stories, shoot the photographs, design the layouts, and sell the advertising to bring this publication to life.
David Doerfert, Ph.D., professor in agricultural communication at Texas Tech University, taught the course that produces the magazine for 14 years until 2016, when Lindsay Kennedy, Ph.D., and assistant professor of practice in agricultural communications, took over the course.
Doerfert said the magazine has evolved with the program as it has adapted to changing industry trends as well as the number of students in Texas Tech’s agricultural communications program. Before the introduction of the Ag Comm Block in 2017, the magazine was previously produced in both fall and spring semesters rather than one annual issue.
“The fall magazine was always smaller than the spring one and did not always have an even number of students in the fall issue,” Doerfert said. “I might have had 11 students in the fall, and then in the spring issue, I would have 25. I always thought the spring issue was a little stronger because we had more students working on it, better pictures, and more ads sold.”
“The Agriculturist serves as a lab for students. Whether it is photography, news writing, Photoshop, or Illustrator. Students begin to start putting it all together, which emulates what you do in the workplace.”David Doerfert, Ph.D., professor in agricultural communication at Texas Tech University
Doerfert was one of the only professors in agricultural communications in the late 90s. After the fifth Agriculturist was produced, the department added more faculty members to the agricultural communications program.
Doerfert said the magazine has changed to meet industry standards to ensure students are prepared for the workplace. From moving to digital photography and eliminating the dark room, the faculty at Texas Tech strives to keep up as technology advances. Doerfert said Adobe software used to create the magazine moved from PageMaker to other products such as InDesign. Regardless, the magazine experience is meant to replicate a real-world setting.
“The Texas Tech Ag Comm Block is preparing students for the workplace,” Doerfert said. “The Agriculturist serves as a lab for students. Whether it is photography, news writing, Photoshop, or Illustrator. Students begin to start putting it all together, which emulates what you do in the workplace.”
When Texas Tech decided to bring on more faculty to teach agricultural communications, the department started to see growth in the program. Each professor brings in their unique expertise and philosophy which gives students a diverse learning perspective.
Doerfert has played a large part of the growth of the Agriculturist along with the agricultural communications program. He has spent countless hours teaching and advising students in undergraduate and graduate courses at Texas Tech. Doerfert said, he has all the issues of the Agriculturist he has ever worked on. It was a crucial part of what he did and was the most labor-intensive course he taught. The magazine made a difference to him as an instructor with both immediate and long-term feedback.
The Agriculturist has become a staple communications piece for the department and the college, and Doerfert said people look forward to receiving The Agriculturist in the mail.
“It has become a connecting piece not only for our alumni but for the college,” Doerfert said. “Those two purposes have served us very well. I don’t ever see it going away. I see it continuing to evolve.”