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CAHNRS Team Wins Gold and More for WSU Common Reading Project

PULLMAN, Wash. – Partnering with the Washington State University Common Reading Program to feature “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” was a golden opportunity for the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences – literally.

CAHNRS Marketing, News, and Educational Communications – including Kathy Barnard, Brian Clark, Denny Fleenor and Phil Cable as well as Kim Kidwell, associate dean for academic programs in CAHNRS  – won a gold award from the Association for Communications Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences for their work on the project. In fact, the project won the Outstanding Professional Skill Award for the entire Marketing and Media Relations Campaign of the national competition.

In addition, Gerald Steffen, creative manager for WSU Extension, won a gold award for the logo he developed for the WSU Common Reading project.

Last year’s Common Reading was “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. The book focuses on a variety of agricultural practices and “where our food comes from.”

Kidwell led activities surrounding the college’s participation in the Common Reading program. She organized her Agricultural and Food Sciences 101 class around the book, bringing in guest speakers to address a number of issues in it. She also opened the first portion of each Monday’s class to anyone on campus, which resulted in a “full house” week after week.

Working with Kidwell, the Marketing, News, and Educational Communications team developed a Web site devoted to the project that included articles written about the guest speakers in Kidwell’s class, an interactive blog called “Chew on This” where students and others could express their thoughts on food and ag-related questions, media coverage related to food and ag issues, and a weekly “Ag Word of the Week” to help educate site users about the science of agriculture. The “Ag Word of the Week” also was featured on table tents in all residence hall dining facilities on the Pullman campus.

The college’s activities culminated on Jan. 13 with a panel discussion of ag issues by industry experts. More than 400 students, faculty, staff and agricultural alumni and stakeholders attended the event, which directly preceded Pollan’s address at Beasley Coliseum. KWSU-TV filmed the panel discussion, which aired on the station’s “@WSU” program in May.

ACE judges said the project “was able to engage people and advocate a coordinated message.”