At just 20 years old, Kassie Waller is ahead of the game as a graduate student and young professional at Texas Tech University for agricultural communications.
She works as a graduate research assistant for the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications at Texas Tech by contributing to the conference and event planning. In addition, she is assisting in the planning of the Doc at theDistance Conference in Lubbock, which allows students to obtain a doctoral degree in agricultural education online.
This summer she is working as the Student Recognition and Scholarship intern at the Texas FFA Association in Austin, Texas. “I assist with the scholarship selection process and award programs. I also am currently working on the program that members receive while at the State FFA Convention. In addition, I have been assisting the communications coordinator with writing press releases and articles for the association’s website,” said Kassie.
Only having worked at the Texas FFA Association for a month, her internship has given her practical career skills and valuable experience in the realm of communications. She is writing pieces from the association’s media materials, and assisting in the event planning and management aspect of preparing for the state convention. “I plan to work within the Texas agriculture industry in some facet, so this internship is the perfect opportunity to begin my career and give me insight to different aspects of the industry,” said Kassie.
After she graduates with a master’s degree next fall, she plans to expand her career into event planning and management or public relations for an agricultural association in a communications department.
Last December, she graduated with her bachelor’s in agricultural science with a minor in communication studies from Eastern New Mexico University.
Coming to ENMU was a natural choice for Kassie because she is a third-generation Greyhound, and the financial aid ENMU provides to students is an important aspect. She was able to graduate two and half years early because of ENMU’s opportunity for high school students to join dual enrollment classes m“I graduated debt free, and, as a young professional, that was a very relieving feeling,” said Kassie.
During her undergraduate career, she was highly involved in the agriculture department, on the Dean’s List every semester, given the opportunity to co-coordinate the ENMU Career Development Event Invitation, attended the Western American Association for Agricultural Education Conference in Tucson, Arizona, and was an active member and treasurer in Collegiate Future Farmers of America.“ENMU gave me the opportunity to stay involved in the state FFA association in which I grew up, and experience contests and leadership events from a different perspective,” she said.
Kassie is passionate about agricultural literacy and the concept of educating others, which she plans to include in her thesis. “By educating others on popular agricultural topics [like the use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms] that at times cause concern, we will move toward creating an agriculturally literate society, made up of citizens who are well-informed, rather than panic-stricken towards unfamiliar issues,” she said.
Growing up in eastern New Mexico, Kassie did not grow up with a traditional agriculture background as many of her classmates and neighbors had; her father is the sheriff of Curry County and her mother, an ENMU alumnus, works at Plateau. “I am extremely grateful for my small-town upbringing. I was blessed with extremely encouraging and supportive parents.”
However, she fell in love with agriculture after taking an agriculture class at Texico High School and becoming a member of FFA. She explains, “Being exposed to the leadership aspect of agriculture showed me at a young age that agriculture had many things to offer other than farming and ranching. “By getting a degree in agricultural sciences from ENMU, I was able to gain basic knowledge on almost any agricultural topic imaginable. This has greatly prepared me for a career in agricultural communications by equipping me with the knowledge to educate others and communicate information to the general public,” said Kassie.