Kelsey Knight Interview

Kelsey was a senior when I was a freshman, she was one of the first CLD students I met, she was involved across Ag campus and was well known in several of the clubs that I joined. While watching Kelsey go off to do a career that I had never even heard of, I became more and more impacted by the variety of careers one could do with a Community and Leadership Development degree. As a graduating senior now, and seeing all the changes within the department over the course of my time here, I hope that we as seniors can impact our incoming freshmen like Kelsey did for me. For this interview, I wanted to get Kelsey’s side of her time in college, how it helped her with her current and previous jobs, and what parts of the program benefited her the most. While CLD brings together a variety of students, all have a vision for their life after graduation and I think that is a special part of our department and program.

Why did you choose to study CLD?

From a young age, I had an interest in working for Cooperative Extension and Community Outreach.  I was completely submerged in the 4-H programs at a local and state level which led me to this realization. I had this never-ending curiosity to learn more about the extension model, the programs that were offered, and the impact that could come from Extension systems. Community and Leadership Development was this beautiful combination of exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to learn more about community systems, extension models, and wanted to be a better communicator and leader.

What area of CLD do you utilize in your career the most? (Agriculture Communication, Agriculture Education, Rural Sociology or others)

I think it’s a hybrid of communications, leadership, and rural sociology.  Which may sound broad, but I explain it a little more in number four.

What is your current/past career(s)?

I am in my third year with AgriCorps. With AgriCorps, I was able to work as a Fellow in Ghana for a year as an agriculture teachers, 4-H advisor, and informal agriculture extension agent. After the Fellowship, I continued with the organization and accepted a position as their Director of Recruitment. 

The recruitment positon includes traveling to multiple universities throughout the year, setting up visits, interacting with prospects, managing the applications, and also onboarding all new hires.

What skills and knowledge did you gain in the CLD classrooms to better prepare you for your career?

Following up from question two, I often think back to how these really have shaped what I do now. I am now working as a recruiter and a large portion of that is communicating with audiences about our programs. This includes written and verbal communications.

From a different angle, I also have to be cognizant of students that I work with and this is where that rural sociology factors in. Traveling across the US, I really have to know the audiences I work and communicate with in order to better build relationships. I make a very conscious effort to learn more about the students and stakeholders I interact with so I know how to most effectively communicate with that audience.

I took a course with Dr. Garkovich and remember her talking about how she does this with her Extension role. That was one thing I have really used in both my AgriCorps roles.  For example, the way I communicate with a female, Animal Science student from Pennsylvania is very different than I communicate with a male Plant Science student from Texas. I know these students are coming from different cultures so in my position it is important to learn more about their pasts and how AgriCorps can plan apart in their future.

I also use the leadership I gained there every day. Another large portion of my job is managing prospective applicants and the people we hire.  In order to effective do this job, I have to be able to effective lead the groups I work with. In a way, this connects back to the rural sociology because hopefully I will have established a sense of trust with our hires and the way that I gain that trust is through being a strong, positive, leader.

How has your time studying CLD impacted your adult life?

My adult life has been pretty short so far, but I am still seeing things from my undergrad play out. I mentioned some things in number four.  However, I think it has certainly played a ripple effect on what I hope to do in the future. I would’ve never worked for AgriCorps if CLD had not pushed me to learn more about extension and community development.  Now after working with AgriCorps, I have more practical experiences in this field and hope to eventually get my masters in Extension Education.

Maggie ParsonsMaggie Parsons is the 2017 Community and Leadership Development Digital Communications Intern. Maggie is a senior Community and Leadership Development major who has focused on gaining Agriculture Communications experiences and courses over the time of her college career. She will pursue a career as a Marketing Specialist with Diversified Services post graduation in December. Maggie grew up on a small cattle farm and has a passion for being a voice for small farmers and the agriculture industry.