ACDC News – Issue 17-09


Photovoice – showcasing sustainability across cultures and languages

A participatory action tool termed “photovoice” is showing promise in communications about public health, development, and science. We recently added to the ACDC collection a case study about how photovoice operated in an agri-environmental study abroad course for U.S. students. They took photographs in a rural mountain community in Costa Rica. Their photographs offered structure for feedback from local residents at a special community event, with all using the photos to help interact across cultures and languages.

Researchers observed that the photovoice process helped both students and residents:

  • It allowed for multiple perspectives about complex factors in environmental sustainability (e.g., migrant workers, evolving land conditions, and branding).
  • It connected students to place through interaction with people of the community (e.g., importance and value of local knowledge, leadership, and action).
  • It inspired a cross-cultural dialogue that broadened awareness among all and clarified interpretations (e.g., concepts such as fair trade and social welfare).

You can read the full journal article here.

An appealing trap for agricultural journalists

It’s easy for the agricultural journalist to fall into the idea that “we’re cheerleaders for agriculture,” award-winning agricultural journalist Charles Johnson wrote recently. “We’re not. We are journalists covering agriculture.”  His article, “The Privilege of Ag Journalism,” appeared in a recent issue of The ByLine, published by AAEA The Agricultural Communicators Network. We added it recently to the ACDC collection.

You can read more of his thoughts and suggestions here.

Web 2.0 and social media: stories of life-changing encounters for many

Twenty-five stories offered interesting reading in a recent booklet from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA). It featured 25 impact assessment studies about use of ICTs to advance food security and nutrition across the developing world. Here are a few examples:

  • Story 6 – Blogging for farmers (Uganda)
  • Story 13 – ICTs pay off for farmers and telecenters (Rwanda)
  • Story 18 – New skills open doors for agricultural journalist (Burkina Faso)

You can read these and other success stories here.

Reducing “the footprint of old work stuff in my home”

Thanks to veteran agricultural journalist John Byrnes for helping preserve U.S. agricultural periodicals for future research and practice. During April he contributed five bound volumes to the University of Illinois Library. They include three years (1981, 1986, and 1987) of Hog Extra, the 1992 issues of Hogs Today, and the 1989 issues of Dairy Today. They enhance a remarkable University Library collection of agricultural periodicals, dating into the early 1800s. The ACDC staff was pleased to help coordinate arrangements.

John is a retired outreach program leader with University of Minnesota Extension. Previously, he worked with Farm Journal Media and The Miller Publishing Company.

Consumer attitudes about eating organic products

Health emerged as the most important influence in a recent study in Iran of consumer attitudes about eating organic products.  For example, it carried more influence than income, age, taste, environmental concerns, knowledge of organic products, or concerns about industrial agriculture.

Researchers found that four factors accounted for nearly one-third of variability in attitudes among the sampled consumers in Tehran:

  • Health awareness
  • Knowledge of organic products
  • Consumers’ motivations
  • Age

You can read the Journal of Agricultural and Food Information article here.

How European farmers view flower strips

A recent review of literature examined the pros and cons of flower strips, from a European farmer’s point of view.  Encouraged by the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union, these strips involve sowing a mixture of forb species, with or without grass species. Researchers noted that strips are intended to enhance farmland biodiversity by providing food and shelter for insects and animals, and provide a place for wild plants to grow and reproduce.  They can help crops by delivering pollination and pest control.

Most of the 31 selected studies indicated positive effects of flower strips, from a farmer’s point of view. However, authors noted need for more research involving economics and social recognition as factors in farmers’ consideration of this agri-environmental practice.

You can read the 2016 journal article here.

Communicator activities approaching

September 28-30, 2017
Joint conference of the Canadian Farm Writers Federation (CFWF) and Association des communicateurs et rédacteurs de l’agroalimentaire (ACRA) in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Information: and

September 29, 2017
Deadline for submitting research papers to be presented at the Agricultural Communications Section of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists in Jacksonville, Florida, February 4-5, 2018. Information: Abigail Borron at

October 4-8, 2017
“Rivers of change.” Annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA.

October 20, 2017
Deadline for submitting professional development proposals and posters to be presented at the Agricultural Communications Section of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists in Jacksonville, Florida, February 4-5, 2018.
Information about professional development proposals: Lauri Baker at
Information about posters: Quisto Settle at

October 26-30, 2017
World Conference of Science Journalists, San Francisco, California USA.

November 8-10, 2017
“Focus influence.” Annual convention of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), Kansas City, Missouri USA.

Balm for the compulsive antique collector

We close this issue with a thought that may ease your conscience if you have a habit of collecting antique equipment and parts that interest you. It comes from Aldo Leopold, quoted in the Book of Green Quotations:

“To save every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”

Best wishes and good searching

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @ACDCUIUC. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents we might add to this unique and valuable collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Comm Documentation Center, Room 510, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to