ACDC News – Issue 21-01

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Hearty welcome to Owen Roberts

On December 1, Dr. Owen Roberts became a faculty member in the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications (ALEC) Program at the University of Illinois. He will be working with colleagues in advancing the agricultural communications curriculum (undergraduate and graduate), teaching courses, and helping students and professionals communicate effectively and grow in their careers.

Owen brings to this effort his experience as president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) and 30-plus years of honored communications and journalism experience at the University of Guelph. Located near Toronto in Ontario, it is Canada’s leading agricultural university. His professional connections range broadly from the Association of Communication Excellence (ACE) and AAEA –The Ag Communicators Network in the U. S. to agricultural journalist organizations throughout the world. As well, he strengthens the worldwide mission of the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center.  His University of Illinois e-mail address is

“We in ALEC are tremendously excited to have Dr. Roberts join our team,” reports Director David Rosch.  “Our Illinois students will be well served by the breadth of his professional experiences and perspectives in agricultural communications.”

COVID-19 has “brought the restaurant to your home. And that’s here to stay.”

This message greeted participants in “Foodservice: delivered,” a recent virtual conference of the Produce Marketing Association. The four panelists emphasized that once the foodservice industry re-emerges from the coronavirus shutdowns, it will be changed forever. They offered examples and advice about how the industry can make sure the change is for the better.

“Think of ways to serve,” an executive chef urged, for example. “When we think about what it means to be in hospitality, it means to serve. This is a call to action.”


You can read the 2020 news article in The Packer by open access here. We are actively adding documents about the communications aspects of COVID-19, globally.

Mutual influence – best for communicating about nature

In communicating with others, our influence on them affects how much we are influenced by them. A research team from Germany and the United Kingdom  reported evidence of this tendency in a recent issue of Nature Communications.

Using an experimental perceptual task, they found that participants took more advice from the partner who took more advice from them. “…we showed that reciprocity is both a dynamic process and is abolished when people believed they interacted with a computer. Reciprocal social influence is a signaling medium for human-to-human communication that goes beyond aggregation of evidence for decision improvement.”


You can read this journal article by open access here.

What every ag and food communicator should know

Lyle E. Orwig summed up four decades of learning last month as he retired from Charleston|Orwig (now C.O.nxt), a communication agency he founded, Hartland, Wisconsin.  His career adventures took him from what associates described as “the farm fields of Illinois to the most influential circles within food and agriculture.”


You can read 12 top takeaways from Lyle’s distinguished career here.

How behavioral sciences can promote health, safety and self-governance in today’s risky online ecosystem

Major web platforms “have deep knowledge of users’ behavior, whereas users know little about how their data is collected, how it is exploited for commercial or political purposes, or how it and the data of others are used to shape their online experience.” A four-nation research team offered that perspective in a 2020 article in Nature Human Behavior.  They identified untapped technological cues and competencies needed to help promote truth, autonomy, and democratic discourse.


You can read the article by open access here.

Communicator events approaching

Uncertainties of the COVID-19 health issue continue to prompt flexible event planning. Here are plans of which we are aware, with contact information you can use for details.

January 22, 2021

Deadline for research papers for presentation at the 2021 ACE Conference (held virtually) June 21-22. Contact: Research Director Garrett Steede at

February 2-3, 2021 (online/virtual symposium rescheduled from on-site)

National Agricultural Communications Symposium (NACS) will feature (1) research or professional papers and (2) research and innovative ideas posters.

Information about papers: Dr. Shuyant Qu at  Information about posters: Annie Specht at

February 12, 2021

a)Deadline for research proposals to the Research and Academic Programs Learning Community for presentation at the 2021 ACE Conference (held virtually) June 21-22. Contact: Vice Chair Laura Fischer at

b)Deadline for posters. Contact: Secretary Shannon Norris at

c)Deadline for theses and dissertations. Contact: Vice Chair Laura Fischer at

April 12-15, 2021

“Mediterranean Agriculture, Food and Environment.” Annual conference of the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education (AIAEE) in Thessaloniki, Greece.


Sixteen hints on how to be your own weather prophet

We close this issue of ACDC News with some weather wisdom from a century ago. The “Reflections Farm and Food History” website of features 16 hints published in a 1919 issue of The Farmer’s Advocate.  They were attributed to the New York Sun. Here are a couple samples:

  • “A foggy morning is usually the forerunner of a clear afternoon.”
  • “A ring around the moon means a storm is coming soon.”


You can read the 14 others here.

Best regards and wishes for your year ahead

ACDC is a resource for you, so please 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 international 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