The Agricultural Leadership, Educa​tion and Communication degree prepares graduates for careers in both formal and non-formal education. The major is designed for students who want a broad, general background in agriculture and natural resources and wish to develop their leadership and communication skills to pursue careers in the area of leadership in business and industry, agricultural education, agricultural extension and agricultural communications.
Who Says Athletics and Agriculture Can't Play Together?

Ashley Harris graduated from the ALEC graduate program in May 2014 with a 3.95 GPA. She was also a member of Gamma Sigma Delta –the Honor Society of Agriculture. Ashley majored in agricultural communications with an emphasis in intercollegiate athletics. She is now the athletic academic coordinator at North Dakota State University, where she tracks the academic progress of student athletes for NCAA eligibility for six sports. Ashley primarily works with men’s basketball, men’s track, volleyball, men’s golf, women’s golf, and women’s soccer and communicates academic matters with athletic administration, coaches, faculty, and students. Ashley shares, “I am now within a career that I love and am often asked about my graduate degree in ALEC. I explain it as a multi-faceted program that allows students to engage in learning different facets of leadership, education and communication. When employers see that I am a multifaceted individual who has taken a variety of courses in three different but essential areas, it is not only impressive but intriguing.”

Ashley’s responsibilities include meeting with student athletes weekly or bi-weekly to monitor their progress, evaluating transfer eligibility for any incoming transfer student-athletes, promoting academic and life-skill development and coordinating the Athletic Academic Academy Awards for student-athletes to be recognized for their outstanding academic achievements.

“The outstanding thing about ALEC is that is also allows freedom for a student to explore another interest if that is what they desire. My interest happened to be athletics, and in addition to taking classes in Leadership, Education and Communications, I was able to take classes in my interest and gain more knowledge within the athletic field. With my degree in ALEC, it has truly allowed me to become the educator, the advocate, and a multifaceted resource for the student-athletes at North Dakota State University.”

One of CASNR’s Own Featured as UTK Hooding Ceremony Speaker

​The University of Tennessee’s Graduate Hooding Ceremony is always a tremendously special ceremony, crowning the achievements of doctoral students’ hard work and dreams. There, beside them, are their major professors, who stood with them every step of the way through their studies. During the ceremony they proudly place their now former students’ doctoral hoods over their academic robes. It is a very touching moment. This spring, we at CASNR are especially proud that one of our own, Plant Sciences Doctoral Candidate Jeneen Abrams, is the Spring 2015 Hooding Ceremony Speaker.

Jeneen is believed to be the first African American woman in the nation to earn a PhD in plant breeding, and her achievements in this discipline have earned her two national research awards.

She is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the daughter of Walter and Claudia Fields. Jeneen gained her love for agriculture when she attended high school at the W. B. Saul High School for Agriculture Sciences. She received her undergraduate degree from Penn State University in Agriculture Sciences and completed her MS in plant molecular genetics at the Alabama A&M University under current deputy chief of research for the U.S. Forest Service, Dr. Jim Reaves.

She has been employed with the USFS as a researcher and with a pharmaceutical company as a chemist. She transitioned out of the laboratory and into the classroom and to teach high school chemistry, general biology and advanced biology for five years in Dekalb County schools located in the greater Atlanta area. At UT, she earned her degree studying under nationally recognized soybean breeder, Dr. Vincent Pantalone. Her research focused on utilizing phenotyping and molecular markers to improve protein content and amino acid composition in soybean.


een would like to thank her husband, Teacher Abrams, her three beautiful daughters, Tabitha, Sarah, and Destiny Abrams, her dad, Walter Fields, her sisters, Dr. Francine Fields and Rah’Shana Coleman, as well as her mentor, Dr. Vince Pantalone, and the Miller and McWilliams families for their love and support throughout this endeavor.

Guess Who Found Their Roots?

​Great things have been happening already for Josh Conger, a student of ALEC, as he has just begun engaging in his future career by serving as a student teacher at David Crockett High School (DCHS)! David Crockett High School’s agricultural education program is currently offering students a class in Greenhouse Management and Landscape Design, Installation, and Maintenance.  The two classes consist of lecture and hands-on working lab. The working labs will train the students in real-life working experience through hands-on projects. During this semester, David Crockett High School has partnered with the town of Jonesborough to teach these students through real-life experiences. “We are not only teaching our students about the green industry, but they will be learning how to properly apply their knowledge through hands-on experience. We envision these opportunities to make an impression with our students and have a sense of pride as they drive through town and see the end results of their projects. And also develop a pride in their community” says Josh.

Josh sent a letter to more than 215 businesses in the community explaining the plans of the agricultural department at DCHS and asking for donations in order to continue to buy supplies. Josh’s goal was to raise five thousand dollars for the students to buy the materials and landscape a huge area in front of the school. DCHS already has two big donors who are going to contribute so that the classes can plant over one hundred species of trees and plants for the FFA to study for plant identification. David Crockett also held their first Plant Live Auction for FFA on the last Saturday of April.  Josh has a list of forty-five businesses (not included in the 215 letters) that will donate a minimum of $150 or more of horticulture supplies, i.e. plants, mulch, fertilizers, hardscapes, etc. and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to DCHS FFA for trips, memberships, and other student activities. They also started over 3000 veggie plants that will be ready for harvest in about 4 weeks and will start supplying our local farmers market. Josh shares, “Dr. Stripling always said a great ag teacher has to be known in the community... Well that’s what I'm doing. It helps that I've grown up here and made personable relationships in my businesses and personal life. I'm making a big impression with the school, and I'm excited about this semester, where were going, and what this will grow into. I'm also praying my actions will open up a position for me here.”

CASNR Will Freeman Elected SGA President

Will Freeman, a junior majoring in agricultural communications, was elected President of the University of Tennessee’s Student Government Association on April 1. Will was a member of the campaign group “Connect UT,” whose candidates were also elected vice president and Student Services director as well as many of the Student Senate positions.

“A lot of work has gone into this for the past few months,” Will told the UT student newspaper The Daily Beacon, “it’s an exciting thing.” He won 53 percent of the vote with two other presidential candidates splitting the rest.

Connect UT’s platform includes creating a Presidential Roundtable composed of students who would come together to talk about issues on campus as well as creating a “roommate finder” program that would better match incoming freshmen with their roommates. They also have ideas to improve the atmosphere around campus, like painting the crosswalk on campus in an orange and white checkerboard.

This is not the first on campus leadership position for Will. The Portland, Tennessee, native has been a CASNR Ambassador for the past two years and served as an Orientation Leader last summer. He was also an executive officer for Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity.

ALEC Lands Another Outstanding Freshman

Madison Benson, current senior at Scotts Hill High School in West Tennessee and future freshman in Agriculture Leadership, Education, and Communications, shares her story on being elected a Tennessee FFA State Officer for the 2015-2016 team.

“Being elected as the State West Tennessee Vice President is an accomplishment that has already begun to change my life. Through this office, I have the opportunity to positively influence the lives of over 13,000 FFA members across the state, and I could not be more excited. I am beyond thrilled that the hours of studying and hard work I put into this finally paid off. God's got a plan for each of us, and I am so glad that this is his plan for me.”

Not only is Madison excited to begin her year as an officer, she is ready to start a new chapter in her life by attending the University of Tennessee.

“It's not every day that graduating high seniors wake up and realize they will soon be attending the college of their dreams; fortunately I am one of those seniors. I look forward to attending UT this coming fall. I currently plan on majoring in Agriculture Education and becoming an agricultural educator and FFA advisor. I am also participating in the CASNR LLC. I am more than eager for this opportunity and all of the friends I'll meet and the memories that will last me a lifetime.”

Welcome to the family, Madison. We look forward to having you in Big Orange Country!