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ACE 2021 Honor Award Winners

ACE Fellow (formerly the ACE Professional Award)

Becky Koch, North Dakota State University

Becky Koch retired as NDSU Agriculture Communication director in November 2020 after serving in that role 16 years and with the department 29 years. She led a diverse team of 24 that included marketing, editorial, graphics, electronic media, web, computer support, the campus print and copy services, and more. With Ag Communication, she especially enjoyed training staff and developing multimedia programs with teams. She advised the NDSU Ag Communicators of Tomorrow chapter since its founding and now teaches Introduction to Ag Communications remotely.

In ACE, she served as 2013-14 president, 2016-19 treasurer, Distance Education and Instruction Design special interest group (now learning community) chair and 2003 conference program chair.

Becky received her B.S. in ag journalism and M.S. in ag education, both from Kansas State University. Before joining NDSU, she served as Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom administrator and Kansas Wheat Commission communications director.

Reuben Brigham Award

Gregg Hillyer, The Progressive Farmer

As Editor In Chief of Progressive Farmer, Gregg Hillyer leads the content strategy for the nation's largest circulation farm magazine and multiple digital platforms. He has also held top editorial positions at other agricultural publications and was a key member of the public relations team at Miller Meester Advertising. Hillyer has won numerous national and international awards for his writing and photography and is a past president of the American Agricultural Editors' Association. He is also on the Farm Foundation Board of Directors. An Iowa State University graduate with a degree in ag journalism, Hillyer grew up on a crops and dairy farm in southwest Iowa.

Academic & Research Learning Community Award of Excellence

Lisa Lundy, University of Florida

Dr. Lisa Lundy is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication at the University of Florida. She serves as the undergraduate coordinator for the department, as well as an affiliate faculty member of the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education (PIE Center). Lundy is a three-time alumna of the University of Florida. She received her B.S. in Advertising (1999), then went on to get her M.S. (2001) and Ph.D. (2004) in Agricultural Education and Communication, specializing in agricultural communication. Lundy is an accredited public relations (APR) professional and worked in higher education and nonprofit public relations. From 2004 to 2015, she was on faculty at Louisiana State University in the Manship School of Mass Communication. She served the Manship School as associate dean for sponsored research and programs from July 2010 through June 2012. She has been active in ACE since 2002, serving as chair of the Academic Programs and Research Learning Community and Editor of the Journal of Applied Communications.


ACE Rising Star Award (formerly the Pioneer Award)

Kelli Anderson, NDSU Ag Communication

Kelli Anderson has been an information specialist for North Dakota State University Agriculture Communication since 2015. In this role, she provides leadership to develop and carry out strategic marketing and branding plans for NDSU Extension, the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and the NDSU College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources.

Prior to working at NDSU, Anderson owned her own livestock and agricultural marketing business, and worked for the American Angus Association as a marketing and public relations coordinator from 2007 to 2012.

Since 2017, Anderson has received five ACE C&A awards, three silver and two bronze, for her work. She has also served on the ACE Membership Committee and served as the 2019-2020 ACE Marketing Learning Community Chair.

Anderson holds a B.S. in Agricultural Communications from Oklahoma State University and currently is pursuing her M.S. in Extension Education at NDSU.

Kelli and her husband Skip are active in the livestock industry, where they both enjoy judging fairs and working with youth in agriculture. They also are the proud new parents of a daughter, Wynn.

ACE Rising Star Award (formerly the Pioneer Award)

Ana Iverson, LSU AgCenter

Ana has been a member of the LSU AgCenter's communication's team since 2015. Her charge is to work with the LSU AgCenter Communications creative (digital, graphics, publications, marketing and web projects) team and other communications, information technology and subject-matter specialists/faculty to consult, design and produce educational, digital and marketing materials. Iverson has been a member of the Association for Communication Excellence (ACE) from 2015 to present. During her involvement with the organization, she has served in leadership positions with the Publishing and Graphic Design Learning Community as Chair 2018-2019 and Past Chair 2019-2020. She has served on ACE committees including the Marketing Subcommittee and the 2021 Conference Planning Committee. Her work has been recognized among her peers with awards in the 2016, 2019, and 2021 C&A’s.

ACE Rising Star Award (formerly the Pioneer Award)

Ashley McLeod-Morin, UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources

Ashley has been a communications coordinator for the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (PIE Center) at the University of Florida Institute of Food

and Agricultural Sciences since 2016. In this role, Ashley manages the public relations efforts of the Center, including online communication, social media, news media, branding, and develops research-based communication campaigns for state and federal clients through grant activities.

Ashley also serves on the outreach team for the Southeastern Coastal Center for Agricultural Health and Safety where she works closely with Extension leaders and researchers in the Southeast region to provide valuable communication resources related to agricultural health and safety. Most recently, Ashley led the development of a COVID-19 vaccine communication toolkit that provided agricultural organizations and rural communities with communication resources related to the COVID-19 vaccines.

During the past five years, Ashley was honored to receive two gold awards, four silver, three bronze, and one Outstanding Professional Skill Award through ACE’s C&As for her work. Ashley also has an established record of scholarship within applied communication, with journal articles published in the Journal of Applied Communications and the Advancements in Agricultural Development. Ashley also serves the agricultural communication discipline through the leadership team for the National Agricultural Communication Symposium (NACS) where she assists in planning the annual research and professional development conference. Ashley is currently the NACS vice president, and will serve as an officer for the next two years.

Ashley has a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and communication from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. Ashley is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in agricultural communication at the University of Florida where her research focuses on the science communication and public relations activities of government and academic organizations.

When Ashley is not working or completing her dissertation, she is spending time outdoors with her husband, Chris, and their 120-pound Newfoundland Poodle, Tucker.

ACE Rising Star Award (formerly the Pioneer Award)

Stacey Stearns, UConn Extension

Stacey Stearns is an Educational Outreach Program Specialist with UConn Extension where she manages communications and marketing. Stacey joined ACE in 2016 and serves at the vice chair for the Media Relations and Writing Learning Community and is co-chair of the 2021 Conference Committee. She is a New Technologies in Agricultural Extension fellow with the Extension Foundation with a project focused on food marketing labels and works with several other program teams at UConn Extension. Stacey earned her bachelor of science in animal science from the University of Connecticut and a master of science in agricultural education and communication from the University of Florida.

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