Award of Excellence Academic & Research Learning Community
Jessica Holt, PhD, University of GeorgiaDr. Jessica Holt’s background is in print design, photography, and journalism within the agricultural industry. She worked in industry as a freelance writer, coordinator for youth activities with a large corporation, legislative assistant for the Florida Legislature, and a public relations expert for a junior college. Currently, she is a faculty member at the University of Georgia, teaching classes in photography, videography, writing, design, communication, and information visualization. She also serves as the undergraduate coordinator for the Agricultural Communication major at the University of Georgia, and is the chair-elect for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Science Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. She loves teaching and engaging with students on a daily basis, while implementing new and innovative teaching strategies to increase student preparedness for their future careers. Dr. Holt works to strategically integrate her research in information visualization into her courses to help prepare her students to share valuable and necessary information about agricultural and environmental topics with the public and stakeholders in meaningful and relevant ways.
Award of Excellence Media Relations & Writing Learning Community
Chris Moran, UFL, IFAS
Chris Moran has been a member of ACE for eight years. He serves as a communications aide to the senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
He has served ACE as vice chair-elect, vice chair and chair of what is now the Media Relations and Writing LC and for the past year as Diversity LC vice-chair elect. He also served on the 2021 annual conference committee as the professional development chair.
Chris was a 2018 Pioneer Award winner. He has won 8 Gold Awards in various writing categories and an OPS writing award.
Before starting his career in ag communications, Chris worked for two decades at daily newspapers, including The San Diego Union-Tribune and The Houston Chronicle.
ACE Rising Star Award
Chris Branam serves as the lead public information officer for Oregon State University Extension Communications. As a member of the unit’s leadership team, he participates in long-range and strategic planning and other work for the department as a whole. He develops plans, strategies, and procedures for news, media relations, social media and impact/accountability communications that support the OSU Extension mission, demonstrate the impact and public value of these programs and enhance public understanding of science. The resulting products are used by the media, in legislative communications, internally, on social media and in many other outlets.
ACE Rising Star Award
Justin Miller, Auburn University
Justin Miller started his career as a student writer for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in September 2015. He now serves as a communications and marketing specialist for Alabama Extension, working in the areas of website development, news and media relations, and social media.
In website development, he manages daily content submissions from specialists and agents around the state, works with creative services to upload peer-reviewed publications, and manages the website’s expiring content. He also works with members of the Information Technology department to plan further improvements of the website’s navigation and layout. Justin is also a department news writer He helps implement a five-day news cycle that runs to statewide media outlets. In the area of social media, Justin works with others to keep relevant content populated on the System’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.
His communication projects are known for their clear communication and readability, technical credibility, and eye-appeal. His work is requested on major projects ranging from COVID-19 and Avian Influenza social media campaigns to website revision and maintenance to hurricane damage assessments.
Justin is an active leader in the ACE community. He presented professional development workshops at the 2020 and 2022 ACE conferences as well as UC Davis and Oklahoma State University. He has served as vice chair and chair of the social media learning committee and currently is the past chair of this group.
Justin is also known for his highly competitive, client-centered projects. During his three short years in ACE, he has earned three Outstanding Professional Skill awards, nine gold awards, seven silver awards, and four bronze awards through the C&A program.
Justin holds an Associate in Arts degree from Northeast Alabama Community College and a Bachelor of Science degree from the Auburn University College of Agriculture.