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ACE 2023 Honor Award Winners

ACE Fellow 

Ruth Hohl Borger, Florida

Ruth Hohl Borger, Ed.D., currently serves as a communications specialist at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) in Lake Alfred, Florida. UF/IFAS CREC is the largest research center dedicated to a single commodity in the world and supports Florida’s iconic citrus industry through research, teaching and Extension programs. Prior to this role, she served as Assistant Vice President for Communications for UF/IFAS.  In that role she led the strategic public relations and communications programs for the UF/IFAS organization including the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/ IFAS Extension and the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station. In addition to Florida, Dr. Borger has served in leadership communications and marketing roles over the past 40 years at higher education and nonprofit organizations in Michigan, New York, Arizona and Virginia including Michigan State University, Arizona State University, Lansing Community College and Macomb Community College.  She has been awarded two silver anvils for excellence in programming by the Public Relations Society of American (PRSA). She holds degrees from Arizona State University, George Washington University and the University of Notre Dame.

Her first experience with ACE happened shortly after arriving at Michigan State University when she learned told that the annual conference that year was being held in Traverse City, Michigan and MSU was the host university!   She attended, met some great colleagues, learned as much as she could, and started to get involved. Over the years, she has presented at annual conferences, entered (and earned) C and A awards and worked with the leadership and management learning community. She currently serves at the Development Director involved in stewarding sponsorship relationships. She also served as the chair of the first ACE fall Level Up video conference in 2022. She has served as a mentor in the Amp Up program and was presented with the Leadership and Management Learning Community Award of Excellence in 2017.

Among her proudest accomplishments is working with many young professionals, supporting their career advancement and seeing them succeed.

Reuben Brigham Award

Sara Wyant, Editor-in-Chief | Agri-Pluse

Sara Wyant is an award-winning agricultural journalist, entrepreneur and founder of Agri-Pulse Communications Inc., a unique digital media firm she launched in 2004 to focus on farm, food and rural policy issues. As Editor-in-Chief, she oversees the nation’s largest team of agricultural journalists covering Capitol Hill and Sacramento, California.

An investigative reporter who has written many groundbreaking stories, Wyant has covered almost every farm and food policy debate since the 1980s. She is well-recognized on Capitol Hill, as well as by farm, ranch and commodity associations across the country, as a veteran journalist and sought-after speaker.

Throughout her career, Wyant has been a trailblazer through several “glass” ceilings. In 1995, she was the first female to be named to the senior management team in agricultural publishing as vice president for editorial at Farm Progress. She served as the first female chairwoman on the Farm Foundation's board of trustees and as president of the American Agricultural Editors Association, where she also earned an Oscar in Agriculture award for excellence in agricultural reporting.

Wyant was named to Folio’s "Top Women in Media" in the Entrepreneurs category in 2015. For her leadership within the industry, she has received numerous awards and accolades from a wide variety of organizations including: American Agri-Women, Agriculture Future of America, FFA, Missouri Farm Bureau, National Association of Farm Broadcasters, North American Agricultural Journalists, United Soybean Board and others.

A graduate of Iowa State University, Wyant gained first-hand knowledge of crop and livestock production while growing up on a century farm near Marengo, Iowa, which she now owns and manages. She and husband Allan Johnson also own the farm where her husband's family originally established a homestead near Almont, North Dakota. They are the parents of two sons and three grandchildren.

Email Sara Wyant: Sara@Agri-Pulse.com

Go to @agripulse or @agripulsewest on Twitter to follow Sara and her team, or "like" Agri-Pulse's Facebook page.

Learning Community Award of Excellence

Matt Browning - Diversity and Accessibility

Tracy Bryant - Publishing & Graphic Design

Tracy Bryant has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications with a concentration in advertising from the University of South Florida, Tampa. She has 27 years of visual design and branding experience in many different settings, including direct mail, marketing, print vendors, and higher education. Currently, Tracy is the director of creative services in UF/IFAS Communications at the University of Florida. In addition to managing a team of graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, and copy editors, she is responsible for the visual style of UF/IFAS and for creating compelling pieces that speak directly to audiences throughout the state of Florida.

Samantha Murray - Media Relations and Writing

Samantha Murray is a senior public relations specialist with UF/IFAS Communications, where she provides media relations support to research and Extension faculty. Samantha also manages crisis communications for UF/IFAS and specializes in the areas of health, youth development and natural disasters.

Samantha is grateful to have found a home in the field of agricultural and natural resources communications. She grew up in the urban sprawl of Southern California and attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in linguistics. Her love of poetry took her to Florida to pursue a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Florida. In 2015, Samantha joined UF/IFAS Communications, allowing her to combine a lifelong interest in science with her passion for writing and communication. The most rewarding part of her job is empowering others to become better communicators while also honing her own craft. Samantha’s work has been recognized several times by the ACE critique and awards program, and she has presented at numerous ACE conferences and contributes to the Media Relations and Writing Learning Community.

Over the years, Samantha has worked on hundreds of projects, but none stands out more than the media relations campaign announcing that UF/IFAS scientists were the first to grow plants in lunar soil, a groundbreaking achievement that will impact the future of space travel. This more than yearlong project generated abundant media coverage in top national and international news outlets and will remain an unforgettable experience for Samantha and all involved.

Quisto Settle - Academic and Research

Quisto Settle has been an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University since 2017 where he teaches audio/video storytelling, risk and crisis communications, and communication theory. Prior to that he was a faculty member at Mississippi State University. He has been an ACE member since 2012 and served on the board for ACE’s Journal of Applied Communications from 2016 to 2022, including two years as chair. He has presented or co-presented research and professional development sessions at 10 ACE Conferences. His research focuses on organizational branding and science communication. He has coauthored 39 refereed journal articles and served on grant teams that have received more than $3 million.

ACE Rising Star Award 

Kevin Kent

Dr. Kevin Kent is an instructional assistant professor of agricultural communication in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication at the University of Florida.

Kent earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and communication, specializing in communication and leadership development, from UF in 2010. Following graduation, he served as the assistant director of the Florida FFA Association. While at Florida FFA, Kent pursued his master’s degree in media design from Full Sail University. He returned to UF in 2017 to obtain his doctorate in agricultural communication, graduating in 2021.

Kent leads the AEC Orange & New Creative Lab, a high-impact experience that prepares students for careers in agricultural communication by engaging them in hands-on projects with businesses and organizations. His research focuses on using innovative communication technologies to better equip communicators and leaders to share agriculture’s story. Kent is passionate about teaching and preparing the next generation of agriculture leaders, communicators, and educators.

Tunyalee Martin

Tunyalee Martin works for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. As associate director for communications, she manages a team of writers and IT programmers that develop print and online publications for the Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM). If you’ve had aphids on your roses, damping off in your seedlings, or invasive weeds in natural areas you manage, UC IPM has the solutions for you. 

Tunyalee works with university scientists to communicate their technical information to all audiences and people with differing knowledge levels of science. She helps scientists translate their research into step-by-step actions that people with pest problems can take to protect their lettuce field, almond orchard, golf course, park, community garden, or home. With the many ways people consume information nowadays—Google, watching videos, learning through social media, and participating in online trainings—Tunyalee gets information to people in the way they want to receive it. 

Prior to joining UC IPM, Tunyalee worked briefly as an analyst at University of California’s Office of the President, and has writing, research and teaching experience working for The Nature Conservancy’s Invasive Species Team, California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Biological Control Program, San Francisco State University, and Sacramento State. Tunyalee received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Entomology from UC Davis where she specialized in pest management and insect physiology. As an avid fisherwoman, she wants to see all of your big fish photos. Tunyalee also enjoys driving fast cars, attempting to grow fruits and vegetables, and visible mending. 

LinkedIn: @TunyaleeMartin

Bayleigh O'Neil

Bayleigh O’Neill is a professional creative designer and media marketing specialist. She is a West Virginia State University alumna, obtaining a B.S. in communications with an emphasis in visual media in May of 2022. Bayleigh joined the Department of Communications as a Digital Communications Specialist in August of 2022. 

Bayleigh has loved all things creative since she was a young girl. She was heavily involved with the arts in secondary school, including West Virginia All-State and All-County chorus, Showchoir, and Art club. In her free time, she enjoys party planning, interior design, creative writing, painting, and charcoal drawing. Bayleigh is happiest anywhere she is able to express her creativity.

Anna Ribbeck

Anna Ribbeck was hired in January 2020 as the first-ever social media strategist for the LSU AgCenter. She previously worked as the marketing director for one of Louisiana’s largest wholesale plant nurseries, and she holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the LSU College of Agriculture. In three years, Ribbeck has increased the LSU AgCenter’s social media following by over 91K followers and driven over 660K link clicks to the AgCenter’s website. Ribbeck enjoys sharing her social knowledge with others and has conducted numerous social media trainings for national audiences. She is also an avid archer and can be seen bowhunting gators on Swamp People!

Lesa Vold

Lesa is the program manager & communications specialist at the Egg Industry Center located at Iowa State University. She is responsible for communications to several audiences including: egg producers and processors, media, government agencies, academic stakeholders and U.S. egg industry champions like the American Egg Board and the United Egg Producers.

Her specific duties include: creation of EIC’s overall branding and communications strategies; development of EIC communication materials including impact reports, newsletters, brochures, flyers, pamphlets, exhibit booths, business cards, a website, and three social media channels; administration of EIC’s competitive grant award program; strategic review and edit of EIC grant submissions to industry and government agencies; coordination of the center’s annual Egg Industry Issues Forum (held in various locations around the country each year); and general work with the center’s staff and advisory board to carry out the greater mission of the center.

Prior to working at the Egg Industry Center, Lesa worked in the private sector for 11-years as a program manager and then director of management systems. Lesa enjoyed the forward-thinking consulting and auditing environment where her specialty was development and implementation of national and international standards affecting agriculture and manufacturing. Her focus was strategic collaborative approaches to process identification and improvement. Her clients represented all livestock sectors, crop farms, food and beverage manufacturers, food packaging companies, tire manufacturers and others.

Lesa and her daughter are both graduates of Iowa State University. Lesa spends her free time assisting in the local church community as well as volunteering as the leader of the county fair horse project area and riding horses with her husband.

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