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Photo Courtesy of the Visual Production Center: WIU student and Canton (IL) native is one of only 21 students across the United States selected for the FFA's National Collegiate Agricultural Ambassador positions.
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WIU Student Selected as National Collegiate Ag Ambassador

October 14, 2008

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MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University student Ashley Mason will be a bit busier this academic year. A junior in WIU's agriculture department, the 20-year Canton (IL) native has recently been named a National Collegiate Agricultural Ambassador by the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) organization. The honor will propel her on travels across the country to tell the story of the importance of the agricultural industry.

Mason is one of only 21 college students across the U.S. -- hailing from such schools as Iowa State University, Kansas State University, California State University - Fresno and Mississippi State University -- to be named to the national position.

According to the FFA, the selected applicants present information to high school and college classes, as well as to community, youth and civic groups, about such agricultural industry topics as economic importance, agricultural careers, environmental stewardship, sustainable agricultural practices and sound science.

"These agricultural ambassador positions help people understand that their milk doesn't just come from the grocery store," noted Andrew Baker, professor in Western's agriculture department. "There are many facets of agriculture, and there are many opportunities in the agriculture field for young people. It is a growing industry, comprising 20 percent of the U.S. gross national product. Ashley will help our department and WIU through her association with our institution. I also think she will be an exceptional ambassador because of her passion for the industry."

The rigorous ambassadorship will require Mason to give at least 25 presentations and/or workshops concerning agriculture awareness. She noted that this experience will not only help her learn more about her industry, but it will also help her become a better educator, as she has plans to teach agriculture at the high school level after she graduates from WIU.

"I think the program is going to be demanding, but I think it will make me more confident when I enter the teaching field," Mason said.

According to Baker, Mason is the second student from WIU's ag department to be selected for the FFA National Collegiate Ambassadorship. In 2006, Matthew Meyer was selected for the position and was again selected for one of the coveted positions in 2007.

To contact Mason for agricultural presentations, e-mail her at

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (
Office of University Communications & Marketing