AG CAREER PROFILES: WHAT DOES AN AG GRAPHIC DESIGNER DO?

Sharon Dodd began her career with Illinois Farm Bureau fifteen years ago in September of 2000.  She is a multi-talented individual with a passion for visual communication.

DEIDRA: How did you become who you are today—what did you do to get here?

6-9-16Dodd (Newton)_Sharon 2x3 11 (1)SHARON: I didn’t have an Agriculture background.  I worked at Kruger Marketing in Champaign before applying to Illinois Farm Bureau.  I worked hard to get where I am.  I paid my way through college, and I learned how competitive graphic design really is.  I worked as an Art Director, Ad Layout Artist, and a Typesetter for the Daily Vidette, a student newspaper at ISU.  I was an art major and a print management minor.  I did a lot of “spec” art, and I focused on the marketing side of the newspaper.  When I worked with Kreuger, I learned a lot about agriculture.  During meetings I would sit and listen to everything, absorbing it all.  I didn’t realize until later how much all of that would really help.

DEIDRA: What are some of the challenges and some of the rewards you face on a typical day?

SHARON: The rewards are the people in agriculture.  I like being a voice and an advocate for agriculture.  I like seeing results, seeing people smile from my work.  The challenge is that there is a lot of communication.  We’re trying to change legislative issues and the perception of agriculture.  It’s hard to see results and it can feel overwhelming.  We have to constantly keep putting that voice out there—creating and communicating agriculture.

DEIDRA: What are some of your favorite tools of the trade?

SHARON: I like Mac computers and the Adobe Creative Suite.  Photoshop is my all time favorite, and then second is InDesign.  I use Dreamweaver and other web tools, but they aren’t my favorite.  Photography is a huge inspiration.

DEIDRA: When drafting a project design, can you describe the process you go through to come up with your solution?

ag_graphic_designerSHARON: The first step is getting the content together.  If there is a marketing person involved, I really like to get the content and get a feel for how it’s being laid out.  Who am I talking to?  What is my point?  I like to be in the reader’s shoes.  How can I engage them in a brochure or a social media post?  I am a common sense designer, and I don’t like confusion.

After getting the content, I need to find out what the theme is.  I like to sit on a project for about 24 hours.  When you let your brain process you would be surprised what the next day brings in.  When I get a layout started, sometimes I will do a rough [draft] but won’t do the entire thing.  I will communicate with the marketing people and see their reactions, work with them for corrections, and try to get the right design for the project.

When I make a concept, I try to look for anything that can help.  I’m not afraid to ask questions to get the right idea, and I am comfortable drafting a concept in person.  I feel like a channel between the people and I have a good idea of what they are thinking and communicating.

DEIDRA: What would you say has been one of your biggest accomplishments as a graphic designer?

SHARON: The next generation excites me, they are savvy and in it together; I am excited about young leaders and “Ag in the Classroom.”  I know there are legislative issues, but I feel like I am making a difference here.

DEIDRA: What kind of advice would you give to an aspiring graphic designer?

SHARON: The number one thing is to be a good communicator and a good listener.  If you’re negative, or if people can’t brainstorm with you, or if you are afraid of change then it will set you back.  You need to be adaptable because technology is constantly changing.  The second thing is you have to be creative.  If advertising, photography, or art inspires you, if it’s driving you, then all you need is to communicate.

Are you considering a career in agriculture?
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Deidra Sonnemaker
Graphic Design Intern

THE DETOX DIET: DEBUNKED

5-24-16detoxBody detoxification diets, also known as body cleanses, have risen to the top of the most popular fads list as people are attempting to discover the miracle cure to shredding their unwanted pounds. These detoxes claim to be the answer to finally getting that dream body while also ridding your body of unhealthy and unwanted toxins that may be lurking around. So is it true? Is a detox diet the miracle you have been searching for? Research reveals that these popular fads can actually do more harm than good, and here’s why.

Detoxing is a myth. The idea that a person can actually flush all the toxins and impurities out of their organs by drinking a healthy fruit/vegetable/vitamin packed liquid is not realistic, it’s a scam. That’s what the kidneys, liver, skin, and even lungs are for. That’s their responsibility. If toxins did hide out and hang out in the body like these detox fads like to claim, some serious medical treatment would be in the near future.

Mental and physical health. These types of diets are meant to be short-term, if anything. Depending on the type of detox diet, hunger and weakness can vary drastically. Many people have reported significant changes in energy level, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and even low blood sugar while participating in a detox type diet due to the low-calorie cut and change in eating habits. Dropped levels in blood sugar especially can be life-threatening for people with diabetes or other medical conditions.

Toxins… are poisonous. The definition of ‘toxins’ according to the United States National Library of Medicine is, “substances created by plants and animals that are poisonous to humans.” If the organs are already doing their job and ridding the body of what’s not supposed to be in it, detoxes are not going to help organs do a more “superb” job.

Weight loss. Although a person may lose weight while participating in a detox, the weight lost is often gained back after returning to a regular diet. Healthy diet and exercise is the only surefire way to lose weight safely and effectively.

Cost. Popular detox diets can be extremely costly, and quite overpriced for the return on investment.

In today’s world, there are so many trends and fads that aren’t backed by any scientific research or evidence. Dig deeper into these controversial issues, whether it be diet trends, organic vs. conventional, GMO vs. non-GMO, etc. Do your research, find the reliable sources, and don’t be tricked by the misconceptions presented across the media.

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Carli Miller
University of Illinois

#TBT: 10 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FAMILY & CORPORATE FARMERS

Originally published: June 2, 2015
1. Tractor SunsetFamily farmers start working at sunrise and don’t stop until well after sunset.Corporate farmers work a 9 to 5 job.

2. Family farmers enjoy a family picnic in the field. Corporate farmers eat lunch with executives and other co-workers.

3. Family farmers work all summer to prepare for harvest. Corporate farmers have the time to take a vacation anywhere they desire.

Boy caring calf 4. Over half of family farmers have a full-time job and farm as a hobby because it’s their true passion. Corporate farmers make plenty “farming.”

5. Family farmers are interested in the good of the animals and the community. Corporate farmers are interested in money and profits.

6. Family farmers try to put an emphasis on conservation practices. Corporate farmers focus mainly on business practices.

7. Family farmers know that Paul Harvey was correct about why “God Made a Farmer” Corporate farmers believe that it was just a Super Bowl commercial meant to sell trucks.

FFA Awards8. Family farmers know the importance of FFA to allow students to develop “premier leadership, personal growth, and career success.” Corporate farmers only see a group of kids in a blue corduroy jacket.

9. Family farmers are able to diversify themselves with many crops or animals to manage the risk of the prices dropping. Corporate farmers usually deal with only one area of the market.

10. Family farmers live a lifestyle, versus corporate farmers only have a job.

As you can see there is no such thing as a corporate farmer that actually does the farming. There are corporate owned farms, but the farmers actually doing the planting, harvesting, and maintenance are the down-to-earth family farmers. According to the USDA about 93% of farming operations in the United States are family run, leaving only 7% being owned by corporations. How many times have you seen a man in a suit planning corn? If you can’t think of any you probably never have because that would be memorable!

Jessica ProbstJessica Probst
Missouri State Universtiy