The University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) Office of Marketing and Communications recently added two individuals to its team – Reagan Brown and Ashley Craft. Brown has been named the CAFNR marketing communications coordinator. Craft’s new role is as the Extension communications strategist.
“We are so excited to add Reagan and Ashley to our team,” said Michelle Enger, director, CAFNR Office of Marketing and Communications. “Both bring unique skillsets and experiences that will help us expand how we talk about the outstanding things happening in CAFNR.”
Showcasing Missouri Agriculture
Brown joins CAFNR after spending the past five years as a marketing specialist at the Missouri Department of Agriculture. She earned her bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and public relations, and her master’s degree in agriculture, both at Murray State University (Murray, Kentucky).
Brown grew up on a row crop farm and worked cattle for several years while growing up in Kentucky, so a career in agriculture was a focus for her.
“Murray State had a strong agriculture program, and I really liked the smaller and more intimate setting,” Brown said. “My dad went to Murray as well, plus some of my aunts, so I have a long family history there. It made a lot of sense all the way around.”
Brown originally declared a major in agronomy. While she enjoyed crop identification and learning more about seeds, she was most excited about sharing information about the new technologies and seed advancements.
“I really wanted to pass that information to others, and I didn’t think I could get there with an agronomy degree,” Brown said. “So, I opened the degree book and found an emphasis area under ag science called communications and public relations. There was one person enrolled before I joined.
“I quickly learned how exciting agricultural communications could be. You can really make it your own.”
After finishing her degrees at Murray State, Brown served as a copy writer at Townsquare Media in Evansville, Indiana, before moving further west to Missouri to work for the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
“Agriculture is very diverse, and Missouri does a good job of showing that,” Brown said. “People are very creative and innovative, and it was interesting to learn more about their operations. I honestly learned as much from the farmers and producers across the state as I did from my classes. It was a different kind of learning.”
As the CAFNR marketing communications coordinator, Brown serves as the project manager and editor for a variety of communications initiatives.
“I was looking for something in agriculture and communications, which is not always easy to find,” Brown said. “It’s important to me to do both. The marketing communications coordinator position offered something new and different and will allow me to expand on what I already know.”
‘A Dream Job’
Craft is extremely familiar with CAFNR, as she earned her bachelor’s degree in science and agricultural journalism, and her master’s degree in agricultural communications, both from Mizzou. Craft worked with CAFNR Corner Post, as well as held an internship with MU Extension communications.
“When I first came to Mizzou, I was strictly interested in journalism,” Craft said. “I knew something was missing, though. I had a friend in CAFNR who suggested science and agricultural journalism. I fell in love with the program right away.
“That same friend took me to her family’s farm, and I had the opportunity to ask so many questions. It seemed like a good fit, and I felt like I had found that missing piece.”
Craft grew up in Kansas and didn’t have any experience with agriculture before coming to Mizzou.
“I was someone who honestly thought food just came from the grocery store,” Craft said. “Learning about agriculture was a culture shock. I wanted to take that information back home and tell everyone I could. I wanted to explain how great of an industry this really is.”
Craft most recently worked with the MU Sustainability Office as a program assistant where she promoted the various offered programs. Before that, along with her internship with MU Extension, she served as an education graduate assistant with MU Extension.
“The opportunity to work with MU Extension was incredible,” Craft said. “I was able to learn so much, as well as understand the history and see the evolution of the programs.
“When the position within CAFNR became available, I felt like I had found the perfect role. CAFNR and Extension have given so much to me, and I’m excited to work with both.”
As the Extension communications specialist, Craft supports internal communications and outreach efforts of the CAFNR Office of Extension, as well as highlights the work of Extension specialists both on campus and across the state.
“It’s a dream job to me,” Craft said. “As an undergraduate student, I wanted to jump right into Extension, but it wasn’t the right time, as I had more to learn about the industry and Extension. I’m excited to play a part in spreading Extension’s message now, though.”