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NMSU professor guides the next generation of agricultural communicators

  • By Nicole E. Drake
  • 575-646-3221
  • ndrake@nmsu.edu
  • May 09, 2022
Head and shoulders of a woman outside, in front of a pond.

Rows of faces look back at Shannon Norris as she teaches the fundamentals of agricultural communications and publications at New Mexico State University.

“Communicators are integrators,” Norris said. “We are often chameleons who seek to understand the needs of our audiences and our sources to tell a clear and compelling story. Communicators are often the people who seek the missing puzzle pieces and search for novel, yet simple, ways to tell a story.” 

Norris, an assistant professor in the Agricultural and Extension Education Department in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, teaches the Agricultural and Scientific Publications course – a class that provides students with real-world experiences and tools they need to produce published pieces.

“Agricultural and Scientific Publications is a practical, innovative, hands-on course that provides valuable experiences for students to publish in ACES Magazine,” Norris said. “Students who take this course gain experience in sourcing, writing, capturing and designing stories for an ACES audience.”

Norris said the size of the college and the makeup of its students, who bring different backgrounds, interests and passions, can create a challenge when covering primary considerations for publishing and uncovering stories that represent the college’s diversity.

“Many times, this challenge requires my students to step outside of their comfort zones and put on their investigator hats to find untold, newsworthy stories,” she said. “Our students overcome this challenge by leveraging the ACES network to uncover stories as well as having accountability partners in the course to make sure stories tell a broad, yet connected, story about ACES.”

Norris sees it as an honor to cover stories about ACES and NMSU.

“I believe in students, and I believe in their potential,” she said. “I believe effective communication intersects all careers, majors and walks of life. If we can provide tools for students to communicate more clearly, I think we can establish a springboard to help them reach success in all seasons of life.”

A native of Cliff, New Mexico, Norris grew up heavily involved in agricultural activities. She was active in 4-H and the National FFA Organization and served as the National FFA vice president from 2010 to 2011.

After graduating from NMSU in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural and extension education, Norris earned a master’s degree from Oklahoma State University in agricultural communications and a Ph.D. in agricultural leadership, education and communications from Texas A&M University.

Before joining NMSU in 2020, Norris developed a curricular framework outlining agricultural assessments in Middle Eastern conflict zones for the United States Army.

“I love this university, and I love our students,” she said. “I believe Aggies are some of the kindest, most resilient and hardest-working students in the nation. The College of ACES is a family, and I, personally, was profoundly impacted by the ACES family when I was a student. When an opportunity to work and give back to my alma mater became available, I jumped.”

A version of this story was first published in the spring 2022 issue of ACES Magazine. To read the issue, visit nmsu.link/aces-magazine.