The UW-Madison chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) continued their longstanding tradition of excellence by finishing the academic year with a second place national win and nearly $10,000 in scholarships and awards.
The organization has a deep connection with the Department of Life Sciences Communication, which serves as its department sponsor. A faculty member of LSC, or Agricultural Journalism, as it was known until 2001, has advised the group since the UW-Madison chapter was established in 1980. A majority of the NAMA students are LSC majors.
“The students represented our department and university with pride, grace and good humor,” said LSC Faculty Associate Sarah Botham, the NAMA current advisor who has been in the role for 11 years. “I’m so incredibly proud of them individually and collectively for their incredible dedication and their many achievements.”
The team placed second overall in the NAMA National Marketing Competition on Friday, April 17. The students spend all year creating a marketing campaign for a not-yet-released agricultural product and then present their work at the competition.
“Placing second in the competition was an amazing and unforgettable experience,” said marketing team coordinator Jacob Becker. “There is nothing better than seeing all of your hard work and dedication come to fruition, especially in such a tough competition.”
The UW-Madison chapter began in 1980 with Professor Claron Burnett serving as advisor. It then went to Professor Hernando Gonzalez in 1983 before Professor Thomas Schomisch took over starting in 1987.
Schomisch was in this role for 17 years and had numerous successes. Under his advising, the UW-Madison NAMA chapter won Outstanding Chapter nine times and the marketing team was a finalist six times in the marketing plan competition.
Schomisch was named National Outstanding Advisor twice during his tenure. He retired in 2004 and was succeeded by Botham. Continuing LSC’s tradition of excellence, Botham was named National Outstanding Advisor for the 2007-2008 academic year. LSC was saddened when Schomisch pass away last year.
“It is very important for our students to have the opportunity to apply their knowledge in real-world settings,” said LSC Professor and Chair Dominique Brossard. “The NAMA chapter and the NAMA marketing competition are excellent contexts for this.”
This year, three students received scholarships from the Agri-Business Educational Foundation. Elizabeth Sarbacker was awarded $500 and Jaime Sawle and Sydney Endres were each awarded $1,000. Erica Ballmer received the $1,000 Beck Ag scholarship and the chapter was awarded the $2,000 John Deere Signature Award.
Also, Kate Griswold, this year’s chapter president, received the RC Ferguson scholarship. This is student NAMA’s highest honor and comes with $4,000. She is the first UW-Madison student to win the award in almost a decade.
“I was excited and in awe when I found out about the award,” Griswold said. “NAMA has given me so much and to be named the RC Fergie Ferguson Scholarship winner is an honor. I look forward to continuing the legacy of this scholarship with my career in agri-marketing.”
Freshman Micheala Slind just finished her first year with NAMA and said the experience has made her year months at UW-Madison unforgettable.
“NAMA has brought so many professionals into my life,” she said. “The professionalism and life-long skills I have gained in these past four months have been worth the late nights and early mornings. I wouldn’t trade these experiences or the people I have met and networked with for anything.”
The organization teaches important agri-marketing concepts such as market analysis, business propositions, action plans, product positioning, public relations, finances, monitoring and measuring, as well as logo and promotional material design. The members say classes in LSC give them a great set of knowledge to apply to competition. In the spring semester, students take LSC 477 with Botham to further prepare for competition.
“Creating a marketing campaign for a product and working on a team to accomplish goals are both things that happen on a daily basis in the world of agri-marketing,” added Griswold. “This team has become a family. We spend many hours preparing for competition throughout the fall and spring semesters. We had some late nights, good laughs and team bonding. I truly cherish the memories I have with this team.”