Alumni profile: LSC grad Sara Schoenborn leverages her education to achieve success in diverse fields

Graduates from the Department of Life Sciences Communication go on to have successful careers in a wide range of industries – partly because the knowledge they learn at LSC can be applied to a wide variety of jobs.  LSC alum, Sara Schoenborn (BS ’10) has used her expertise for a successful career.

Sara Schoenborn

After graduating, Sara pursued her dream of working in the media industry, working as the assistant editor for Agri-View, an agricultural newspaper in Wisconsin.  Sara, who was also a Dairy Science major, found the job to be a perfect mix of her passions. While at Agri-View, she put to use the skills she learned at LSC, including researching and writing stories with compelling narratives, creating a strong digital media footprint, and designing print layouts.  She also used the knowledge she learned in her classes to ensure she was portraying individuals in a fair and balanced way.

After approximately three years she decided it was time for a new challenge. In the spring of 2013, Sara became the executive director of Wisconsin FFA Foundation – an organization dedicated to making a positive difference in students’ lives through agricultural education. “I really viewed my job as a way to give back to an organization I was a part of while I was in high school. It was my opportunity to give back and carry on that tradition for other students,” Sara said.

During this time, Sara served as the face of the foundation, meeting with donors, overseeing day-to-day operations and reporting to the board of directors. While her position at FFA was different in scope to that at Agri-View, she continued to use the knowledge she gained through her LSC education.  “I was still using all those lessons that I learned in the classroom, just in a little bit different way,” notes Sara.

As for the field of agriculture, Sara notes how multidimensional the field can be. “The thing people don’t realize about agriculture is all of the opportunities that are available.  It isn’t just – as we sometimes say sows, cows, and plows – it’s genetics, food science, marketing, really anything you can think of that makes a business successful – that has ties to agriculture.  So, having an LSC degree really allows you to have those opportunities, particularly in the fields of marketing and communications. Really you need to be a good communicator to be a success in any industry.”

Today, Sara is the director of communications at Cooperative Network – an organization that protects and promotes co-ops in Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Sara excels at managing the organization’s strategic communications plan, overseeing event marketing initiatives, developing the company’s public relations, and serving as the external voice for the organization.  Along with her work, Sara is also pursuing a master’s degree in agri-business from Kansas State University. And while her current role entails a different set of responsibilities than those of her previous position, Sara can still pull from her education to ensure her success. “Every facet of my job involves skills I learned in LSC.”

Sara thanks many LSC faculty and staff for helping her succeed throughout her career. LSC professor and director of undergraduate studies, Shiela Reaves served as her advisor and according to Sara, she was always there for support.

“I was fortunate to take a few courses that I absolutely loved with tremendous staff members and professors at UW-Madison’s LSC Department.  Particularly, Patty Loew and Don Stanley – they were phenomenal and helped me so much.”

While Sara has already seen success in each of her positions, it is important to note her career is just beginning.  Where will it take her next?  Even Sara doesn’t know, but one thing is certain – the skills and knowledge she learned at LSC will help her succeed.