Cassie Jo Colliflower Arend graduated from Ohio State in 2006 with a degree in agricultural communication. Growing up in Mechanicsburg, Ohio, Cassie Jo now calls Paulding, Ohio home where she works as the corporate communications manager for Cooper Farms.
[ACEL]: Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
[Arend]: The thing I loved the most about Ohio State from the first time I visited, was how you could be at such a large university, in a big city, and still feel like you are part of a close-knit community.
Why did you select your major/graduate program?
I didn’t go into college knowing that I wanted to work in communications, or even agriculture. I started with a major in exercise physiology of all things! After my first quarter (yes, we were still on quarters then), I realized that I needed to change paths. All three of my roommates happened to be agricultural communication majors, so I had the chance to learn about their goals and it was intriguing. I’ve always been creative and loved writing and I had grown a passion for agriculture, so it seemed like a perfect fit.
How were you involved in campus activities as a student?
I was a member of the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Saddle and Sirloin Club, Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority and Towers Agricultural Honorary.
What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education and career?
Dr. Mark Tucker and Mr. Tom Stewart both impacted me greatly. Dr. Tucker served as my advisor and helped me to determine my path, internships and so much more. Tom Stewart showed me, and many others, the possibilities of our chosen career path and helped us to see it’s real-world application. Both of the men also had an evident desire to help all of us succeed. That not only helped me in my college career, but taught me a lot about leadership.
What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
My favorite memory is the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow’s trip to New York City. Not only was it fun, but we learned so much and had opportunities to learn about marketing, public relations and television that we could never get outside of that setting.
What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
I started at Cooper Farms right out of college. Over the past nearly 11 years, the job has grown and morphed into something I only dreamed of when I started. What no one was certain would even fill one full-time job, has become a department of five helping the company to communicate in all areas.
As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
The most memorable experience of my career would have to be when Cooper Farms raised the turkey that would be pardoned at the White House before Thanksgiving in 2014. Gary Cooper was the Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, a position that also holds the privilege of presenting the turkey to the President. We were well aware that raising the “Presidential Turkey” as we dubbed it, wasn’t an everyday occurrence, so we worked to make the most of a time when people would be interested to learn more about turkeys and turkey meat.
In preparation, a special, small barn was constructed in June, to show the details of a full-size barn, while eliminating biosecurity risks. Then three of us spent the better part of two months “talking turkey” throughout the state of Ohio. We hosted hundreds of students at the barn and also took a few turkeys on road trips to Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati city schools. It was a truly rewarding experience to get to see the kids’ eyes light up as they saw the turkeys in person and learned about them and the Presidential Turkey Pardon.
To top it all off, I then had the surreal honor of attending the ceremony inside the White House. Touring the main floor of the White House and sitting feet away from President Obama is something I will never forget.
What advice would you give to a current student?
Do as many relevant internships as you can. Internships will help you to see the application from the classroom to your career and it will provide you with tools for your future. I learned so much through my internships, writing for The Lantern and my job in CFAES Government Relations I still apply to this day.
What did ACEL cultivate in you?
ACEL cultivated a deeper passion for sharing the story of farming and agriculture. My time in the CFAES also cultivated relationships and connections that have impacted my life. I love seeing the many ways that I connect with friends from college through my job today. I’m so happy I took the path I did many years ago!