When I first found out I would be taking a graphic design class as one of my major requirements, I was a little worried. I tend to be more of an analytical thinker, so I was concerned that I would struggle with the creative aspect of graphic design. However, much to my delight, the creative process is surprisingly logical.
The logo of an imaginary company I created for my graphic design class
For our first assignment, we learned to use InDesign to create vector graphics for a logo of a company (real or made up) of our choice. We learned how to work with typography and color theory to make a cohesive product and how to avoid making common design mistakes. The two big pieces of advice were: one, keep it simple; and two, if you don’t know how to do something, google it.
All in all, I came to realize that there was no big mystery or need for mystical creative powers to be able to be good at graphic design. Graphic design, like anything, is a skill that I was able to learn.
On October 18, 2017 I attended a screening of Food Evolution, a documentary about the issues surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the difficulty that scientists face when trying to combat the misinformation and fear that has been spread. The screening was followed by a Q&A session with Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, an Animal Genomics and Biotechnology Cooperative Extension Specialist at the University of California, Davis. The screening and Q&A session was sponsored by the OSU Food Science Club and Citation Needed.
Food Evolution Screening and Discussion with Dr. Alison Van Eenenaam
The movie started with a quote from Mark Twain: “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” Watching this movie I, as an Agricultural Communications major, felt a rising sense of dread as I saw just how much truth that quote holds. I’m glad I went to this event because I think it has given me a clearer idea of what some of the challenges I’ll face in my career are and what some methods of addressing those challenges are.
The food evolution website states that “GMOs had become a metaphor for almost every issue we have with food and our food system and we wanted to explore if that metaphor had any merit or scientific truth to it. And perhaps, by better understanding the GMO debate, we would be able to make more informed decisions about science and technology in general. No matter the topic.”
My biggest takeaway was something that Dr. Van Eenannaam said during the Q&A session. She said that the urge a lot of scientists have is to simply provide people with more data and more facts and information, because that is what scientists find convincing. I tend to be a very analytical thinker, so I share that same urge to just beat people over the head with hard facts until they are dazed, confused, and slightly afraid. However, the best way to communicate with a wider audience with less scientific inclinations, Dr. Van Eenannaam has learned through years of trial and, according to her, a lot of error, is to emphasize shared values. In the instance of GMOs, that value is the shared desire to feed the world nutritious food in a sustainable way.
Jane Hulse is an Agricultural Communications major, with minors in International Economic Development, Professional Writing, and Philosophy. She takes a special interest in the issues surrounding food security around the world and has pursued that interest through her work with the World Food Prize as both a Borlaug Scholar and a Wallace-Carver Fellow. Her recent Wallace-Carver Fellowship at the Functional Foods Research Unit of the USDA-ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, Illinois, gave her the opportunity to gain experience writing a literature review paper on how fermentation affects the nutritional composition of bean flour. Jane also presented her research on The Effects of Fermentation on Phaseolus vulgaris L., Fabaceae at the Fall Forum at Ohio State. Currently, Jane is the CFAES Student Council Liaison for Citation Needed, a club focused on teaching students how to effectively communicate about the issues surrounding food and agriculture. Jane’s ultimate goals are to get a PhD in communications and to use her research, writing, and presentation skills to work towards a more food secure future.
During my senior year of high school, I completed my Girl Scout Gold Award project. My project was a science-based cookbook targeted to young girls that explains the chemistry of how the food we eat interacts with the human body. The hope was that the book will help girls form a healthy relationship with food by showcasing food as a tool/fuel to help them achieve their dreams. Another hope was that by explaining the chemistry in an interesting way, the book would get young girls interested in science. The book is made up of submissions of recipes and ‘rants’ from middle to high school aged girls who have a variety of interests and whose voices shine through in their writing.
The idea for this project was born in part from my involvement with the World Food Prize Youth Program through which I learned about issues surrounding food insecurity, including malnutrition. I learned that malnutrition can be present even in countries where food security may not be an obvious problem. Within my community, I noted that young girls would often have poor diets or try to not eat, to achieve what they perceived to be society’s definition of beauty.
Completing this project helped me grow as a writer and a leader because I got a lot of practice writing my own sections, organizing and editing submissions, designing the pages and sections, and coordinating with the people who agreed to help – as well as corralling those who had agreed to help but had poor follow-through. I also grew a lot as a communicator as I worked (and continue to work) on my outreach efforts, which included contacting local eating disorder clinics, coaches, doctors’ offices, high schools, and girl scout troops to give them free copies of the book and information on how to download it for free online. I continue to run a blog and Facebook page through which people can download the book and read new posts.
Writing this book helped me realize I wanted to pursue communications in relation to food and nutrition. I really enjoyed the process of taking a complicated subject like chemistry and presenting it in a way that was interesting, entertaining, and easy to understand. My work on this book also helped me to see how I could continue my leadership role in empowering young girls. Realizing the goals of the World Food Prize Youth Programs and Girl Scouts have much in common, this past summer I met with the World Food Prize Youth Programs Director and the Senior Program Advisor at my local Girl Scout Council headquarters to discuss a collaboration between the two programs.