2016 Vol. 100, No. 3
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Welcome to ACE

Congratulations, Robert Casler
ACE Professional Award Winner

Robert's Acceptance Remarks:

Thank you, Steve. I would also like to express my appreciation to those involved in my selection. Reviewing the list of previous awardees, I am reminded of the contributions many others have made to this organization which enabled it to thrive for over a century. It is an honor to be included with them.  

Having recently retired, I have had an opportunity to recall the high points of my career, and in particular the role that ACE has played.

For the first nine or so years that I worked in agricultural communications, I did not receive support to attend ACE conferences due to my job classification. When I attended my first conference in Miami, I was expecting to meet a very tight-knit group of professionals. Instead I discovered a group of peers who understood what I did, appreciated the challenges I faced and were eager to share their solutions.

Coming from a state that has been referred to as not “blessed” because we lack significant financial clout in D.C., our funding has always been dwarfed by states in many other regions, and as a result our staffing was significantly leaner. Yet in ACE I have never felt marginalized. Because of the professional development opportunities provided by ACE, I was always able to bring home a new perspective that challenged administrators there to think bigger.

I also discovered early on that anyone willing to step up and contribute to the health of the organization would be welcomed as an equal. As a consequence, I benefitted from leadership opportunities I would never have had on campus. Hosting a regional meeting in Tucson in 1996 in particular was a transformative experience for me.

Looking back I can honestly say that the relationships I have made through ACE far outweigh any made in my college activities. I believe this is because we are people who speak the same language. In contrast with the scientists and administrators I regularly interacted with, we are a group of creative types. We often spend so much effort emphasizing the accuracy and objectivity of our work that we underestimate the value of the creative spirit that sets us apart. This is something that was brought home to me recently when a colleague on campus shared a quote by NPR personality Ira Glass that you might be familiar with:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me.

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good.

It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.

A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this.

And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.

And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

To me ACE is an “equal opportunity motivator.”

  • You may not be programmed to be a dynamic presenter before a large group at a workshop or breakout session.
  • You may be better equipped to keep a team motivated and on track, 
  • or you may be the person who can make critical corrections to a final edit.
  • You may be capable of making a video narrative inspiring,  
  • or creating an elegant work flow.
  • Or you may be the one that brings originality to an Extension bulletin that is neither necessary nor appreciated by the readers.

ACE gives you an opportunity to reach an audience that recognizes the value you bring to a project.

I worked with someone who liked to say that a fire fighter shouldn’t expect accolades for putting out a fire, because they are just doing their job. Your peers in ACE will recognize when you are not just doing your job! And more importantly they will push you to satisfy your most demanding critic – yourself.

ACE Award Winners 2017

ACE Professional Award

Robert Casler

Reuben Brigham Award

Forrest Laws

Award of Excellence, Academic Programs

Courtney Gibson 


Award of Excellence, Leadership and Management

Ruth Borger

Award of Excellence, Marketing

Doug Edlund 


Award of Excellence, Publishing and Graphic Design

Ana Henke

Award of Excellence, Research

Lulu Rodriguez

Pioneer Award

Randy LaBauve

Pioneer Award

Scott Swanson

Critique & Awards Program Winners

2017 Complete Program Book

Thank you to everyone who voted for the newest members of the ACE Board of Directors.

Please join me in congratulating the following:

  • Doug Edlund from the University of Tennessee will join the board as our new vice president
  • Lori Greiner, Virginia Tech, will serve as director-elect for Learning Communities.
  • Tobie Blanchard, LSU AgCenter Communications and LSU College of Agriculture, is our new director-elect for membership.
  • Linda Benedict, recently retired from LSU AgCenter, is the new retiree director-elect.

Steve Miller, ACE President


©2017 Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences
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