ACE Retirees Update
We have a large group of retirees who are celebrating significant anniversary years in their ACE membership. So this newsletter honors their longevity and dedication. After all, it’s not just the number of years. It’s their commitment each and every year to ACE, their profession and ACE friends. I asked each of them to send you a message and many of them responded.
The longest tenure of all goes to Jack Sperbeck for 50 years as an ACE member. 50 years! When I joined ACE as a lowly editorial assistant at the University of Nebraska in the ‘70s, Jack and Joe Marks were the cool guys who showed the rest of us how to succeed in agricultural journalism. They also had a whole lot of fun. No telling how many of us stayed with ACE because of them.
Since this is my last newsletter as your director, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for allowing me to serve you, and especially to responding when I throw out a question or topic. I have never been at a loss for copy. Not many editors can say that!
In a few weeks, incoming director Linda Benedict and I will attend the board meetings in Scottsdale, cheer on the award winners, offer a giant thank you to Holly Young for her service to ACE as executive director and drink a toast to all of you. Cheers!
Janet Rodekohr, ACE Retiree Director
A Quarter Century: Robert Casler
Still Leading and Learning: Martha Filipic
A 45-Year Connection: Garvin Quinn
Traveling On: Anita Povich
The Half Century Mark: Jack Sperbeck
Last Call for Silent Auction Items
Introducing Linda Benedict
Nine ACE retirees will be honored at the conference in Scottsdale as they celebrate significant years of membership in ACE. President Suzanne Steele will present certificates during the ACE business meeting Tuesday, August. 6.
25 Years: Robert Casler
30 Years: Elaine Edwards and Martha Filipic
35 Years: Dan Rahn and Ellen Maurer
45 Years: Garvin Quinn, Anita Povich and Gene Hettel
50 Years: Jack Sperbeck
I hadn’t been retired a year yet when I was asked to assist with planning the 2018 ACE/AMS conference. I could certainly be helpful on local arrangements, and as a member of ACE for many years it would be hard to decline. But was I ready to re-enter the world of agendas, assignments, conference calls and deadlines? My loyalty to ACE won out, and it wasn’t long before I remembered how refreshing it has always been to work with ACE members. From the outset everyone on the program committee was cooperating, volunteering and supporting one another. In short, it has been this attitude of cooperation, creativity and commitment that has been consistent throughout my 25 years with ACE. We would often explain the role of agricultural communications to our colleagues as ”we make you look good.” I think the ACE version of this could be “we make each other look good.”
I must admit I was surprised when I was informed I would be getting my 30-year membership certificate at the ACE conference this year. I hardly feel 30 years older than when I joined! I remember my first department head, Larry Whiting, strongly encouraging me to join the organization and attend ACE conferences -- before I even figured out what “agricultural communications” really meant. After all, I was raised in the suburbs, graduated from journalism school and worked at a small newspaper for four years before joining the ag comm team at Ohio State, and I wasn’t 100 percent certain that I would remain in the College of Agriculture for my entire career. Well, I should have been. It wasn’t long before I felt fortunate to have landed where I was. Not only did I feel the writing and media relations work I did was important for the university, I knew I was advancing the cause of research and outreach that was making a real difference in people’s lives. And a big plus: I was doing so in an environment that encouraged me to stretch my wings and take on leadership roles even without an official leadership position in the department.
Since I retired last year, I’ve been busy helping plan this year’s ACE conference and doing some freelance editing. My house is a smidge cleaner than it used to be, I’m a bit more active in my church, and I’m helping my husband Tony more with the gardening and yard work. And we are enjoying some travel: We were able to take a fabulous trip last fall to Ireland and Northern Ireland, followed by a cruise with friends down the Rhine from Amsterdam to Lucerne. Then we took a train over to Salzburg and Vienna, and capped off our trip with eight days in Spain. At one day short of seven weeks, there were times when I felt the trip was a bit too long, but in the end there wasn’t one day I would have cut out. We likely won’t take a huge trip like that again, but in May we spent about a week in Colorado for my stepson’s wedding, and we’re planning some sojourns down South and out West in the next year or two.
Now that the ACE conference planning is coming to an end, I’m gearing up with some old classmates to help plan my 40th high school reunion in 2019. I guess I like this kind of work! I’m so grateful to have the time and energy to devote to helping people stay connected, at least in some small ways.
After being notified of recognition for 45 years of ACE membership, I took a few moments to reflect on that milestone. What can be said about the last 45 years? One after another, technological advances opened new communications-related alternatives for us. Our challenges included keeping up with those media-related advances. Anyone remember when we shot 16 mm film for television pieces? (Actually, I’m glad that era passed.) The organization acronym was AAACE when I first joined.
I have great memories of friends and colleagues from across the country who were always willing to share ideas and philosophies. I believe the emphasis on helping each other has always been an important strength of ACE. I am particularly thankful for those persons who guided me early in my career and who showed all of us the way. ACE interaction was particularly beneficial to me as I assumed administrative positions later in my career.
We enjoy living in Stillwater, Oklahoma. When I retired six years ago, my wife Clarice and I decided that we will travel as much as possible as long as we can. In fact, when we are home for a lengthy period of time, we start to get restless for travel as we add to our bucket list for must-visit destinations. Most recently, we traveled to Hawaii, but we still have many places to go and much to see. We’ve done extensive “cruising” plus we periodically plan trips to various locales throughout the country. Travel has given me additional incentives to cultivate my video and still photography interests. The fun comes from not having to finish projects on strict and unforgiving deadlines such as those faced by communicators still on the job.
Today’s and tomorrow’s ACE communicators will discover new and different strategies to help meet communications goals. I hope ACE members continue to enjoy the benefits of collaboration and sharing just as I did (for 45 years).
Some Tradewinds History. I joined AAACE , now ACE, in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1973. Our tiny University of Hawaii agricultural communications office was about to host the national meeting in 1975. Jim Holderness, our director, a former Extension agent in Vietnam, was nervously gearing up for a gathering of communications experts from East and West. So three of us traveled to Purdue University in 1974 to give our program presentation at the annual meeting. Somehow, we managed to convince Hawaiian Airlines to send their hula troupe to Purdue’s student union, where they performed hulas and chants with grass skirts swaying to accompanying ukulele strumming.
I still wonder how we convinced Hawaiian Airlines to join us in West Lafayette! And the following year, I wasn’t surprised to see all the ACE members from the mainland who hopped on stage to learn the hula from local experts. Those two meetings are among my favorites for their innocence and innovation.
Gratitude. In the way students profusely thank their mentors and instructors at graduation, I thank ACE for giving me 45 years of education and experience. This could only happen with outstanding members and mentors, folks who give their time and expertise to newbie ACEers. I’m sure you have your own list of names, but I’ll mention some from my list: Jim Evans, Bob Kern, Lorraine Kingdon, Pat Loudon, Joe Marks, Terry Meisenbach, and Mason Miller. They’re just of few of the great leaders in ACE history who reached out and mentored us.
If I mention more men than women, for a time in ACE history there were many more men in ACE leadership positions. The Honolulu meeting, for example, had five or six women on the program compared with the numerous male presenters.
Other favorite memories I enjoyed were listening to President Ronald Reagan address us in the White House Rose Garden and shaking hands with President Bill Clinton after he joined us for a luncheon during his tenure. Charisma was in the air! In the past, ACE meetings took place every four years in Washington, D.C. as we joined other communications groups at the Congress of Agricultural Communicators. The first one took place in 1984.
Off to Mexico. In 1981 I joined the CIMMYT staff in Mexico, working with Bob Kern. We started a conversation with ACE to create an international-interests committee, comparable with ACE’s former SIGs. At the end of the annual meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, we held an extra day of sessions to explore communications jobs for agricultural development around the world. Around 100 ACE members interacted with members from CIAT, ICARDA, CIP, IITA, USAID, and Winrock International.
Mason Miller offered Winrock International as headquarters, Jo Ann Pryor was executive secretary, and we were up and running. At the time, many ACE members were interested in international assignments. The creation of this group grew out of efforts by Don Esslinger, Jim Evans, Cordell Hatch, Bryant Kearl, Bob Kern, and Walt Rockwood.
I mention their names because they demonstrate the spirit characterizing ACE, the way in which Linda Benedict wrote of ACE adopting distance learning in 1993; how Valorie McAlpin urged members to embrace the information highway; and how Jim Evans, once called the life force behind the early ACE, initiated satellite technology in the classroom, interactive video teleconferencing, and computer technologies supporting the University of Illinois and former agricultural communications and journalism programs.
As I said before, you’ll have your own list of outstanding ACE members from the past to the present. So before I sign off, I’ll mention Janet Rodekohr and her cast of performers who entertained onstage at the Cleveland meeting. Ask Janet about the skit and the dancing, all followed by a zealous twist contest giving ACEers a chance to show their moves (and sprain an ankle or two).
What I originally meant to say about myself. I’ve published four short stories in the past five years, danced the twist at a New Year’s Eve contest with my grandchildren, and joined in various protest marches. I just sold my tiny brick bungalow in Champaign, Illinois, and am planning a move to Rancho Santa Margarita, California in late August. I love driving cross country, especially on bits and pieces of route 66. And I’m definitely looking forward to joining retirees at an ACE meeting down the road!
Oh yes, 50 years......It would be neat to make the ACE meeting, but it's not in the cards for us. Judy and I have grown children and six grandchildren on two coasts — New York and Seattle — and the majority of our travels involve seeing them. Thankful we are able to see them as much as we do, but it's never enough!
Busy this summer watching grandson play Little League baseball. He's very good of course! I feel very fortunate to be able to do that. Four years ago I had esophageal cancer, major surgery and a long recovery.
Last night we were in downtown St. Paul and drove by the hotel where we had the 1990 ACE meeting. I believe all of you were there. I remember sweating bullets raising sponsorship money, but ultimately met the goal with the help of a very detailed, thorough briefing book supplied by Gwil Evans, Oregon State, host of the 1989 meeting. As you well know those were the twilight years of getting commercial sponsorship for our meetings. ACE was a huge part of my active membership life, and I have so many fond memories.
I had so many friends in ACE. At one time I knew practically all ACE members who attended annual meetings...and the regional meetings of yesteryear. Yes. times change.
Donna Sheffield (Development Fund Director) is seeking donations for the ACE Development Fund Silent Auction. The annual fundraising event will take place August 6-7 at the Ag Media Summit. It will be combined with the Agricultural Relations Council-AMS auction. Proceeds will go to fund student scholarships and professional development opportunities for ACE members.
In past auctions handcrafted items, original artwork, jewelry, gift baskets, local foods, wines, and adult beverages have brought top dollar. We appreciate your originality and thoughtfulness in support of a good cause. (My painting shows the Scottsdale sky during our fall board meeting. - Janet)
Not sure what to do? Make a cash donation and let us shop for you. ARC staff and volunteers will select an item equal the amount of your donation. Make your check payable to ARC and include ARC-AMS-ACE Auction in the memo. Mail your check to the following address: ARC, 605 Columbus Ave. South, New Prague, MN 56071
Linda Benedict is an ACE hero. She served as ACE president from 1992 to 1994, stepping in to serve an extra year when President Gary Hermance tragically died in office. She announced her retirement last year and came to the presidents’ reception in New Orleans, where Bob Furbee and I immediately ambushed her and asked her to serve as Retiree Director-elect. She didn’t hesitate. She said yes before she even thought to ask what was involved.
That’s Linda’s commitment to ACE.
She will begin her term as retiree director at the Scottsdale meeting.
I’m looking forward to being the ACE retiree director,” Linda says. “Janet Rodekohr has shown me the ropes, and I’m going to do my best to carry on what she has started—more communication among retirees, more opportunities to make connections, more life members. ACE offers lifetime learning. Life membership is the ribbon that ties together the gift package that is ACE.
Please help me welcome Linda onboard.
August 4-8, 2018: Ag Media Summit join meeting with ACE, Scottsdale, Arizona
June 24-27, 2019: ACE Conference, San Antonio, Texas