Erica Irlbeck (Allied Industry member, Lubbock, TX) and a group of college students are working with the National Ranching Heritage Center to produce a mini documentary on the 2011 drought and the impact it had on the agricultural industry. Erica is an assistant professor of agricultural communications at Texas Tech University. She is teaching two courses this summer: video production and advanced imaging and design. During the regular term, she teaches three courses: Video Production in Agriculture, Agricultural Communications Campaigns and Professional Development. Her research interests are risk and crisis communications, agriculture in television media and agricultural communications campaigns. Erica started her duties in September 2009 after earning her Doctor of Education degree in agricultural education from Texas Tech. Prior to her academic career, she worked in agricultural television news for AgDay Television and KLBK-TV (Lubbock, TX), farm radio for Clear Channel Networks, public relations and advertising.

NAFB Executive Director Tom Brand and his wife, Beth, became involved with the American Heart Association (AHA) following Tom’s heart attack and bypass surgery in 2013. Tom personally set a goal to raise $2,500 at the Heart Walk recently in St. Joseph, MO, and currently his effort has raised $2,300.

The first NAFB Leadership Academy convened in Washington D.C. just prior to Washington Watch. Farm News Director Sabrina Hill (AgNet West Radio Network, Sanger, CA) wrote about her experience in a blog which we are excerpting here. “This was my first year attending Washington Watch. I was the only representative of California in the group, and it’s always fun for me to meet up with cohorts from the Midwest and other areas,” she said. “This year was also the inaugural NAFB leadership class, and I had the honor of being one of the nine people in the class.”

John McDonald was inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame May 2 in Murfreesboro, TN. NAFB Executive Director Tom Brand responded to a request from the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame for more information about John, who was 1956 President of the National Association of Television and Radio Farm Directors (NATRFD) and was named to the NAFB Hall of Fame in 1992.

During Washington Watch (April 27), The Doan award, honoring excellence in reporting agriculture, was awarded to Michelle Rook, managing farm director at WNAX (Yankton, SD). This is the inaugural year for The Doan. Presented by the NAFB Foundation, through a gift from Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc., The Doan is named after Stewart Doan, a farm broadcaster and senior editor at Agri-Pulse, who passed away suddenly in May 2012. He was known for his passion for politics and determination for delivering breaking farm and rural policy news. Doan's reporting on issues affecting farmers and consumers is missed by the entire agriculture community. He served as NAFB president in 1998.