McKay film honored at UCEA Festival

“Everyday, nearly 900,000 agricultural professionals go to work in the United States. Every one of these professionals has a story.” These are the first words of Troy McKay’s film “The Minnesota Model: Developing Leaders in Agricultural Education and Communication.” McKay, CHS digital media instructor for CFANS Agricultural Education, Communication and Marketing at the University of Minnesota has been selected to present his film at the University Council for Education Administration (UCEA) 7th Annual Film Festival in Houston, Texas this November. The film was chosen by panel members on three main criteria: relevance to current education leadership issues and the convention theme, potential to create dialogue, and the quality of film-making. Only a handful of films are selected, which is why McKay is excited that his film was chosen.

McKay’s film describes the Minnesota Model, which is an initiative with the goal of making the University of Minnesota a leader in delivery methods and engagement techniques regarding agricultural education. Focusing on engagement, innovation, and outreach, the Minnesota Model will create a network of students and agricultural educators who can use digital media to communicate about science-based topics important to agriculture. McKay said, “There are 1,000 different things that students can do with this skill set.The most important thing in today’s workplace is being a leader, which means solving problems and communicating solutions.”

McKay percolated the idea of creating a film for the UCEA Film Festival for several years. Although he discovered the film festival while working on his dissertation and researching how film and education connect, he did not have the time or a topic to create a film for the festival at that point in his career. Last summer McKay created a three-and-a-half-minute video about the Minnesota Model for the CHS Foundation, which supported its development.

Since a lot of time and effort went into creating this video, McKay decided to check if it met the parameters of a film festival submission. After making a few adjustments, he submitted an updated five-minute video to the film festival.

UMN introduced new courses this year as part of the engagement component of the Minnesota Model: Digital Media Essentials, Podcasting for Science Literacy, Advanced Digital Storytelling, and Virtual Field Trip Production for agriculture, food, and natural resources.

The second integral component of the Minnesota Model is innovation. McKay said that innovation describes the program itself. Students will discover innovation through technology, agriscience storytelling, and experiential learning opportunities such as virtual farm tours.

The third component of the Minnesota Model described in the film is outreach, which focuses on supporting agricultural education teachers in the classroom. McKay is developing workshops to help agricultural education teachers create the next generation of agricultural communicators and leaders.These workshops focus on how to create digital media content in the classroom and will be tailored to teachers’ responses about what they feel comfortable teaching and their students’ interests. An example of this could involve students at the University of Minnesota working in partnership with Minnesota Ag to support a virtual field-trip of a turkey farm.

Presented during the UCEA Film Festival,“The Minnesota Model: Developing Leaders in Agricultural Education and Communication” was one of the only films focusing on both educational leadership and agriculture. McKay led a discussion about how the film relates to a broader educational context after the film’s screening. He also addressed questions the film raised surrounding educational leadership preparation and support.

Link to the film: