The North Dakota State University’s Department of Agriculture Communication, like many things, has seen a change of landscape over the years. From the booming production of new and innovative technology, to the implementation of social media that has made its way into everyday life, there has been immense change. And for more than two decades, Becky Koch has been at the helm of all those changes.
An illustrious career
Koch has been a staple in the NDSU ag communication department for many years, starting her journey with the Bison in the year of 1991 as a marketing specialist and the human development editor. However, in 2004, Koch's role within the ag communication department changed.
“In 2004 I became director of the department. I really enjoyed my original work within communication here at NDSU, but I had some leadership training, and looked forward to broadening the work I was doing to help lead others and help us work together to reach our goals,” Koch said.
Koch has played a vital part within the ag communication department. Through her role she helps connect faculty, staff and extension agents with sources to help them get their message out to the public.
"Becky has been a huge asset to our Ag Communications unit over the last 29 years. She has played an integral role in many different initiatives including the development of our bimonthly external newsletter, For the Land and Its People, and our internal staff newsletter. She has also played a key role with our annual staff conferences, branding efforts, and many other service functions. Becky has also played a key role in the Extension Disaster Education Network, which is a national organization that helps Extension programs throughout the U.S. respond to natural disasters," said Greg Lardy, associate vice president for agricultural affairs.
Throughout her time at NDSU, Koch has been able to use her passion for teaching and helping others to help better the department as well.
“The two things I have enjoyed the most during my years in ag communication have been, No. 1, teaching. I’m a teacher at heart. I really like how we do extension education rather than classroom teaching. The other thing that has been really fulfilling for me is not even directly communication related, but my disaster education work. Almost by a fluke I got involved in disaster education many years ago, and it has just been so rewarding to work with the faculty and others to get messages out there to people who are in such desperate need of information,” Koch said.
Over the past two decades, Koch has seen many changes take place within the department of ag communication, many of which center on technology and social media. Under Koch’s direction, the department has also tried to keep up with the ever-evolving technology and social media platforms that are now an everyday part of people’s lives.
“We try to keep ahead of the technology, if it's possible, to use a variety of mass and social media to get our messages out to the public, because that's really what ag communications role is. We work with the faculty and staff to help them educate the public,” Koch said.
A curveball Koch did not anticipate coming was the changes the COVID-19 pandemic would bring upon the department.
“Ag communication had to make a lot of changes in response to COVID, just like everyone else. We have all become Zoom experts, and decided to go virtual in March,” Koch said.
The next chapter
On Nov. 20, Koch will officially step down from her role as NDSU’s ag communication director, after spending more than 29 years within the department. Though the transition is bittersweet, Koch is excited to move on to her next chapter.
“My husband and I are moving to Arizona. We joke about going from one extreme to the other. But, it's kind of similar, during our cold winters you just kind of hunker under inside. So, during the hot Arizona summers, we’ll kind of hunker inside in the air conditioning instead. We’re looking forward to a change of pace,” Koch said.