2006 Communicator of Achievement Becky Koch

Becky Koch, Fargo, was recognized as NDPC’s 2006 Communicator of Achievement at the annual conference held May 5-6 in Bismarck.

The Communicator of Achievement award honors its recipients for accomplishments in the communications field, service to the community and contributions to NDPC and NFPW. Koch, along with Communicators of Achievement from others states will be honored at the national meeting Sept.7-9 in Denver. There the NFPW Communicator of Achievement will be named.

A member of NDPC since 1991, Koch has been NDPC president, vice president for membership, vice president for contest, secretary and southeast director. She chaired the planning of the 2002 NFPW conference, hosted by NDPC in Bismarck, N.D.

Since February 2004, Koch has been director of the North Dakota State University Agriculture Communication Department where she oversees a staff of 20. She joined the NDSU ag communication staff in 1991, first focusing on marketing and human development editing.

In her position in ag communications, she has led marketing efforts by teaching the college’s faculty and staff  how to work with the news media and developed publicity and educational materials such as newsletters, displays and brochures. She has developed educational packages that include leaders’ guides and PowerPoint presentations with scripts. She writes and edits publications, news releases, marketing materials and administrative documents.

She’s also responsible for the NDSU Extension Service’s staff development, which includes bringing new staff to the campus for orientation. She also developed a Web-based orientation so new staff can go through it in their offices throughout the state. She also plans semi-annual professional development conferences for the NDSU Extension Service and the Research Extension Center staff.

Koch has gotten involved in a big way with distance learning. She created materials so Extension Service workers can evaluate their knowledge and competency on different topics, such as youth development, livestock, nutrition, communications and technology. Extension leaders looking at evaluation results can tailor their staff training accordingly.

Koch will soon begin a two-year term as chair of the national Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN). The group shares and develops educational materials about natural and manmade disasters.

Koch’s work with EDEN is about to go worldwide. She wrote the proposal that got EDEN funding so it could become one of the initial groups featured in “eXtension” — a national Web portal that will put the best-of-the-best research-based information from all Extension Services across the nation onto the Web for the public.

Koch majored in agricultural journalism at Kansas State University in Manhattan where she was a student writer in the University Relations office. After her junior year, she spent a year as a communications intern at the National FFA Center.

After graduating with her KSU bachelor’s degree, Koch spent six months working on farms in the Netherlands. In between feeding, castrating and cleaning hogs and making cheese, she shot hundreds of slides and sent stories home to the national FFA magazine and other newspapers and magazines. The Kochs stay in touch with the Dutch family for whom she helped make cheese and have visited Europe several times to maintain ties.

Koch also worked six months at the national office of Alpha Zeta, an agriculture honor society, before entering grad school at KSU in agriculture education.

Koch next became communication director for the Kansas Wheat Commission, a three-year stint she loved because it combined production agriculture with consumer education. From there she became executive director of the Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom program, which involved developing educational materials, organizing teacher courses and raising money.

Koch’s peers have recognized her outstanding work. The NDSU Extension Service has bestowed several awards for meritorious efforts. She’s accumulated dozens of state and national NFPW communication contest awards and received the Association for Communication Excellence’s Pioneer award in 1998. ACE is an international professional organization with members primarily from land-grant universities such as NDSU.

Koch and her husband Kim have a 7-year-old son, Kenyon.

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