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US media student visits Irish BGAJ member in her quest to learn more about Ireland’s agriculture

By 15th March 2024No Comments

Northern Ireland farming journalist Chris McCullough has hosted American media student Michelle Stangler as part of a project to learn more about agriculture in Europe.

Michelle, from Watertown, Wisconsin, is an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls studying agricultural marketing communications and journalism.

Chris and Michelle visited Ulster Wool near Antrim.

She connected with guild member Chris, who has reported on agriculture around the world for more than two decades, through the
International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ).

The duo met in Northern Ireland for a few days touring farms and the wider agricultural industry, interviewing farmers, creating stories, video and podcast content as they travelled.

Michelle then travelled to southern Ireland to learn about the work of Teagasc and the wider meat industry.

Chris McCullough and Michelle Stangler toured round farms in Northern Ireland.

Chris said the encounter was a good opportunity to pass on some knowledge and experience gained during his career, as well as pick up some tips from Michelle.

“It was also a unique opportunity for me to learn first-hand from a dedicated young agri-journalist who has grown up with, studied and mastered new forms of media.

“Although I use several forms of media in my reporting, working with Michelle served well to improve my journalist skills. It also gave me an insight into what the younger generation of readers favour in terms of how to access content.”

Michelle, who runs her very own podcast series ‘Positivity in Ag’ had already spent a month in Scotland prior to arriving with Chris.

Chris added: “During the time Michelle had in Northern Ireland we visited Michael Patton at Fisherwick Farm in Doagh to learn about his new venture selling milk from the dairy herd via a vending machine.

“We also visited Ulster Wool where joint depot manager Jane Harkness-Bones gave us a tour and a very informative talk on what they do, collecting and marketing almost two million kilos of wool from sheep farms in Northern Ireland.

“It was a pleasure to host Michelle in Northern Ireland and show her exactly what we do here in terms of agricultural media and farming. We even had some free time to go to the beach!”

Michelle’s visit to Northern Ireland was the first step on her European adventure visiting a number of countries to learn and record all about their own styles of farming.

Her travels form part of her final college project, which is seeing her travel across Europe interviewing people in agriculture for her podcast, Postitivity in Ag.

“From traveling to Northern Ireland, then the Republic of Ireland and on to Italy, I’m grateful to the people like Chris who have been as enthusiastic about the podcast and have helped me along the way,” she said.

“I’ve learned how to become now only a better agricultural journalist, but how agriculture is a community globally. From farmer to farmer and person involved in the industry to the next, there’s differences that propels the industry further.

Michelle plans to connect with other IFAJ members throughout the rest of her trip, including some in Belgium, The Netherlands and Sweden, to learn more about agriculture in their respective countries.

Speaking about the IFAJ connection, IFAJ vice president Steve Werblow said:  “It’s exciting to see the global network of ag journalists welcoming new people into the industry.”