By Caitlin Powers
Frank Sheppard, Ph.D., ‘47 has gifted the department with an endowment to support AGCJ 409, television production for agricultural journalists, a course that teaches students to utilize and broadcast on the Brazos Valley public broadcasting station, KAMU-TV. Sheppard paid a special visit to the spring 2014 class March 31.
“I love the fact that we produce a real television show,” Jennifer Enocksen, junior agricultural communications and journalism major said. “It makes the broadcasting industry less intimidating as a career option because you’ve already been there and done that.”
The course utilizes the high-definition facilities of KAMU-TV and provides students with a hands on learning experience to learn about the basic stages of video production and culminates in a professional program series broadcast on KAMU-TV.
Enocksen said she enjoys getting texts from friends who have seen her on TV and to be able to tell her mom what time her show airs. The course provides students with more than just a neat experience. Students are learning skills to give them a professional experience.
“This course has taught me how to work a camera and audio equipment, produce and direct, host, choose guests, write a script, and many other valuable skills,” Enocksen said.
Sheppard’s endowment will be going to support high-impact learning experiences for undergraduate students enrolled in the course. Torii Kapavik, assistant director of development for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said the gift will secure having one of the best in the industry as the instructor, Rod Zent.
“Great faculty means great teaching which leads to great students,” Kapavik said.
The course already provides students with a high-impact learning experience in the classroom, and now experiences outside the classroom could be possible as well. Kapavik said the endowment will also give Zent greater flexibility in the experiences he provides students such as the ability to take field trips if he wanted.
Sheppard’s history with the department goes as far back as 1947 and 1951 when he earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in agricultural education. He would then go to Cornell where he received his Doctorate in agricultural education.
Since then Sheppard has traveled the world promoting and educating others on rural community development. He is a donor of multiple programs in both the department and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Sheppard wanted to support public broadcasting and his history with the department led his endowment to support the course. As a way of supporting public broadcasting, he will be supporting the students who are learning to perpetuate that industry, Kapavik said.
“I’ve always been interested in working in broadcasting and thought that this course would give me a valuable experience,” Enocksen said. “Students come away from the course with a full show that they’ve produced.”
Students in the ALEC department are being prepared for their futures through the courses offered thanks to generous donors such as Sheppard.
“It is an endowed gift that will remain in perpetuity,” Kapavik said. “In 100 years, Dr. Sheppard will still be supporting this course even though he may not be here himself to support it.”