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Agriculture Communication

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Write the Right Word: Toward or Towards?

Most grammarians agree that words indicating direction such as toward, forward, backward, northward and outward can be spelled with or without the “s” at the end.

However, that generalization comes with a couple of cautions: One, towards, etc., is the preferred spelling in British and Australian English, while spelling these words without the “s” is preferred in American English.

The second note of caution is that Associated Press Stylebook says the correct spelling is without the “s.” Ag Comm follows the AP style guide. That means we look forward to working toward removing the “s” from words such as northward and outward so our writing does not appear to take a step backward.

, Information Specialist, (701) 231-5391

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Insert a Qualtrics Form in Your Website

There are several ways to distribute your Qualtrics form:

  • email
  • posting the form directing to social media
  • adding a link to the survey on your website
  • embedding (inserting) your form directing into your website vs. just having a link


1. Copy and paste your survey link into this html code:
<iframe src="Paste Survey Link Here" width="800px" height="450px"></iframe>

2. In Ag CMS, put your cursor where you want the survey to be embedded at and then click the “html” icon to insert the code into your Web page.


3. Paste in the code and then click “Update” and then “Save”.

4. If the form size needs to be adjusted, go back into the html and adjust for 800 pixels (px) wide by 450 px high (from code in Step 1).

Here’s an example of an embedded Qualtrics form on an Ag CMS site

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Spotting Fake or Phishing Email

If you ever receive an email message from someone, even an address you recognize, and something just doesn't seem right, you might be on to something. Fake email is getting more difficult to spot as the programs that send them improve.In the past, you could count on the obvious red flags: unknown or unrecognized sender, poor spelling/grammar, no subject, etc. Unfortunately, fake email has gotten to the point where it can appear to be from someone you know.

So how do we spot fake email?

Watch for generic emails asking you to visit a website that requires your login and password or those that contain an attachment that you were not expecting. In many cases, you also can see if the sender addresses you by name in the email message. If it's a generic message without your name, that could be a big indicator it was not sent by the person you know. If it's from someone you know well, many times you can tell if the message was authored by that person just by the way it is written.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to determine if an email is fake simply by looking at it. However, if you do get an email with a file you weren't expecting or a link you aren't sure about, trust your instincts. If something doesn't seem right, err on the side of caution and contact the sender to confirm the message is legitimate before clicking a link or opening a file.

Jerry Ranum, Desktop Support Specialist; ITS Help Desk, (701) 231-8685

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Marketing Minute: Smartphone Seniors

Smartphone Use by AgeEvery morning my 60-year-old father gets up at 5 a.m. Throughout my childhood, I would wake to the sounds of the morning ag show on television. Tidbits about the fat cattle market and the grain trade would filter under my bedroom door, but now the house is practically silent. A faint glow illuminates my parents' living room and a few tap, tap, taps can be heard.

My father has entered the world of smartphones. His big, callused fingers somehow navigate apps like Facebook, CropLife, The Weather Channel and the American Angus Association mobile site. He checks wheat prices, studies the 10-day forecast and scrolls through his Facebook newsfeed before the sun comes up. When I visit home these days, I have to laugh when I see how attached he is to his phone.

Most of us associate the Internet, social media and smartphone use with a younger generation. And while studies show us that the majority of smartphone users are those in the 18- to 34-year-old category, seniors quickly are catching up.

According to ComScore, a leading mobile analytics company, as of March 2015, 49 percent of those 65 and older are using smartphones, an increase of 12 percent from March 2014. For individuals in the 55- to 64-year-old category, the numbers are even more impressive with 64 percent of that age group using smartphones.

Now let’s talk farming. The average age of U.S. farmers is 58 years old. While the average age of farmers is steadily climbing, so is the percentage of smartphone users in that same age category.

Our customers are searching for NDSU’s research and educational resources, information and events online and on their mobile devices. They are Googling phrases like, “how to test for soybean cyst nematodes” or “best ration for weaned calves.”

We need to make sure our information is accessible to those searching for it. Publishing research on our Web pages, sharing information on our social media sites and sending out an email newsletter (like the one you’re reading now) are all ways to connect and engage with our customers digitally.

Not only are the younger generations on their phones looking for information, but so are older generations. Let’s make sure we are providing the research and education they are seeking.

, Information Specialist, (701) 231-6136

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Managing Multiple Google Accounts

Dena Kemmet, NDSU Extension - Mercer County, emailed me to ask for help "understanding how to use Google now with the personal/professional accounts." Although I can't offer an official best practice for managing your Google accounts, I can share a couple of strategies I use.

Many of us have personal Google accounts. If you have an Android smartphone, you have a Google account. All NDSU employees and students have an NDSU Google account (here's more info on accessing your NDSU Google account). Many NDSU Extension staff also have another Google account through eXtension.

So, how do I manage my personal, NDSU and eXtension Google accounts? I use Google Chrome.

The Chrome web browser allows me to create separate profiles within the browser (Here's how). This feature was designed to help you share your Chrome browser with other people, but it works well for managing multiple accounts. Each profile can be associated with a different Google account, so I set one up for my personal Google account, my NDSU Google account and my eXtension Google account.

Once I had created the profiles, I could switch between them by clicking a small tab at the top-right of my browser window.

Switch Profiles in Google Chrome

Select Profile in Google Chrome

When I select a new profile, it opens in a new browser window. With all 3 profiles open in separate windows, I can jump between them to access the Google Drive associated with each account. Any browser tabs that you have pinned in a Chrome profile will be saved with that profile, so they will still be pinned the next time it is opened.

Using profiles in Chrome has saved me a lot of time spent logging in and out of Google accounts. If you have questions or want to share your strategies for managing multiple accounts, please email me.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Write the Right Word: Not First Annual

You’ve probably seen or even said this: “This is the first annual meeting.”

Some word usage experts argue that this isn’t correct because you can’t consider an event to be an annual one until it has been held for at least two successive years. Others assert that calling an event the “first annual” simply indicates the organizers’ intention of holding it every year.

We in Ag Comm agree with the first group. Despite the best intentions, an event may not be held another year, so you can’t assume it will become an annual event.

The news media also agrees. So if you have a personal event, you can call it anything you like. But if you want your local paper or radio station to help promote your professional event, you need to call it something else, such the “inaugural” event. Then add that you plan to hold it again the following year.

, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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Finding and Organizing Files in Google Drive

Organizing Files in Google Drive Tip

You can assign a color to a folder to help it stand out among all your files. Just right click on the file > Change color and then choose a color.

Change folder color.png

Finding Files in Google Drive: Tip 1

By default, your Google Drive will show you files in your Drive. If you want to find a file that someone shared with you, choose “Shared with me”.


Finding Files in Google Drive: Tip 2

Probably the easiest way to locate a file is to use the Search bar at the top of your screen. You can search by title or of File type (doc, spreadsheet,etc.)


Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Choose an Image When Posting Links to Facebook

Facebook recently changed the options you have for selecting an image to accompany a link you are sharing when posting to a Facebook Page. Extension associate Stacy Wang clued me in to the change when we were discussing strategies for getting the best possible photo to appear with a link when one of our webpages is shared in a Facebook post.

As of today (10/2/2015), this option is not available on individual Facebook profiles, but only when posting as a Facebook Page.

When you type or paste the address of a webpage you want to share into a post, Facebook will display all the images on that webpage that are large enough to be included as part of the post. Below that, you'll see smaller versions of the first 3 images with blue boxes around them to indicate they are selected. If you publish the post, all 3 of those images will be displayed as part of your post with each of them linking to the webpage you shared. You can deselect any or all of the 3 images or even add an image from your computer to the post before publishing.

Choosing Images When Posting a Link on Facebook

This is a great addition to Facebook Pages, but what about when individuals share a link to your webpage? Are the best images appearing along with the link to your webpage?

NDSU Ag Communication software developer Roger Egeberg has some tips for including images in your webpages that will work well in Facebook posts.

Make sure you have at least one high-quality image that is at least 200 pixels in height AND width. That's the minimum size of image that Facebook will detect.If you don't include at least one image of that size, your link will appear without an image at all.

If you include an image at least 600 X 315 pixels, Facebook will display that image above your link rather than displaying a smaller image as a thumbnail to the left of the link. For images displayed above links, Facebook favors images that are about twice as wide as they are high (a 1.91:1 aspect ratio to be exact). Using images with landscape orientation minimizes the amount of cropping Facebook does when displaying these images.

In general, images have a positive effect on social media engagement. Including a Facebook-friendly image on your web page could make people more likely to share it on social media, and increase the number of clicks that post gets once it is shared.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Cross Promote Your Website and Social Media

If you’re on social media, it’s a good idea to let people know so they can connect with you. Be sure to add links to your social media sites on your website and on print materials. Another good way to promote your social media sites is to link to them in your email signature.

Likewise, be sure to add your website to your social media profiles. This allows your followers to find out more about you.

Some people may only visit your website and aren’t on social media. Some people may only know you through social media but never visit your website. Still, it’s good to let all your audiences know how to reach you or learn more.

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403


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Write the Right Word: What’s the Question, Anyway?

Even though part of a sentence may be a question, it should not end with a question mark.

For example: I wonder what’s in the water that’s turning it blue. That’s a declarative sentence that basically says I would like to know the cause of the coloring in the water. I’m not asking a question.

You would use a question mark if the entire sentence is a question: What’s in the water that’s turning it blue? You also would use a question mark after the question part of the sentence if it is a quote. For example: I heard him ask, “What’s in the water that’s turning it blue?”

Note that the question mark goes inside the quotation mark because it refers to the question. Question marks go outside of quotes when the entire sentence is the question. For example: Who wrote “Gone With the Wind”?

information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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