Agriculture Communication


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Save Early, Save Often!

As they say, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Taking time out of our busy day to perform preventative tasks can certainly be an inconvenience, however, it can be even more inconvenient to lose files that took valuable time and effort to create.

Here are some simple preventative steps you can take to help safeguard your files:

  1. Save your work periodically.  This is especially important after you have added a large amount of data or made major changes that would be difficult to reproduce. 

  2. Make it a daily habit to save your work and close out of any documents and programs you have at the end of the day.  Should something cause your computer to abruptly shutdown or restart overnight (power outage, computer updates, etc...), this will drastically reduce the possibility of your files being damaged. 

  3. Create a backup copy of your data in a safe place.  Keeping a second copy of important files on another computer, an external hard drive, a USB stick or in the cloud will help ensure you have a working copy should something disastrous happen to your computer. 

  4. Update your backups regularly.  Having backups is a good first step, however, it is important to make sure those backups remain relevant and useful to you.  It's good to update your backup copies at regular intervals and also when you make major changes to your files.  The question to ask yourself when defining how often to update your backups is: "what am I willing to lose?".

Investing a few minutes of time now could save you days or weeks in lost work should disaster strike.

, IT Systems Specialist   |       701-231-8685 Option 1


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Write the Right Word: Then and Than

Maybe using “then” when the word should be “than” is a simple typo, but this mistake has been cropping up a lot lately.

The bottom line is: “Then” and “than” cannot be used interchangeably.

“Then” indicates time or a progression of time. For example: “I’m busy until this afternoon. Then I can go to the movie.” “We went to dinner and then we watched a movie.”

“Then” has several other uses, including these meanings:

  • In addition, moreover, besides – “The airfare costs $325, then you have to pay a $25 luggage fee.”
  • In that case, accordingly – “If the traffic is heavy, then I may not get to work on time.”
  • Being so at the time – “The bill was vetoed by then-Gov. John Smith.”

Use “than” when making comparisons between objects, people, etc. For example: “She is taller than I am.” “Your cat is older than mine.”

Also always use “than” with words such as “rather,” “more” and “less.” For instance: “Plant corn rather than wheat this year.” “I have less money than he has.” “The producer planted more than 10 acres of lentils.”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391



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Ag Comm Webinar Features Extension Brand Refresh

Spring is a time of renewal and refreshment and the NDSU Extension Service is undergoing a branding refresh of its own. Kelli Armbruster, Agriculture Communication information specialist, showcased the new NDSU Extension Service branded materials and templates that will be available soon, in the May Ag Comm webinar. 

An announcement will be made when the new branded items and templates are available for download.

, Information Specialist, 701-231-6136

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Add a Profile Picture to Outlook and Skype

You can add your photo to Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business to personalize your profile and the communication you send through these tools. When you use Skype or send an email message, others can see your photo.

Unfortunately, during the migration to NDUS Microsoft accounts, your Outlook mail and Skype photo profile were lost. Here's an easy way to re-upload it so others can see your photo when communicating with you.

Choose a professional photo that you won't mind colleagues seeing. If you need a professional profile done, NDSU Publications Services can take your head shot at no charge.


Upload your photo

  1. Go to:
  2. Log in using your NDSU email username (typically and N.D. University System ID password. If you forgot your password, contact the NDSU ITS Help Desk.
  3. Click on your name in the upper right corner

About me










 Sharon screenshot



  1. Click the camera icon that displays above your name and job title.
  2. Next to Picture, click Change your photo.
  3. On the next screen, click Upload a photo, then upload and click Save.

It may take up to an hour for the change to take effect in Outlook or Skype for Business. If the image looks distorted, you may need to resize the original (square dimensions work best) and upload it again.

, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

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New Video with Tips for Recording

The Ag Comm video unit has produced a new training video, Video Shooting Tips: Bump Up the Quality. The training covers basic techniques and things to think about before and during a shoot. These tips are great for any type of video recording, whether you’re using an expensive camera or your phone. In fact, some specific smartphone tips are included in the video.

Scott Swanson, Electronic Media Specialist, 701-231-7086

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Equipment Available for Checkout


Need a wireless mic for a Facebook Live session? How about a large touch-screen monitor for an open house? Want to keep speakers on schedule with an inconspicuous timer?

Ag Communication has all these and more equipment available for checkout. Watch this webinar to learn more.

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Positives for Posters

With Andrew Friskop and Ryan Limb, I judged the undergraduate and graduate student posters that were part of NDSU's Ag Week. I was really impressed with the student posters in this week-long event sponsored by students in the NDSU Agriculture Collective.

As reminders to all of us, here are a few tips for better posters.

  • Determine the most important or interesting finding, and focus on that. Don't try to cover too much so that your poster has so many words it looks like a mini manuscript.
  • Write concisely. Use words only if they add to the explanation. Even then, only hit the high points.
  • Use bullets, subheads, short sentences and short paragraphs to make content easier to read.
  • Choose an easy-to-read font. Use a bigger type size and bold for subheads, not underlining. Avoid all caps.
  • Use the correct NDSU or N.D. Agricultural Experiment Station or NDSU Extension Service logo, not an NDSU seal or bison.
  • Focus on a few large photos and graphics that tell your story rather than lots of small ones.
  • Avoid busy backgrounds that make your words hard to read.
  • Use left justification mostly. Full justification often leaves gaps between words.
  • Avoid acronyms and abbreviations that your target audience might not understand.
  • Identify the source for any image that is not yours.
  • Avoid dark backgrounds with reversed-out type and copy blocks in boxes.
  • Ask others to provide you with constructive criticism several weeks before you have to present your poster.

Your goal probably is to get meeting-goers' attention so you can tell them about your research, not for them to get all the details from your poster, so make it inviting with these tips.

, Ag Communication Director, 701-231-7875

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Adobe Spark Sparks Some Ideas for Use in Extension

Adobe Spark ScreenshotIn early April, the Educational Technology Learning Network (#EdTechLN) had a Tweet-up about the use of Adobe Spark, an easy-to-use program to make videos, graphics and webpages. It’s free to use and is available for iPad or on the web.

Extension professionals chimed in on how they could use Spark’s in their work:

  • Narrated slides

  • Quick videos (like a PSA, “Tasty” - like cooking video on Facebook, etc.

  • Testimonials

  • Impact Statements

  • Social Media

  • Newsletters

  • Program Promotion

Spark offers templates to help you get going, and free music and images to add to your project. When your project is complete you will get a shareable link or able to post on social media.

Some Extension professionals commented that Spark has more features than often-used graphic tools like PowerPoint, Publisher and Canva.

The #EdTechLN also had a hackathon April 20th where Extension professionals experimented with Adobe Spark. Here are some of the projects created in Spark:

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

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Need Website Help? Check the Ag CMS How-To Guide

The Ag CMS How-To Guide features several articles that can help you find your way around the Ag Content Management System (Ag CMS).

The guide has step-by-step instructions for 22 common Ag CMS tasks, like "How do I insert an image on my page?" There are also articles on the different item types and portlets available in the Ag CMS. Under "Big Picture" in the guide, you'll find articles that have to do with more than one page or more than one area, like "Where to put files?" and "Left-Hand Navigation."

You can also find video instructions for some Ag CMS tasks on the Ag CMS How-To's playlist on the NDSU Agriculture Communication YouTube channel.

If you can't find the answer to your question in the Ag CMS How-To Guide or you just need a little extra assistance, please contact us. We're here to help!

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403
Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Write the Right Word: Titled vs. Entitled

If you’ve read an article about an upcoming workshop, you may have seen a sentence such as this: “The keynote speaker is giving a presentation entitled “Sustainable Agriculture.”

Unfortunately, whoever edited the article wasn’t paying attention. “Entitled” is the wrong word choice. “Entitled” means having a right or claim to something. For example, “He is entitled to three more days of vacation.”

It also can mean to confer a title on a person. “Queen Elizabeth entitled the man as a knight.”

Instead, use “titled” before the name of a book, lecture, speech, poem or event. For example: “The book left on the table was titled ‘Gone With the Wind.’”

Better yet, avoid the extra words and simply say, “The book left on the table was “Gone With the Wind.’”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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