Young Alum of the Month – August 2014
Claire Masker (’05 animal science, agricultural and life sciences education, ’08 MS agricultural and life sciences education)
Sharing the story of modern agriculture is something College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alum, Claire Masker, (‘05 animal science, agricultural and life sciences education – communications option, ‘08 MS agricultural and life sciences education) strives to do everyday as the public relations manager of the National Pork Board.
A farm girl from Neola, Iowa, Masker prepared herself for a career in agricultural communications by taking advantage of the extra-curricular opportunities available at Iowa State University.
While she was a student, Masker was actively involved in several organizations including Alpha Chi Omega, Dance Marathon, Senior Class Council and Student Alumni Leadership Council (SALC) Homecoming Central Committee. She was also a member of the student advisory team with the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) organization. “Having leadership roles across campus, outside of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences helped me to have ag-related conversations early on,” Masker says.
Masker learned the value of communicating to a non-agriculture audience, and gained professional development through her involvement with Agriculture Future of America. “AFA is wonderful organization for students to learn their soft skills and become better leaders in the agriculture industry,” she says.
Masker’s involvement at Iowa State and her passion for agriculture landed her on the fast track to finding career success. Today, Masker uses her communications expertise as the public relations manager with the National Pork Board. As the public relations manager, Masker wears many hats. The young professional is responsible for building the recognition of the National Pork Board through non-ag consumer media, public relations efforts for the Pork Checkoff and assisting with issue management and proactive media outreach.
She coordinates efforts with the U.S. Farmers and Rancher’s Alliance, serves as the liaison to the Domestic Marketing and International Marketing departments and writes for web and print publications. “The most rewarding part about my job is encouraging farmers to tell their story and helping them engage with consumers,” Masker says. “My goal is to empower those with roles in the agriculture industry and it is a great feeling when I see farmers and other leaders step outside of their comfort zone to start the conversation without being prompted.”
As a student, Masker understood the importance of volunteering her time and branching out from her daily classwork. As a young professional, Masker continues to do this in addition to her career.
In 2012, Masker and fellow CALS alumni Janelle Buxton (‘05 agriculture and life sciences education – communications option) and Amanda DeJong (‘02 agricultural business) founded the Young Professionals in Agriculture organization. Members of the organization have the opportunity to network, stay in touch with other facets of the agriculture industry and grow in a professional setting.
Masker also is a member of the Young Alumni Council at Iowa State University. As part of the council, Masker helps develop young alumni events, assists with the young alumni newsletter and contributes ideas on how to connect and engage young alumni with Iowa State. “I think it is important support your university and college,” she says. “Whether it be volunteering, giving monetary donations or wearing your school colors with pride, do what you can to give back.”
Reflecting on her college experience, Masker is grateful for the connections she made as student.
“I am proud to be an alumnus of Iowa State and I feel lucky to continue building relationships with other Cyclones in the agriculture industry and beyond the state of Iowa,” she says. “We all share a special bond.”