Live to be the Legacy

Elia Rybolt | Agricultural Sciences Major | Class of 2024

Minor in Horticulture | Focuses in Agricultural Education and Agricultural Communications

CAS & CoF Leadership Academy | Brownsville, Oregon

Sigma Alpha | LinkedIn | Personal Portfolio Website

Agricultural Advocate

I am Elia Rybolt and I grew up throughout the Willamette Valley in Oregon most of my life. I decided to pursue studies in Agricultural Sciences, minoring in Horticulture, and additional coursework focused in Agricultural Education and Agricultural Communications from the passion of gardening. I am a first generation college student on my birth mom’s family side. I was born in Guatemala and one of reasons my birth mother chose my adopted family was because she wanted me to be successful and have more opportunities in the United States. This is one of the motivations I have deeply ingrained in my heart ever since I was little and has spread to all that I do including my involvement at Oregon State University.

My portfolio website showcases more about my personal and research projects, additional ones besides the one mentioned.

Garden Passion Project

One of my most passionate hobbies that has cultivated all my other passions in life is my personal home hydrangea garden I have named ‘Holloway Hydrangeas’. The garden was established by myself in 2018 and it was how I got directly into agriculture. Growing up, I was surrounded by Willamette Valley agriculture but this garden was my first big step in pursuing what I do today. Hydrangeas included are bigleaf, climbing, oakleaf, and panicle hydrangeas across the garden space. Today, the garden that once was my own hands-on learning experience has flourished into an ongoing project evolved into teaching others.Throughout the years, I have documented growth within the garden and continue to produce educational content about hydrangeas, soils, and related agriculture topics with my garden to increase awareness and educate all audiences the joys of gardening. My mission with Holloway Hydrangeas and communicating agriculture is to educate, to inspire, and to tell stories of Agriculture through diverse perspectives.

Aggie Antics

One of the most significant opportunities I have today is becoming one of the student office assistants for my department, Agricultural Education and Agricultural Sciences. The faculty and staff within the Department are one of the close support systems in my life. I am so incredibly grateful to build relationships with them and am always ready to assist them in any tasks beyond being one of their students for a class. By working in the Department, I have been able to grow professionally in understanding how to receive phone calls, check in students and guests, write emails, and most importantly be a helping hand and support for the people and community at large.

Also, I hold being a member of Sigma Alpha close to my heart. I was able to represent our OSU Chapter at the National Sigma Alpha Convention and become one of the current leading members, as Secretary and Scholarship Chair this academic year. Sigma Alpha is a professional agricultural sorority that promotes scholarship, leadership, service and fellowship among its members. I resonate deeply with our four pillars and my sisters within the chapter are all wonderful women that I can see great potential in positively impacting the agricultural industry in whatever they chose to do. If it weren’t for the Chapter and becoming a member, I would not have made it far as I did today.

Long-Lasting Impacts

A defining moment in my life that made quite the impact happened at the end of January around the time I launched my online portfolio, ‘Communicating Agriculture: Elia Rybolt’, a dedicated space to share ongoing agricultural communications projects, showcase academic work done at Oregon State University, and be willing to share my story to all. I hope by sharing my story, I can at least inspire one person from my lived experiences that it is possible to achieve what you set your mind to. As if stars were aligning, within a single moment, all the things I am a part of and put continual efforts toward made me realize and recognize I truly was making a long-lasting impact with all the communities who have encouraged and inspired me. Being a part of the CAS and CoF Leadership Academy made me able to set my personal mission to make a long-lasting impact and have built a personal development plan to further confirm what my why and purpose in life is.

Office Banter to Agri-Adventure

During one of my office work shifts in Strand during Fall 2023, one of my professors, Dr. Whitney Stone approached me with the idea to start Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Communications research and I gladly accepted the opportunity. Starting Winter 2024 and going into Spring 2024 terms, I am able to gain experiential learning and apply the knowledge from classes to the real-world setting. The most exciting part is that I am currently set to move forward with expanding español language accessibility, developing educational resources, and producing content field-work in collaboration with Sunbow Produce, a local USDA certified organic produce year-round farm. The valuable part of this experience is getting to use industry-standard online programs to help with the production of these agricultural communications materials for Sunbow Produce. The most fun part of this research is I get to combine my love for photography, communicating agriculture, and purpose to educate, all in one with this project.

Your professional life can start now as a student or wherever you are in life. There is value in what you are passionate for, it is up to you to share your story whether it is a personal project, academic studies, activities and clubs, and more. I wished earlier on, I listened to the encouragement I received from my mentors and friends in my life to start sharing my professional journey through an online portfolio or social media. It was when I decided to get out of my comfort zone and accepted to be a little uncomfortable with these new pursuits, now life has become much more fulfilling as I could relate and better connect with others.