Faculty Spotlight: Laura Young

Laura Young
Meet Laura Young, associate professor of practice in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication (ALEC) in CASNR.
May 22, 2024

About Laura:

I grew up in Falls City, Nebraska and attended Nebraska Wesleyan University for my undergraduate degrees in communication and music. While at Wesleyan, I studied abroad at Aalborg University in Aalborg, Denmark and working with people from around the world in strategic marketing quickly solidified my plan to pursue a career in communication. To add to my experience, I went to graduate school at DePaul University in Chicago right after graduation and completed a master’s degree in organizational and multicultural communication. I was also lucky to work at Edelman, an award-winning global public relations consultancy firm, and train under some of the best in the industry.

After that, I worked in customer service for a short time back in Lincoln while I applied for doctorate programs. My doctorate degree in communication, with a focus in risk and crisis communication, is from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky where I got to work with the Lexington Fire Department for my dissertation and teach several courses at all levels. Throughout these years, I fell in love with teaching and pursued faculty roles with that focus. I have worked at Butler University in strategic communication and Baker University in mass media and public relations and was thrilled to begin my current position at UNL in June 2019. I am married and we have 3 little boys – a 3-year-old and 1-year-old twins!

What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

I was just recently promoted to associate professor of practice in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication (ALEC) in CASNR. I specifically work with the students in the Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication (AESC) program and teach introductory strategic communication, orientation for first year majors, advanced strategic writing, crisis communication, the AESC Senior Capstone course that produces an annual communication campaign for a client, and I lead the AESC internship program. I am also the Director of Strategic Discussions for Nebraska (check us out at sdn.unl.edu) – a student-developed storytelling platform highlighting research and activities happening within the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) as well as serve as the Program Coordinator for AESC and the superintendent for the Ag Communications Career Development Event during the Nebraska State FFA Convention.

What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

My husband and I are both originally from Nebraska but left after college and lived in Chicago, Lexington, Kentucky, Indianapolis, and Kansas City.  After nearly a decade away, we were eager to return to Nebraska to be closer to both of our families. It was always a dream to work at UNL, so when I came across the job listing for my current position, I immediately applied. Once I stepped on East Campus for my interview and met everyone in ALEC, I knew this was the place where I wanted to build my career because it felt like home, and I could be part of giving back to the state of Nebraska through so many university initiatives.

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy learning from my students – whether it is learning the most recent lingo, or the latest TikTok challenge, or learning about their five-generation cattle ranch, or their recycling initiative they started in high school – so many times during class I find myself learning as much as anyone and I truly love that! Higher education is so much more than checking off courses – it is about growing into the person they want to be, developing skills and confidence to be successful, furthering critical thinking, and learning how to navigate the world. In my role, I get to work one-on-one with students every day, and I love having the time to learn from them and know them on a personal level. It truly gives me so much hope for the future because I work with some of the most driven and passionate people I have ever known!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Being a mom to my 3 guys will always be my greatest achievement! I am also pretty proud to say that I carried my twins, who totaled over 15 pounds when they were born, to 37 weeks!

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I used to be a competitive dancer but when I was 15, I fractured the fifth lumbar in my lower back doing a switch leap. I couldn’t continue dancing competitively, so I opened my own dance studio – Forever Young Dance Studio – in my parent’s home, and taught tap, ballet, and jazz for a few years before I left for college. It was one of the best experiences and a way to continue doing what I loved, just in a different way. I also started doing choreography for my high school’s show choir and continue doing it to this day – 22 years strong!

What is your life like outside of work?

We have three little boys – a 3-year-old and 1-year-old twins, so life outside of work is filled with park dates, playing with toys, spending time outside, building blanket forts, dance parties, singing with Ms. Rachel, coloring, playing with our pup Roxy, watching Disney movies – anything to let three active toddlers get the wiggles out! We look forward to returning to our hobby of traveling around the world, and eventually showing the boys all the amazing places that we love!