Owen Roberts is an instructor and faculty member at the University of Illinois, in the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications program. There, he is one of three faculty involved in building out the long-standing agricultural communications component of the program, developed by agricultural communications pioneer Dr. Jim Evans.
For most of his career, Owen was the research communications director at the University of Guelph. There, he taught agricultural communications, served as editor of the University’s Research magazine and created the popular student-research writing, experiential learning program Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge (SPARK). Many of his former students are active in journalism, communications and marketing in Ontario and elsewhere. He was also an adjunct professor in the Department of Animal Biosciences, specializing in communications.
Owen brings practical and real-life experience to the classroom. He is active as a journalist and as a columnist with daily, weekly and monthly print and online media. On twitter, he operates as @theurbancowboy, and typically discusses urban perspectives on agri-food issues.
Owen is past-president of the 5,000-member International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, which represents journalists in 50 countries, and is a senator in the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation.
His programs and research papers have been recognized nationally and internationally through awards from the Journal of Applied Communications, the Association for Communications Excellence and others.
Owen holds a Bachelor of Arts (communications) from the University of Windsor, a Master of Science (rural extension studies) from the University of Guelph, and a Doctor of Education (agricultural education and communications) from Texas Tech University and Texas A&M University.
He is an honorary life member of the Ontario Institute of Agrologists and a lifetime achievement award recipient from the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation.
Owen is a native of Mitchell’s Bay, Ontario (pop. 350) and resides in Guelph with his wife Angi. They have five children, five grandchildren, two dogs and a cat.
For fun, he plays guitar and bass in rock and roll bands, most notably The GMOs, a popular dance band in the Guelph area.