On Friday, December 4th, the ATI/Wooster campus hosted ACADAOS members for our annual Regional campus visit. Personally, I had never been to this campus before, and I was very excited to make the trip. Thanks to Stephanie Elliot’s great work, we rode on a fancy charter bus with plenty of room for all of us.
The Wooster campus is home to the Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI), the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, (OARDC), and the OSU Extension program. The institutions all share space on the campus, but the individuals that we spent time with were from the ATI campus. Our hosts for the day were Ruth Montz, Coordinator of Student Services; Kathy Yoder, Head Librarian; and Dee Dee Snyder, Program Manager, Program Excel.
Our day started with an overview of the campus and the students that they serve. The most intriguing thing for me was how different the student body was for the ATI campus. They have a significant portion of their students who are working solely on their associate degrees, and will not make the transition to Columbus. They also have a large portion that are currently working in a full-time job, or on a local farm. This makes it incredibly difficult for them to work a schedule that most of our students in Columbus would have. They also do not have professional advisors, but, faculty advisors who help them select their classes. They do have a very strong and committed academic success program, with academic mentors and professional tutors. Their tutors specialize in certain subjects, and are available to help students in many of their classes. One thing that was emphasized for us was how closely all of their support units work with each other. It was very easy to get the sense that the students can view the campus as a second home.
Kathy Yoder, the Head Librarian, gave us a tour of her library space. The library is main hub where students go to get just about any of their questions answered. Their librarians help with everything from finding resources, scheduling classes, and answering technology questions. Kathy makes sure that the space is very inviting for students, and even keeps a blanket and pillow on a couch in one of the quiet spaces of the library. As she explained, many of their students start working on their farms or other jobs at 4:00 a.m. They come to class, and if they have a break, they want a place to sleep.
After a break for lunch, we ended our day learning about Program Excel, and the academic coaching that ATI provides for under-resourced students. They have six (6) full-time Academic Mentors and Coaches who help students determine which classes to enroll in, provide individual and group tutoring, and help students improve other “soft skills,” like self-efficacy, interpersonal communication, and time management. Each Mentor and Coach specializes in one or two key academic areas, to help students in specific subjects and courses. Program Excel has also had a very strong record of success, with over half of ATI’s 2014-2015 Phi Theta Kappa members and Outstanding Student Award winners being members of Program Excel. We were all very impressed with the outstanding work that ATI is doing with these students, and the dedication that the staff has shown to provide their students with such opportunities for success.
Last, but not least, many members of our group stopped in the floral shop. They grow poinsettias in their greenhouse, and create and sell handmade floral arrangements. Several of our members did bring home some of the arrangements for the holidays. Fearing that I would make a horrible choice, I opted not to. You can see a gallery of their arrangements here: http://ati.osu.edu/node/1623
We all had an outstanding visit, and would recommend that anyone who wants a glimpse of staff that truly cares for it’s students take a trip up to Wooster. Thank you again to everyone who made our trip memorable, and we look forward to our next visit!
Special Thanks to:
Dee Dee Snyder