Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Garrett Scior, ’04

Rachel Garrett Scior is a 2004 alum of the agricultural education major at Ohio State. She grew up in Pickaway County and continues to reside there today with her family. She teaches on the Circleville Campus of the Pickaway Ross Career & Technical Center where she teaches veterinary science and is the advisor for the Stoneridge FFA chapter.

[ACEL]: Hello Rachel! What inspired you to select agricultural education as your major in college?
[Scior]: I chose to major in agricultural education because the FFA organization gave me opportunities to learn, grow, lead and develop skills that have had a lasting impact on my life. I felt that because the FFA had given me so much, that I wanted to serve it and give back to the organization and change students lives, the way it had changed mine.

Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
I actually began dreaming of attending The Ohio State University in 8th grade.  My parents both went to OSU and exposed me to the university and football games when I was young.  At the time, a huge passion of mine was playing percussion in the band, and I remember clearly watching TBDBITL thunder out of the ramp and telling my Dad….that’s what I wanted to do.  As I grew in high school, I also discovered that I wanted to major in something related to agriculture, so Ohio State was a natural fit for me.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
I declared my major when I entered Ohio State, I knew I wanted to be in agriculture education.  I remember wrestling with whether I wanted to be an extension agent or a classroom teacher, but as I progressed in my coursework, Ohio State had a strong teacher education program and it influenced me to go the classroom route.

What courses did you enjoy in your major?
I enjoyed a lot of my classes, but my favorite ones were American history, animal science, animal nutrition and the agricultural education course work.  I also REALLY loved a plant science class that was held in Orton Hall, because I love history and it was really neat to be in that historic place.

Was there a faculty member or professor that was influential to your education?
I enjoyed having Dr. Susie Whittington.  I attribute most of my classroom management and the way I approach education to her. I also really appreciated that she cared about each of us, and went out of her way to get to know us as individuals. It is evident that she wants to see each of her students succeed and flourish. Her passion for training teachers is amazing, and I love that she always wants a big hug when she sees me.

We encourage our current students to get involved outside of the classroom. Were you a part of any student organizations?
I was involved in Agricultural Education Society, Alpha Sigma Upsilon, and I played quads in The Ohio State University Marching Band (2001-2003).  I also studied abroad in Australia, worked in the Dean’s office and held other odd jobs.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
I have two favorite memories  the first was marching at the National Championship game for the 2002 season. I remember the hair on the back on my neck standing up as we flanked up-field playing Buckeye Battle Cry; I have never heard a crowd roar as loud as that!

The second memory is related to being involved in Alpha Sigma Upsilon, and taking the “long walk” as a group.  It surprised me how much I loved the girls in that group, and how many lasting friendships I made by getting out of my comfort zone and joining.

Following graduation, what was your first job?
In July of 2005 I was hired at Greenon High School in Clark county as an agricultural education teacher.

For what schools, companies and/or organizations have you worked throughout your career?
2005-2008 Greenon High School agriculture teacher
2009-2015 Westfall High School (also a PRCTC Satellite) agriculture teacher
2015-Present PRCTC-Stoneridge animal sciences teacher

Share with us a few awards that you have received during your teaching career.
I consider my awards to be mostly influencing and watching my students grow. I have coached many good CDE teams, had two students serve as State Officers for the Ohio FFA Association, several state winning proficiencies, etc. Watching students I have mentored succeed is more fulfilling than winning awards personally, in my opinion. I have been elected to serve as the Ohio Association for Agricultural Educators (OAAE) President, and also was selected as a CASE Master Teacher in 2017.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
My favorite career highlight would be National FFA Convention in 2015, because I had two students win awards at the national level. It was thrilling to be on stage with them and see how excited they were. It’s pretty humbling to be a part of their successes.

What advice would you give to a current student?
My advice to a current student would be to get involved!  Join clubs/organizations, make friends, travel, be generous with your time and money, study, and don’t worry so much. College goes by too quickly, try to live in the moment and have fun!

Our theme for our centennial celebration is “Cultivating Futures” What was cultivated in you during your time at Ohio State?
ACEL cultivated in me a sense of purpose. It gave me the tools and direction I needed to go out into the world and make a difference in the community I serve.


Alumni Spotlight: Bernie Scott, ’61, ’77

Bernard J. “Bernie” Scott, came to Ohio State from his hometown of Zanesville where he attended Jefferson-Dresden High School (now known as Tri-Valley High School). He completed a bachelor’s and master’s degree in agricultural education in 1961 and 1977, respectively. Scott is a retired agricultural educator, but is an active member in the community of Tontogany. He is a supervisor and chair of the Wood Soil and Water Conservation District, a member of the Ohio Envirothon Contest Committee, the Erie Basin Resource Conservation & Development Council and the Wood County United Way Advisory Board, trustee for the Agricultural Incubator Foundation and the Grand Rapids Historical Society, delivers meals for the Wood County Committee on Aging and is the newsletter editor for the Wood County Retired Teachers Association.

Hi Bernie! At Ohio State, you majored in agricultural education. Why did you select that major?
I was influenced and somewhat invited to major in agricultural education at Ohio State mostly by my first college roommate Mr. Jim Helt and my second year roommate and close high school friend Mr. Robert Thomas. My career in agricultural education teaching was firmly planted during the wonderful second quarter of apprenticeship teaching while partnering with Mr. Dennis Swartz.

You chose to be a Buckeye? Why not attend another school?
I chose Ohio State in 1956 because it was the only agricultural college in Ohio! My first introduction to the OSU campus occurred in June 1953 when I won the right to represent our Jefferson-Dresden High School FFA chapter’s General Livestock Judging Team in the state contest. I just completed my freshman year and was attending my first combined Ohio FFA Convention/State Judging Contests, little did I realize I was attending the first ever Ohio FFA Banquet for the 25th Silver Anniversary Celebration.

Did your education at Ohio State influence your decision for your career?
My early choice of taking the Intro to Ag Ed class in spring quarter of 1957 under Dr Willard Wolf in Ives Ag Engineering Hall and at least one field trip seeing Mr. Earl Kantner teaching at Canal Winchester High School, started my focus in agricultural education teaching as a career choice. I watched the present Agricultural Administration Building and St. John Arena being constructed in 1956 on my way to Poultry Science Building!

Were you involved in any activities outside of the classroom?
My college career activity consisted mainly of classes and part time college jobs to support myself starting as a noontime lunch waiter in a small diner on Chittenden Avenue where I got a free 72-cent noon lunch special and one dollar for 2 hours of work. Later I worked part time parking cars at downtown Lazarus Department Store.  I finished my part time college jobs working evenings and Saturdays at the Columbus Dispatch Newspaper in the Advertising Service Department for the morning Citizen Journal and the daily evening and Sunday Dispatch. Several summer jobs included the Stancor Electronics Co. , Clarksburg Cardboard Co., Hazel Atlas Glass Co., and the Armco Steel Company. I did attend several Townsend Ag Ed Society activities and meetings when possible.  We never stayed in a university housing, but lived at 66 Chittenden Avenue in a rooming house with other students for $5 per week.

Did you have any classes that were your favorites?
I was always focused on agricultural education/FFA, which made all agriculture related classes my favorites. One class in particular taken as a reported easy 3 credit hour communication class turned into a special and memorable one because it was held in a small radio and television production lab in lower level of Derby Hall. The class actually made in-house radio/television shows with students taking turns running the set equipment and staring! The instructor labeled me to do mostly farm market reports and country interviews, because I had “ruralism” in my voice. My “ruralism’ served me well in my career!

Many current agricultural educators from around the state have looked to you as a mentor and a positive example of an agricultural educator. Did you have a professor or mentor that you looked up to while you were a student and beyond?
To pick one professor as being most influential it would go to Dr. Ralph Bender, chair of the department, during whose class I used his textbook, and later on, observing us during student teaching that always ended in encouraging words.

Of your time at Ohio State, what is a memory that you hold close to your heart?
My most memorable moment at Ohio State might have been attending the 1957and 1958 ROTC Military Ball in the Ohio Union with my high school sweetheart, now my wife of 56 years. ROTC was a mandatory class for all male students in the 1950’s.

After you completed your degree in agricultural education, what was your first job?
My first teaching job in 1962 was substitute teaching vocational agriculture at Olentangy  High School in Delaware County for about two weeks while the regular instructor full-filled some military training. It started on the same day that John Glenn Orbited the Earth in Friendship 7. In May 1962 I interviewed for Otsego High School, was hired, and arrived July 1, 1962 and 38 years later retired from Otsego. Entire career in same school!

Throughout those 38 years, and even post-retirement, what awards have you received?
Many honors and awards in rank order:
2013: Ohio Agricultural Hall Of Fame Inductee
2009: Robert Duncan Ohio State Alumni Association Citizenship Award
2007: OSU Ag College Distinguished Alumni Award
2013: Inaugural Induction Wood County Agricultural Hall of Fame
2015: Otsego High School Hall of Fame
1983: Honorary American Farmer FFA Degree
1988: and 2001 Spirit of Wood County Award
2014: Volunteer Fire fighter of the Year award
2015: 50 Year Volunteer Fire Fighter Service Recognition
1996: American Legion Regional Educator of the Year Award
2002: Inaugural Induction into Otsego High School Athletic Boosters Hall of Fame (I never coached any sports!)

Share with us a few things from your career that you are very proud of or consider a highlight.

  1. I have a few to share. I served on the design and steering committee of the first specialized Agriculture Education Programs in the first JVS School District in Ohio –Penta JVS /CC.  It started with concept discussion to operating in 14 months in 1965.
  2. I also designed and constructed and introduced to the world the first public use “Flowing Grain Entrapment Rescue Tube” in 1982 at The BGSU Fire School.
  3. I suggested, designed, and constructed the Ohio FFA Association’s 1979 50th Golden Anniversary Time Capsule which I helped open at the 75th Ohio FFA Anniversary Convention in 2003.  It was in the shape of the NASA Space Shuttle with top opening doors and was filled and closed 3 years before the real space shuttle flew in space.
  4. And lastly, being the spark that envisioned an agriculture field trip/land lab site at the former H. J. Heinz Research Farm in the Otsego School District in 1996 that we help secure and became a co-founder of the now Agricultural [Business/Research] Incubator Foundation.

Even though it’s been a few years since you have been a student, what advice do you have for today’s students who aspire to teach agriculture like you?
I have several pieces of advice for today’s students:

  • Always be prepared to recognize the best opportunities that will come your way!
  • 95% of your future success and happiness depends on whom you marry!
  • Strive in all your future endeavors to make 2+2 equal more than 4 maybe even a 5 or 6 or even a 10

What did ACEL cultivate in you as a student?
Plain and simple ACEL cultivated “classroom and community” along with “SUCCESS” !

Alumni Spotlight: Melinda McKay Witten, ’07

Melinda McKay Witten graduated from The Ohio State University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. She majored in agricultural and extension education. She came to Columbus in 2003 from her hometown of Stockport, Ohio, but now resides in Beverly, Ohio with her family. She works for Ohio Farm Bureau where she is the Director of Leadership Programming and coordinates the Young Ag Professionals and AgriPOWER Leadership Institute programs.

[ACEL]: Hi Melinda! You majored in agricultural and extension education while at Ohio State. Why did you select that major?
[Witten]: I selected agriculture education because I wanted to be an ag teacher, inspiring students to be involved in the agriculture industry. However, I have never taught in a classroom! Instead, I get to work with wonderful leaders at Ohio Farm Bureau! ​

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
From the moment I set foot on campus as high school student, I knew that is where I was meant to be. I LOVED the energy, excitement and opportunities that OSU provided for their students. This was especially true on the CFAES campus! And, it was completely different from my small hometown. I could walk to a Wendy’s!

While at Ohio State, how did the courses you took influence your career path?
​I loved the agriculture education classes because we were subjected to a variety of topics. The saying “Jack of all trades, master of none” was very true for my studies at OSU. I loved being exposed to all the subject areas. During my student teaching period, I learned that the traditional ag classroom setting was not for me. ​I loved it but my true calling was to work for Farm Bureau and their volunteers!

Did you have a favorite class?
​While it was the hardest and must frustrating class, I loved agricultural and construction systems management 300-301 with Dr. Lichensteiger. The workload was intense but I still use that information to this day. ​Anyone who had his class knows about his “green sheet of conversion tables”. That conversion sheet still hangs in my kitchen cupboard today!

We have heard many students say that class was beneficial. I’m glad it was for you too! Outside of the classroom, were you involved in any student organizations?
I was involved in the Agricultural Education Society. ​I decided to focus my efforts to on one organization while balancing my internships with Ohio Farm Bureau.

What professor had an impact on your time at Ohio State?
I loved working with all the agricultural education staff. Dr. Susie Whittington was very supportive of all of her students and found a way to connect with each one of us.

All alumni have a few memories that stand out the most to them. What is yours?
“How Firm Thy Friendships” is so very true. Many of my fondest memories involve the friends I made at OSU! And I also really love the memory of Ohio State beating *ichigan at the last second to go to the National Championship my senior year (2007).

Following graduation in 2007, what was your first job?
I was the organization director for Ohio Farm Bureau in Logan, Hardin and Wyandot counties. ​

You started with Ohio Farm Bureau in 2007 and still work there. Have you changed roles?
I have only worked for Ohio Farm Bureau! I have had many roles there over the years before landing at my current one as the Director of Young Ag Professionals and the AgriPOWER Institute.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
My favorite highlight is the growth of the Young Ag Professionals program. The program has grown to have over 650 attendees at their Winter Leadership Conference, one of the largest in the nation.  And over 49 local YAP programs across the state. I am beyond excited to know that younger folks want to be involved in agriculture!

What advice would you give to a current student?
It is a very small world, especially in agriculture. Always be kind and professional because that reputation will get you further than an A in your hardest classes!

Great advice for our current students. Last question. What did ACEL cultivate in you?
It exposed me to many great connections to the agriculture industry. I didn’t realize it at the time but those connections have remained valuable today!​

Witten with college friends at the 2006 Ohio State vs. Michigan football game. #1 (Ohio State) vs. #2 (Michigan). Winner went to the National Championship Game, which was Ohio State!

Bowling to join ACEL faculty

Dr. Amanda Bowling will join the Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership faculty as a visiting assistant professor for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 academic years.

Bowling will fill many of the teaching responsibilities in the data analysis and statistics area that opened following the retirement of Dr. Jamie Cano. She will also engage with the agriscience education program by supervising student teachers.

A recent PhD graduate in agricultural education from the University of Missouri, Bowling spent six years as a high school agriculture teacher and FFA advisor in Missouri and most recently worked as a graduate assistant during her graduate studies. Her dissertation focused on psychological needs and motivation of youth in school-based agricultural education, with much of that work focused on the contests of Career Development Events.

Dr. Bowling’s appointment will begin on August 15, 2017.

Alumni Spotlight: Tori Thomas-Dunton, ’90

Tori Thomas-Dunton came to Ohio State from her hometown of Conesville, Ohio in the fall of 1986 to major in agricultural communication. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1990 and now resides in Acme, Pennsylvania where she is an independent contractor for A to Z Promotions as an account executive.

Read our conversation below about her time as an Ohio State Buckeye.

[ACEL]: Hi Tori! You majored in agricultural communication as a student at Ohio State. Why?
[Thomas-Dunton]: I chose agricultural communication because I had a desire to write for an agricultural publication.

Out of all the colleges available, why did you chose to attend Ohio State?
I chose Ohio State because I wanted to be a Buckeye and they were the best choice for an agricultural degree.

Did you have any favorite classes while you were a student?
A few classes that I really enjoyed were Ag Econ 101 with Dr. Glenn Himes.  He made the class enjoyable with fun projects and stories. My agricultural communication classes with both Dr. Agunga and Dr. Paulson were also favorites because they helped fuel my passion for writing.

Ohio State gives students a lot of opportunities for involvement. Did you participate in any activities outside of the classroom?
I began as a writer for the AgriNaturalist magazine and became editor for the Autumn 1990 publication.  I was an ACT (Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow) member.  I completed an internship with Milgrom and Associates, an event marketing firm responsible for attaining sponsorship for The Ohio State Fair. I also worked at Jesse Owens North Recreation Center, Ohio Agricultural Statistics and Lazarus department store.

Do you have any favorite memories from your time at Ohio State?
When I was the editor for the AgriNaturalist, we worked through the night to complete it for publication.  I even grabbed a couple hours sleep on Dr. Robert Agunga’s office floor.

After you completed your education at Ohio State, what was your first job following graduation?
I worked in sales at an AM/FM radio stations in southwestern Pennsylvania.

How does your education at Ohio State help you in your current position?
My current job is not in the agricultural industry, but I do have agricultural companies that are my customers.  Because of my agricultural background and education at Ohio State, it is easier for me to search for the right products to fit their needs.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Get involved inside and outside the classroom! Meet new people and soak up new experiences.  Those connections that you make now may lead you to a future job or career.

Ohio State agriscience education students will continue to ‘grow the next gen’

Dr. Susie Whittington and agrsicience education students Haley Sherman and Geoffrey Norris attended a grant presentation as a representative of Ohio State agriscience education at Battell on June 21, 2017.

The grant, presented to the Ohio Soybean Council from Battell, will allow pre-service agricultural educators to work with the GrowNextGen community for additional training time and materials to use while student teaching!

Thank you Battelle and Ohio Soybean Farmers for including Ohio State in this opportunity.

Ohio State Bound: Nicole

Welcome to Ohio State, Nicole!

Nicole is a recent graduate of North Union High School and will study agriscience education this fall.

When asked why she chose her major, she said “I chose agriscience education because my agricultural education classes changed my life so much. I don’t think I would be the same person without it. And I want to change someone’s life like it did me.”

She is excited to become a Buckeye for the experiences, new people and many memories that will come her way!

Ohio State Bound: Christie

Welcome to Ohio State, Christie!

She will study agricultural communication at the Columbus campus this fall.

When asked why she chose her major, Christie said “I chose agricultural communication because I’ve found a love for associating with people and writing. I’m most excited for the campus atmosphere and being a part of something much greater than myself!”

Ohio State Bound: Morgan

Welcome to the Buckeye family Morgan!

Morgan will major in agriscience education this fall.

When asked why she chose to major in agriscience education, she said “I chose my major because I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, but I could never decide what subject to teach until I joined FFA. I decided that this is the best option because it’s something I’m passionate about and always reminds me of my agricultural background and my roots.”

Ohio State Bound: Micayla

Welcome to the Buckeye family, Micayla!

Micayla is a recent graduate of Western Reserve Schools and will attend Ohio State ATI in the fall majoring in agriscience education.
When asked about why she selected her major, she said “I chose agriscience education because I love working with others and communicating. I chose agriculture as my subject to teach because growing up in a rural community, I realized that it is the most important subject that everyone should have the chance to learn more about. I chose to be in the high school setting because the younger generations are the ones who need to have the most attention. I believe that involvement at the younger ages has an influence on the choices they will make. With my involvement in the FFA, it has led me to fall in love with a future I would love to wake up to in the morning.”

Micayla is excited to be a Buckeye in the fall because of the experiences and friendships in her future.