Industry in the News


Culver’s Thank You Farmers donated $1.7M+ to ag education

Educational program being offered for women in ag


President Trump talks directly to Rural America at AFBF Convention

Olympic gold medalist inspires farmers


Tractor Supply launches 3rd annual FFA Grants for Growing

Research outlines interconnected benefits of urban agriculture


Hancock County Agriculture Hall of Fame nominations being taken

Ohio farm couple wins American Farm Bureau Excellence in Agriculture Award


Iowa’s pork industry

Robb: Livestock outlook positive for 2018

Alumni Spotlight, Melanie Wilt ’98

[ACEL]: Hi Melanie! Why did you select agricultural communication as your major?
[Wilt]: My high school biology teacher assigned a paper to write about a career in science and interview a professional in the field. My dad suggested I speak with his former fraternity brother (Tim Reeves, then editor of Ohio’s Country Journal). After an hour on the phone, I hung up and said “People really get paid to talk about farming?” My first agricultural communication class was awesome and I went back to the dorm every day chattering about what I learned to my roomies. It turned out to be exactly the right path for me!

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
My parents are Ohio State alums, and all four of the kids in my immediate family are now alums. I
didn’t even apply anywhere else!

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
Ohio State provided a ton of opportunities and a network I couldn’t have imagined being a kid from a high school graduating class of 57. It provided me a global perspective and built on a passion for agriculture that was there from a young age. The connections that I still have from OSU are now colleagues, clients, mentors and friends.

How were you involved on campus as a student?
The extracurricular activities I gleaned the most from were internships and work experiences, especially at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Science’s (CFAES) Department of Communications and Technology, where part of my job was to manage media for Farm Science Review. In addition, I was involved in Ag Communicators of Tomorrow and developed a national network in my industry, including a lifelong friend who was an ag comm major at Michigan State.  I was a member of honoraries, such as Phalanx and Chimes.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
My favorite classes were of course the agricultural communication major classes, but I also learned a great deal from animal nutrition and a comparative politics class on central campus. That began the groundwork for my political career many years later! And, of course I’ve used the skills I learned in my food science wines class – both when I worked as chief of markets at ODA and as a hobby!

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education?
Dr. Ann Hollifield was my freshman advisor and was only at Ohio State for a short time, but she had a tremendous impact on my excitement for the field of agricultural communication. She encouraged me to learn about broadcast journalism and to take a couple political science classes. While I didn’t pursue broadcasting beyond college, it certainly prepared me for a career in public relations.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
I was Media Relations Manager for the Ohio Florists’ Association, which is now AmericanHort.

What different positions have you had throughout your career?
AmericanHort (formerly OFA), Ohio Department of Agriculture (in several different roles), Avetec,  Shift•ology Communication (formerly Wilt PR), and Clark County as an elected commissioner.

During your career, have you received any awards or honors?
Small Business of the Year from the Greater Springfield Chamber, 40 Under 40 from the Dayton Business Journal, Young Alumni Achievement Award from CFAES, many NAMA and PRSA awards, and earned my APR (Accreditation in Public Relations)

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
Starting my own business took a lot of guts and some sleepless nights, but I’m so glad I took the risk. It has paid off and then some!

What advice would you give to a current student?
It’s not about the money! Choose a career path that you love and are qualified for, and the rest will come together as you gain experience. You’ll be amazed what you can achieve in just a few short years in the “real world.” Oh, and do a volunteer internship – it could lead to your first paid internship.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
An appreciation for different perspectives and a means to channel my intense passion for agriculture into something productive and enjoyable.

Internship Spotlight on National Milk Day

Today is National Milk Day and we figured, what better day to highlight an internship done by agricultural communication senior Brianna Gwirtz with the American Dairy Association Mideast this past summer.

Go grab a glass of milk – your choice if you want to get chocolate or strawberry – and enjoy reading about her internship.


This past summer I had the opportunity to intern with the American Dairy Association Mideast. I have always loved animals and telling people about animal agriculture, so it was a great fit for me to do communication work to support the dairy industry and dairy farming. ADA Mideast represents dairy farmers in Ohio and in West Virginia and are based out of Columbus, Ohio.

My duties as an intern varied and were different every day, which was one of my favorite things about the internship! I did a little bit of everything, from designing print pieces, to writing blogs, to making social media graphics, creating advertisements and of course doing a lot of face-to-face communication work with folks at the Ohio State Fair.

Along the way, I did a lot more than just communication work too! I got to visit and tour dairy farms across the state of Ohio. Every Friday in June for Dairy Month we did a Facebook Live event from a dairy farm and focused on new topics at each farm. I learned so much about the dairy industry, since my background is actually in goats and beef cows.

I also got to go to Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio to meet dieticians and food influencers for a tour. I got to hear from experts on food waste, environmental care, and from livestock care about how dairy farmers are working to become sustainable. I also heard from nutritionists on the importance of dairy in the diet. I also got to go to the Village for their farm heritage days to talk to people about dairy.

One of the more non-traditional duties of my internship was replacing the walls and floors of the butter cow cooler at the state fair! It was a lot of hard work, but it was really neat to be able to walk past the butter cow display at the state fair and know that I contributed to such a popular attraction. I also got to help promote the butter cow sculpture by designing a post card and all the signs that were displayed in the cooler with the cow.

At the state fair, I got to meet hundreds of people and answer their questions about dairy cattle and dairy farming. I also got to witness the birth of some really adorable Guernsey calves! Working at the state fair and talking to people made me realize how lucky I am to have grown up with an agricultural background.

There were two large graphic designing projects that I worked on all summer that I make me really proud. One of them is a handout I did called Strong Bones for Kids. It felt really great to see the published handout and to know that it will be used by pediatricians and dieticians across Ohio. I also created a poster promoting school breakfasts. It is also really awesome to know that schools across Ohio and West Virginia will get to see my design work!

Overall, it was a really great internship and experience. The communication team at ADA Mideast are top notch and I learned so much from them. The people I got to meet along the way and the work I got to do was very fulfilling. I am a better agricultural communicator because I had the opportunity to intern with the American Dairy Association Mideast!

Happy National Milk Day!


Alumni Spotlight, Nick Zachrich ’07


[ACEL]: Hi Nick! You have completed a bachelor and master of science degree in agriculture. Why did you select that area to study?
[Zachrich]: I love to share knowledge of agriculture with anyone and everyone and always enjoy learning something new about agriculture.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
My passion for agriculture limited my search for a college but have always been a Buckeye at heart.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
I began working at Farm Science Review as a student and loved the people in the department as well as what Farm Science Review means to so many people in the agricultural industry. Ohio State is fortunate to have such an event of its magnitude with only a few farm shows that rival in size and scope. If I were not working at Ohio State, I would still be in the classroom. The professors in my time at Ohio State created a spark and excitement in me that built on my passion for teaching others about agriculture.

How were you involved as a student?
During my undergraduate education, I spent most of my free time working at Farm Science Review and working other jobs but was involved in Agricultural Education Society and very active in Block “O”.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
I took a class on management intensive grazing with Dr. David Zartman that I really enjoyed. I have a stronger background in agronomy which this class pulled together principles of growing forages with the practical application of feeding cattle.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education?
Dr. Whittington has inspired me from the time I switched my major to agricultural education with her upbeat attitude and encouragement to achieve goals.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
My roommate Scott and I went to Tempe to watch the National Championship football game which I would consider the most exciting football game ever.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
I was the agricultural education Instructor and FFA advisor for Fairview High School in Sherwood, Ohio.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
I am the youngest of only four Farm Science Review managers in 55 years.

What advice would you give to a current student? 
Enjoy your time with friends but prepare yourself with good professional habits starting now. The people around you at Ohio State can be great references for your future career.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
The most important thing that ACEL was able to cultivate in me is the understanding of why agricultural education is important in everyday life which becomes more evident all the time. Consumers are eager to know where their food comes from and how it is made and this can be accomplished one conversation at a time. Those of us involved in agriculture are a small percentage of the population but have a lot of knowledge that others seek.

Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Steinmetz ’13

[ACEL]: Hi Nicole! Why did you choose to major in Agriscience Education?
Growing up, I knew I always wanted to be a teacher. Helping teachers organize their classroom, grade papers, and even help to teach throughout elementary, middle, and high school was always a highlight of my school day. I would even play school with my friends and cousins on weekends and holidays where I was always the teacher and had binders full of worksheets to teach with. In middle school, I discovered how much I loved solving equations and was therefore set on going to BGSU and becoming a math teacher. But my life and career path changed when I stepped foot into my high school ag room. I had always been a member of 4-H, but my passion for agriculture was set on fire and I just couldn’t get enough of learning new things, trying new CDEs, and attending FFA activities. My agricultural educator was a prime example of an educator, mentor, and motivator. He pushed me to memorize the FFA Creed, learn parliamentary procedure, become an officer, and do so much more in the FFA that made me the person I am today. Year after year at State and National Conventions, he would always make me go to the Ohio State Booths and introduce me to everyone there, telling them I would go to OSU even though I kept saying I was going to BGSU. Unfortunately, my senior year brought some unexpected changes when I got the call from the superintendent that my ag teacher was in a fatal accident a couple hours ago. As chapter president, I took charge and my career path changed. I discovered my passion and dedication to agriculture was stronger than I ever realized and that ag teachers aren’t just teachers, but a huge impact in the students’ lives. Mr. Robert Hoffman was right, I wanted to do what he had always done for us: challenge us to change into the best version of us that we could be. I wanted to share my passion of agriculture, but also help to shape young adults into leaders and achievers. I wanted to give back to what had transformed me: Agricultural Education and the FFA.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
Once I knew that Agricultural Education was the major for me, there was no other choice in my mind. The Ohio State University was the only place for me. My older brothers were both students at The Ohio State University and I saw first-hand the experiences they had, the people and connections they made, and the quality of education they both received.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
I always knew that teaching was what I wanted to do and my education at Ohio State reinforced my desire. Through my involvement in student organizations, wide range of agricultural classes, and the faculty and staff at Ohio State, I was able to prepare myself for the classroom. After my Early Field Experience, BLOCK, and Student Teaching, I was excited to teach!

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student (student organizations, honoraries, campus jobs, Greek life, etc.):
As an Ohio State student, I took full advantage of getting involved. Through connections that my brothers had made at OSU, I was able to begin my involvement already at orientation when I was trained for the student assistant for CFAES Human Resources & Fiscal Departments in the Dean’s Office and continued in that position until graduation from OSU. Just about any night of the week, you could find me at a student organization meeting. I began my involvement with the Agricultural Education Society, Collegiate 4-H, and being on OSU Holiday High School Visitor. By spring of my Freshman year, I was a CFAES Ambassador, on the Scarlet & Gray Ag Day Planning Committee, CFAES Banquet Steering Committee, and Committee of 88. Throughout all these organizations I led in various ways such as president, vice president, co-chairs, treasurer, and committee chairs. I was honored to be elected as the OSU Undergraduate Student Government Senator for CFAES at the end of my Sophomore year and became a part of The Ohio State University Senate under the lead of President Gee. In addition, I served on the CFAES Student Council, CFAES Advancement Team, Student Panel for CFAES Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Search and ACEL Department Chair Search, CFAES Top 20 Seniors Selection Panel, and more in the College of Food, Agricultural, & Environmental Science. I began professional development at OSU by attending Cultural Competency Seminars, Ohio Soybean Industry Tour, Ohio Agri-Business Tour, Scinece Inquiry Based Teaching Institute, and Professional Development Nights. I was also inducted into the Towers Agricultural Honorary and the Gamma Sigma Delta International Agricultural Honorary. I was recognized as a CFAES Top 20 Senior and an OSU Top 20 Outstanding Senior because of my overall involvement at The Ohio State University.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State? What was your favorite and why?
I truly enjoyed the majority of my classes while at Ohio State, but my favorites were: BLOCK classes and trips to FFA Camp and Pennsylvania, food science and processing, welding, construction, public speaking, teaching methods, animal sciences, chocolate science, cultural competencies, and history of OSU.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education/career? How?
All the people at Ohio State had an influence, but Dr. M. Susie Whittington had the biggest impact on my education and career. She immediately made me feel welcomed to the ACEL family and took a special interest in me, my family, and my passion and desires. Not only did she influence me in the classroom, but also as the advisor of Agricultural Education Society. Her strong passion and excitement was always shining and contagious. She was also the reason why I got involved with undergraduate research focusing on cultural proficiency and did several presentations including the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Conference, CFAES Research Forum, OSU Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, Annual National Urban Education Institute, and published by Annual National Agricultural Education Research Conference. As a result, I was also able to graduate with Research Distinction on my diploma. Dr. Whittington was and still always there for advice and guidance. It’s the little things that make her such an impact on my career whether it’s a hug and asking about life or sending a text to say happy birthday. She has been a great role model as a leader in agricultural education and The Ohio State University.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
So many memories flow through my mind as a student at The Ohio State University- leading student organizations, organizing Scarlet & Gray Ag Day, going to mirror lake jump with the ACEL Department Chair, the discipline lab for Methods class, welding class, helping others choose OSU as a college ambassador, going to President Gee’s house for an Undergraduate Student Government social- but my favorite memory overall would have to be when I found out I was selected as a Top 20 Outstanding Senior for The Ohio State University. This came as a complete surprise to me as I had always worked for a cause, not applause. I was doing what I loved and having a blast doing so; it wasn’t about winning an award. I was blessed with this honor to be recognized for all the hard work and dedication I had given to my classes, research, and student organizations as well as my love for The Ohio State University.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State? Following my education at Ohio State, I began my teaching career at Riverdale Local Schools in Mt. Blanchard, OH.

For what schools, companies and/or organizations have you worked throughout your career?
Following graduation from OSU, I was blessed to serve on the CFAES Alumni Society Board for three years. I have continued my career with Riverdale Local Schools where I have taught courses including: Introduction to Agriculture; Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources; Livestock Science; Plant & Animal Science; Ag Business Management; Mechanical Principles; Science & Technology of Food; Ag Communications & Leadership; and FFA Officer Capstone. In 2014, I implemented a middle school program. I have also served as the District Membership Chair since 2014.  Furthermore, I have served as the Riverdale Education Association Treasurer and currently as Co-President. In 2016, I began work as the Hancock County Junior Fair Coordinator and Junior Fair Board Advisor in addition to teaching at Riverdale.

During your career, have you received any awards or honors? If so, what are those?
I’ve been blessed to be nominated by students and teachers to be recognized as the Teacher of the Week several times at Riverdale. Last spring, I was also nominated by a few students for the Hancock County Golden Apple Award. This award is designed to recognize the best of the best teachers in Hancock County. I have been selected as one of three finalists in the high school division and the winner will be announced on October 18.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
I’ve worked with great students, earning 15 American Degrees and 25 State Degrees. We’ve been a recipient of several grants including: Food for Thought, Monsanto Growing Rural Education, National FFA Living to Serve, Syngenta Blue Jacket & Chapter, and others. I’ve seen students grow and realize they are a part of something bigger than themselves while at State Convention, FFA Camp, Washington Leadership Conference, or National Convention. We’ve had several state CDE teams including Parliamentary Procedure, Ag Power Diagnostics, and Food Science. I’ve been able to work with two OSU students for their Early Field Experience. I’ve experienced Washington Leadership Conference with agricultural educators from all over the nation. I’ve attended great professional development workshops. But most importantly, is the reward of seeing growth in my students. Knowing that “my kids” are stepping out of their comfort zone to change themselves, their school, and their communities is such an incentive to keep doing what I’m doing. I love helping students realize their passion for agriculture and choosing a career in agriculture. The biggest highlight was seeing “my first babies” grow from freshmen to seniors, graduate, and now some of them in agricultural careers or pursing degrees in agriculture, even agricultural education!

What advice would you give to a current student?
My best advice to current students is to “Live the Dash” – truly live that little line between your year of birth to year of death and to live each day to the fullest. Keep learning, make mistakes, get involved, challenge yourself, try new things, never regret, and don’t take any day for granted. The experiences you have at OSU and the people you meet at OSU will change your life.

What did ACEL cultivate in you? How?
ACEL cultivated passion in me – my passion for agriculture, relationships with people, and my passion for learning. ACEL grew the fire inside of me for teaching and making a difference in the lives of other each and every single day whether it’s big or small.


Alumni Spotlight: Allen Auck ’83, ’99 MS

Allen Auck completed a bachelor of science in agricultural education in 1983 and a master of sicence in 1999. Auck currently works for Ohio 4-H Youth Development as a program manager for events and activities.
[ACEL]: Hi Allen! Why did you select a major in agricultural education?
[Auck]: I chose agricultural education because I had an interest in teaching.
Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
Ohio State was one of only two colleges that offered the agricultural education major.
What were you involved in as an Ohio State student:
I was involved in Collegiate 4-H, Agricultural Education Society and I worked basketball inter-murals as an official.
What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
My first job following my education at Ohio State was a vocational agriculture instructor.
Throughout your career, where have you worked?
Bluffton Exempt Village Schools, Erie County 4-H Camps and The Ohio State University.
During your career, have you received any awards or honors? If so, what are those?
Distinguished Service Award, 4-H,
Meritorious Service Award, 4-H, 25 year award.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Aaron Fowler

Aaron Fowler is a Program Assistant for OSU Extension Greene County where he teaches SNAP-Ed

Aaron Fowler is a student in our online Master’s program and is also a Program Assistant for OSU Extension Greene County. A native of Greene County, Aaron grew up in Fairborn, Ohio where he was first introduced to 4-H when he was 16. Aaron joined 4-H in high school and credits the program for helping to “break him out of his shell.” Although Aaron participated in other activities such as ROTC and Marching Band, he feels that the 4-H is unique in its ability to provide each person with an individual voice and find that person’s unique talents. Aaron found that 4-H helped him to see leadership as something that can be grown and nurtured instead of a characteristic that some people are born with.  He says that 4-H gave him a sense of purpose and impact as well as an ability to see that what he had to offer was valuable and not just a repeat of what someone else had to offer. His positive experiences with 4-H have helped shaped his career decisions and are helping to direct Master’s project as well.

Aaron earned his undergraduate degree from Wright State University where he majored in Psychology.  After college, he went to work for a local mental health organization where he worked with clients in group home settings. While he enjoyed this experience, he found that he was limited in the ways in that he could help clients and so the impact was not always as good as it could have been.  One way Aaron saw that he made a difference was when clients came to Aaron to talk through their troubles. He could see that these mini- therapy sessions were beneficial and that many times his clients just needed someone to talk to.  While this was rewarding, he was sometimes frustrated with a system that he wished was “a little bit different.”  Aaron was still involved in 4-H as an advisor and found that he enjoyed this type of a role which led him to consider a career in Extension. Aaron’s first job made him an advocate for mental health, something he also hopes to incorporate in his Master’s project.

Aaron Fowler at the Greene County Fair

Aaron now works with SNAP-Ed where he enjoys the “immediate impact” he sees in his clients through education.  While Aaron teaches SNAP-Ed to a wide range of ages from preschool to senior citizens, he primarily works with students in alternative high schools. He uses the Extension program, “My Plate” to teach low-income families how to eat healthy on a limited budget. Eating healthy does not have to be something that breaks your budget.  Aaron is inspired by Roger Rennekamp’s description of the SNAP-Ed program:  if SNAP benefits are the fish, then SNAP-Ed is like teaching people how to fish.

Aaron distributing awards at the Greene County Fair

For his Master’s project, Aaron hopes to combine his passion for 4-H with his advocacy for those with mental illness. He would like to see 4-H become the activity that youth with disability and mental health disorders come to as their source for development outside of school.  For this, he draws inspiration from Temple Grandin who credits 4-H and having the ability to work with animals from a young age in helping inspire her in her work.  Aaron is just finishing his first semester in the program, so he is still not quite sure how he is going to combine these ideas in his project, but this is the direction he would like to take. In addition to his academics, Aaron serves as the online representative for the Graduate Student Association.  This role is still developing, but Aaron as an online student himself, Aaron would like to find ways to keep the students in the online program involved with the Graduate Student Association. This may be through Zoom lunches or other distance opportunities.  Watch for more information on this as the semester progresses.  The one constant is that he is looking to make sure that everyone feels like they are part of the group.  If you are an online student and have ideas for Aaron, please feel free to e-mail (fowler.440).  When not busy with his graduate studies, Aaron enjoys spending time with his family.  He is lucky that brother Ryan, sister Emma, and mom Karla are also located in Greene County and they are able to get together often.

One year from today, this could be you!

Olivia visited Washington DC this past semester with a delegation from Ohio Farm Bureau.

Hello seniors –

I just completed my first semester at Ohio State as an agriscience education major! My first semester was filled with passionate professors, great new friends and even more.

Through Ohio State’s ACEL program I have been able to learn from great and experienced professors that I believe are setting me up for success in the future. Along with amazing experiences in the classroom, I’m currently participating in my first study abroad trip to Nicaragua where I’ll be learning about agriculture from global perspective.

I hope you’ll consider joining me at Ohio State as a Buckeye next year!
Go Bucks!



Yesterday was the last day of final exams for students at The Ohio State University. One year from today, you could be done with your first semester as an Ohio State Buckeye! Doesn’t that sound exciting?

If you are interested in becoming an Ohio State Buckeye, visit to complete your application. Applications for Autumn 2018 admission are due February 1, 2018. If you haven’t already visited campus, schedule an “Experience Ohio State for a Day” visit to learn more about the majors of agricultural communication, agriscience education and community leadership.

Industry in the News


Caldwell High School reboots ag education after 50-year gap

SD Agricultural Education and FFA: The 1940s and World War II impact


USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture invests in the safety, health of farmers

Farmer uses live broadcasting to promote agricultural products in E Chinn


How The Thomas Fire Could Affect An Already Struggling Economy In Ventura

Can a GM banana solve Uganda’s hunger crisis?


Kin Corriedales bloodline goes well beyond the state line

Davis honored by Ohio Farm Bureau


Bins locked tight waiting for prices to rise

U.S. livestock: CME hogs at three-month low on cash, pork prices

Alumni Spotlight, Curtis Niedermier, ’07

Photo courtesy of Britney DeShea Photography

Curtis Niedermier graduated from Ohio State with a degree in agricultural communication in 2007. Shortly after graduation, he began working for FLW as an associate editor for their magazines. These days, Niedermier is responsible for the editorial content on

[ACEL]: Hi Curtis! You majored in agricultural communication. What influenced you to chose that major?
[Niedermier]: It’s complicated! For starters, I have a lot of interests, and often fleeting interests, and as a result I never really knew what I wanted to study or what I wanted to do after graduation, except I knew I was interested in writing. I always figured I’d find a job and then pursue freelance writing on the side, with hopes that I could write for outdoor magazines and maybe do some traveling to pursue my interests in hunting and fishing. Yet, for the first couple of years of college I never really considered pursuing journalism as a major. So I started with architecture then changed to construction systems management (CSM), which is when I really got involved on the “other side of the river” at CFAES.

When I decided to ditch CSM, I learned about agricultural communication, and I found out I could stay in CFAES, which is where I really wanted to be, but could also take journalism classes that counted toward my major. That sealed it for me. The nicest people I met at Ohio State were all involved in CFAES, and having grown up in a small rural town in northern Ohio, I really felt like I belonged on the CFAES campus. It was a small school within a massive university. I was able to take advantage of the opportunities provided by a university like Ohio State with the perks of a smaller college feel.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
As I mentioned, I started off as an architecture major, and there are only a few schools in Ohio with accredited architecture programs. Ohio State is one of them. The OSU football team winning the 2002 national championship really sealed it for me. That game took place right when I was deciding where to go, and after that I was hooked on being a Buckeye.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your career path?
Obviously, my path at Ohio State wandered a little bit, but the choices I made really did set me up for my career. All of my advisors and professors in the agricultural communication program were positive people, and they all encouraged us to pursue big goals and dreams. That attitude helped give me the confidence to move away from Ohio after graduation and pursue a career in outdoor journalism. Also, I was able to participate in a couple of key internships while I was in the program that helped me get my entry-level job.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
I joined several student organizations aligned with my various majors, but the most impactful experience I had at Ohio State was being part of Alpha Zeta Partners. I made lifelong friends, had a great advisor in Dr. Garee Earnest and got to travel abroad to Brazil. The AZP program taught a lot of important lessons for me, and it came at just the right time, when I realized I needed to grow up and focus on where I wanted to go in life. I’m very proud to have been a part of it.

I was also a member of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow and was one of three student organizers of Scarlet and Gray Ag Day.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State? What was your favorite and why?
Does volleyball count, because I enjoyed that class? Really, I loved any class where I could learn and practice writing and editing, but my favorite was a magazine journalism class that was taught in the evenings by a full-time editor. My basic news writing class was also taught by an editor from The Columbus Dispatch. Their experience as working journalists was very valuable to all the students in the classes, and I still recount things they said or taught me to the writers I work with today.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education/career? How?
As I mentioned, Garee Earnest was a great advisor for AZP. I really looked up to Garee and stayed in touch with him for quite a while after graduation – though, unfortunately, not as much recently. He always pushed everyone to be better and to be leaders, which is what AZP is really about. He was a big positive influence in my last two years at Ohio State.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
Had I actually made it onto the field when Ohio State beat Michigan in Columbus to go undefeated in 2006, that might have been it, but since the law stopped me before I could get there I’d say spending six weeks in Brazil as part of AZP was the best experience, hands down. The reasons why are too many to list here. It was life-changing. I’m sure most AZP members who made the trip would say the same thing.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
I started at FLW about two weeks after graduation in 2007, and I’ve been with the company ever since. I celebrated 10 years in June.

For those who don’t know, FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization. We host bass fishing tournaments all over the country and license our brand to several international fishing circuits. Our events range from national-level pro events with six-figure payouts to local tournaments for the weekend angler to free high school and college events where students can win scholarships. Ohio State has a very competitive college fishing team.

My first job was as associate editor in the magazine department. At that time, we were publishing magazines for bass, walleye and saltwater fishing, each eight times per year. Our media department has transitioned several times in my career, and now we focus solely on bass fishing. I manage the editorial for, which includes reporting for most of the tournaments, and for FLW Bass Fishing magazine.

You said you’ve worked for FLW for 10 years. Have you worked anywhere else?
FLW is it. But I’ve also done some freelance writing for a few other publications and websites. The most notable is Outdoor Life. I also co-authored and co-self-published a book called Walleye Trolling with Capt. Ross Robertson, a Lake Erie walleye fishing guide.

During your career, have you received any awards or honors? If so, what are those?
Staying employed for an outdoor magazine for 10 years is an accomplishment, but there’s no reward for that other than a steady paycheck. Most awards for outdoor writing are managed by outdoor writer associations, and I’m not a member of any, nor have we ever submitted our magazine for award consideration. My reward is that the FLW website is one of the most popular fishing websites on the internet, and one of the fastest growing. And the magazine is regarded as one of the best fishing magazines in the country. The work done by the writers, editors, photographers and video producers in my department is seen by hundreds of thousands of people every year. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
There are particular stories I’ve written that stand out as my favorites, and there have been some fantastic trips to cover tournaments or to fish around the country. Those have all been highlights. Also, we just conducted our annual championship tournament, which is called the Forrest Wood Cup. It’s a huge event, with an outdoor expo, country concert, BBQ festival and a bunch of activities. This year’s attendance was more than 68,000. It’s the highlight of the year for me every year, and the memories I have from past championships will last forever.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Two things: First, take chances early in your life, because as you get older it becomes more difficult to take risks. When I was preparing to graduate, I never thought I’d leave home, but I took a chance and moved away to another time zone. Taking that chance set up my career and changed my life. It would be much harder to do something like that at this point in my life, now that I have a wife and a little girl. The second thing would be to consider opportunities to work for yourself, even if it’s not full time. I’ve never been fully self-employed, but I’ve done enough freelance writing to know that there’s a great reward for being your own boss and working for yourself. An entrepreneurial spirit is also a valuable thing in any workplace because companies need people who think big and recognize opportunities to grow.

What did ACEL cultivate in you? How?
More than anything I just felt like I belonged there. As I wrote earlier, I needed the small community atmosphere of CFAES and ACEL to really feel like I belonged at Ohio State. It’s such a big university that it’s easy to feel lost. Once I made it to ACEL, I was a lot more comfortable, and my confidence grew. From there, opportunities began to open up, and now I do what I love for a living.