CFAES Alumni Award: Dr. Bob Birkenholz



Dr. Robert Birkenholz
2019 CFAES Meritorious Service Award

In 2002, Dr. Robert J. Birkenholz assumed the role of Professor and chair of the then-named Department of Human and Community Resource Development or HCRD. Birkenholz provided important leadership during a time of financial struggles for Ohio State and amidst a department finding its identity. In 2009, Bob stepped out of his role to be a professor for what is now the community leadership major and the campus-wide leadership studies minor. He is an important reason why we have the L in ACEL.

Bob’s career is decorated with numerous awards for teaching and advising. In Spring 2018, the CFAES Celebration of Students banquet was dedicated in his honor. He has received several research awards for conference posters, conference papers, the Journal of Agricultural Education and NACTA Journal.  He has received the Honorary State FFA Degree in Missouri and Ohio and the Honorary American FFA Degree. Of particular awards of note: Bob was named the Distinguished Lecturer for the American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE) and was also named Fellow for AAAE in 1998. Bob’s legacy of giving to students continues in perpetuity at Ohio State with the Birkenholz Leadership Award Fund established in 2010 by him and his wife, Pam.

On September 1, 2018, Bob officially retired from Ohio State and earned the title of professor emeritus.


Congratulations to Dr. Bob Birkenholz on your recognition for your service to CFAES!

News Release: ACEL students selected to join CFAES ambassador team

Five students from the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership were recently selected to join the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Ambassador Team. The CFAES Ambassador Team members give prospective families tours of our college campus, serve as liaisons to the Ohio State student body to increase awareness around our college and attend CFAES events as representatives of the college.

ACEL students recently selected to join the team include:

  • Alexis Elliott, agricultural communication, Mount Victory, Ohio
  • Ethan Keller, agricultural communication, Sharon Springs, New York
  • Olivia Pflaumer, agriscience education, Chillicothe, Ohio
  • Paige Schaffter, agriscience education, Edon, Ohio
  • Brittany Weller, agriscience education, Bellevue, Ohio

“Their selection to serve as an CFAES ambassador not only signifies their abilities to represent our department, but to represent CFAES as a whole,” said Dr. Tracy Kitchel, professor and chair of ACEL. “Our students tend to be well-represented among the college ambassador ranks because of our department’s dedication to and study of connecting with people in and around our industries and communities.”

These five students join 12 ACEL students currently serving as a CFAES Ambassadors. They include: Emma Lynn Johnson (community leadership), Wyatt Jones (agriscience education), Taylor Lutz (agriscience education), Cody McClain (agriscience education), Micah Mensing (agriscience education) Abby Motter (agriscience education), Cody Myers (agriscience education), Meredith Oglesby (agricultural communication), Milan Pozderac (agriscience education), Sydney Snider (agricultural communication), Kayla Walls (agriscience education) and Meghann Winters (agricultural communication).

CFAES ambassadors are selected each Spring Semester through an application and interview process.

News Release: ACEL recognizes National FFA Week

The Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) at The Ohio State University recognizes this week, February 16-23, 2019, as National FFA Week. This celebratory week was founded in 1947 and embraces more than 91 years of FFA traditions. Nationwide, nearly 670,000 FFA members will participating in activities at local, state and national levels. These members have a passion for agriculture.

ACEL is connected to the National FFA Organization, as it one of three universities in Ohio to prepare undergraduate and graduate students to teach agricultural science in secondary high schools and serve as advisors of local FFA chapters.

“Ohio State has been connected to the FFA since its founding in 1928, and in particular with the Ohio FFA Association as the state association was founded February 7-8, 1929 at University Hall on our campus,” said Dr. Tracy Kitchel, professor of agricultural education and chair of ACEL. “We continue a strong partnership with Ohio FFA through many ways, including our most important role: preparing our students to become the best agricultural educators and FFA advisors once they leave our campus. As an FFA alum and now college instructor of future FFA advisors, this week annually reignites my passion for an organization that has built, is building and continues to build success for its members.”

Agricultural education programs prepare students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices in the global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources systems. Agricultural education instruction is delivered through three major components: classroom/laboratory instruction (contextual learning), Supervised Agricultural Experience programs (work-based, experiential learning) and student leadership development (National FFA Organization).

The agriscience education major at Ohio State provides students with a rigorous series of courses in technical agriculture, education psychology, instructional methods and youth development. Ohio State currently has approximately 100 students majoring in agriscience education. During the current Spring Semester, 15 students are completing the student teaching experience in classrooms around Ohio.

ACEL was founded in 1917, mere months after the passage of the Smith-Hughes Act that federally funded vocational agriculture programs (now known as agricultural education programs) across the country.


Pflaumer spends winter break with Buck-I-SERV

Olivia Pflaumer
agriscience education

Buck-I-SERV is The Ohio State University’s alternative break program, providing students across the campus opportunities to engage in weeklong community service and civic engagement programs around the United States and even abroad. I was selected to participate in a Buck-I-SERV program with nine other students, where we traveled to Pinellas County Florida to work with University of Florida’s IFAS Extension Sea Grant program. UF | IFAS’s mission is to provide research based knowledge and educational opportunities to enable people, and in particular we worked with this in the Pinellas County area.

Some of the main issues facing the Pinellas County area are related to marine debris, income inequality, and access to education. Libby Carnahan coordinated and provided educational information to participating students as we served at Weedon Island cleaning marine debris from Mangrove Islands and protecting wildlife. Mangroves are an essential piece of the ecosystem in this area and are threatened by pollution. On our second day we served at Fort Desoto, an area that has been losing resources and required a tremendous amount of assistance to revitalize the historical area. Moving away from the environmental efforts, we were also able to construct and execute lesson plans for the Lealman Asian and Family Neighbor Center. The students were able to engage and learn from us more about the ecosystem and habitats that surround them in the Pinellas County area. On our last full day in Florida, a downpour prevented us from completing our original plans of another environmental clean-up and therefore led us to serve time at a local food bank in the Lealman area and also provide labor for one of the Tampa Bay area’s Habitat for Humanity Restore Centers.

The opportunity to engage with students from different backgrounds and hear about their understanding of the environmental and social issues faced in Pinellas County was extremely valuable, along with the valuable accounts from the people we were working with in the area. While it was only a week long, the impacts we were working to make were extremely gratifying in a sense that we could see a direct change especially when cleaning areas from debris. I would encourage any student that is interested in community service to take this opportunity. The opportunities and experiences I have gained from Buck-I-SERV has empowered me and others to bring what we learned back to the Columbus community and have a meaningful impact through our organizations on and off campus.


Pflaumer (left) teaching students in Pinellas County.


Cleaning up marine debris.


Pflaumer (left) with other students.


ACEL Students named to Autumn Semester Dean’s List

During Autumn Semester 2018, 81 students from the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership were named to the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Dean’s List.

Congratulations to these students for their outstanding work in the classroom.

Agricultural Communication
Madeline Bauer
Amber Bergman
Alexis Elliott
Keri Felumlee*
Hanna Fosbrink
Joanna Frankenberg
Courtney Fulton
Christina Gaerke
Paige Hamrick
Jane Hulse*
Mary Jenkins
Kathaleen Kuhn
Kasey Miller
Mariah Morris
Emma Newell
Meredith Oglesby
Bailey Pees*
Makayla Petersen
Haley Plahuta
Louisa Pullins
Eva Scott
Sydney Snider
Maria Stavridis
Zachary Steiner
Linnea Stephens
Marlee Stollar
Kamala Sweeney
Kalyn Swihart
Maura Waitkus
Meghann Winters
Jessica Woodworth
Kiersten Wright

Agriscience Education
Gabrielle Adair
Jenna Alfman
Ellen Andres
Megan Bergman
Maryellen Bliss
Makayla Eggleton
Kristen Eisenhauer
Troy Elwer
Kayla Erickson
Katie Fath
Mitchel Gehret*
Caleb Hickman*
Alexis Howell*
Wyatt Jones*
Alaina Kessler
Klayton Kilzer
Samantha Kline
Elizabeth Landis
Madison Layman
Taylor Lutz
Cody McClain*
Josie McDowell
Summer McLain
Micah Mensing*
Chloe Metcalf
Abigale Motter*
Devon Mullen
Julia Naus
Taylor Orr
Milan Pozderac
Ellyse Shafer*
Sydney Stinson
Claire Vilagi
Kayla Walls*
Barbie Warthman
Brittany Weller
Chloe Wilson*
Emily Wilson
Haley Wilson

Community Leadership
Madison Allman
Trenton Baldwin
Melanie Fuhrmann*
Courtney Hovest
Allyson Irwin*
Emma Johnson
Sarah Longo*
Allyson McCurdy
Amelia Michaels
Emily Paulsen
Kayla Ritter*
Rachel Stoneburner*

* indicates a 4.0 GPA

Intern Spotlight: Cassady Interns with Wren Farm Events as Event Manager

Hailie Cassady
agricultural communication

My name is Hailie Cassady and I am a senior studying agricultural communication, and I have been interning with Wren Farm Events in Mechanicsburg, Ohio as an event manager/coordinator since April.

Wren Farm is an event venue located 35 minutes from Columbus and 45 minutes from Dayton. The venue primarily hosts weddings but can accommodate functions such as high school proms, homecomings, dinner parties, showers, etc. This wedding season (late April through early November) we had 26 weddings booked and at this point we have 21 of those completed.

The facility is a two story, historic barn that was formerly used to house livestock such as dairy cattle, hogs and sheep. The hay mound was converted into the reception area and the downstairs features the original feed troughs which is where buffet style meals are set up.

Being an event manager, I have been involved in multiple weddings and have worked with a lot of different people. I am involved in the touring and booking process, taking deposits and payments, preparing contracts, sending out vendor forms to upcoming brides to get their vendor information and how they want their space set up, setting up tables and chairs prior to couples arriving to decorate and then assisting with decorating inside and outside of the barn, setting up ceremony seating, helping with food, drinks and trash and any other last minute things that the couple may need.

I have really enjoyed working with all of the different couples and seeing the barn set up in so many different ways. Wedding planning and coordinating is a lot more demanding than I expected when I first started but it is fun to be busy and on your feet, making the couple’s special day everything that they expected! I love that I get to be involved in the entire process and work alongside different people all the time. Every weekend is something completely different and I like that aspect of it.

Cassady, agricultural communication


Wren Farm Events

ACEL alum John Feisley turns 100


Kristen Reymann, assistant director of leadership annual giving with the Ohio State Alumni Association, recently visited agricultural education alum John Feisley in honor of his 100th birthday. Feisley graduated in 1941 with a bachelor of science in agricultural education. Reymann shares about her visit with him below!

I recently had the pleasure of executing a special mission from the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences. Claire Badger and Kyle Sebastian reached out to me with a plan to deliver a very special 100th birthday present to a 1941 OSU agricultural education alumnus in eastern Ohio. Claire gave me the package, I made a phone call, and I was off to Saint Clairsville the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

When I arrived at John Feisley’s house, I was greeted with a big smile and was immediately welcomed inside. I presented the gift and gave him kind words from the college as he opened his new goody bag. I don’t think the smile left John’s face the whole hour that I was there. He enjoyed the OSU hat and shirt, and intently read the pamphlet from CFAES as he opened up his birthday card from Dean Kress. I informed him the coin that he received from her is rarely handed out and he giggled as he held it in his hands. He also received a personally addressed video from the Chair of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) which is where John’s major is housed. This department just celebrated their 100th birthday last year. What a happy coincidence!

John’s happy personality was contagious as we talked about Ohio State memories and shared stories about campus. I asked him what his favorite memory was from OSU and after a short pause he quickly said “well the football games of course”. He still remembers the first game he ever went to. His sister had bought him a ticket to the OSU vs. TCU game and even though the Buckeyes lost that day, he still enjoyed his time in The Shoe. “They beat us. But then we went down to the field and tore the poles down. You would think we only did that when we won!” John still watches every game to this day.

John grew up with two brothers and one sister in Clarington on the Ohio River where his father was a dairy farmer. His grandfather came to the United States from Switzerland when he was 12, and John remembers life back in the day when a horse and buggy was the main way of transportation. He recalls the change from this to gravel roads and cars during the winter, and laughs thinking about how muddy it used to be.

John received a scholarship while he was at Ohio State which covered the full $200/quarter tuition. He says “it was kind of a quiet university at that time” with about 19,000 students. He remembers Dr. Ralph Bender, who assisted in the practice teaching program in Westerville high schools, although he completed his in Grove City with Mr. Ruble. He enjoyed attending basketball games with his friends and dance classes in the old Ohio Union. He and his classmates all donated $1 to help build stone walls near the university’s entrance on 15th avenue. He still remembers the library, University Hall, and Townsend, and just recently visited last summer.

I asked John about his wife Marian, who passed away 4 years ago. He told me they met at a movie theatre and even though she went to the University of Cincinnati, they were still Buckeyes. He chuckled as he told me about the times when they would go back and visit UC. “She couldn’t find anything and she was always disoriented”, he laughed.

John told me his daughter Anne, also an OSU alum (‘97), was coming from Columbus to spend time with him on Thanksgiving. He shared a few stories about his children and his Christmas Tree business before I packed up my things to head back to Columbus. We took some pictures together, said our goodbyes, and I left with a full heart and another great Buckeye memory. Happy 100th birthday John!


Happy Birthday John! We are so proud to have you as a member of our alumni family!

Internship Spotlight: Plahuta Completes Summer Internship 

Haley Plahuta
agricultural communication

Throughout the last spring, I had the pleasure of helping put on the Ohio Farm to Cafeteria Pre-Conference and the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference. This opportunity came about after I saw an advertisement for the conference in a flyer.

The national conference is put on by the National Farm to School Network, an information, advocacy and networking hub that serves communities by using local food, school gardens and food and agricultural education in schools and early care settings. With my major being agricultural communications and working towards minors in youth development and Spanish, farm to school combined both of my interests. I found out that they were not only interested in having a volunteer, but would be willing to help me count the experience towards an Ohio State internship credit. This was in January and over the next four months, I worked as a Farm to School Communications Intern out of Campbell Hall to help promote the conference to people across Ohio.

The National Farm to Cafeteria Conference was planned for Cincinnati in May. Carol Smathers, OSU Extension specialist and the Ohio Farm to School Program Coordinator and Amy Fovargue, OSU Extension, were responsible for an Ohio-focused pre-conference. Most of my work involved promoting the pre-conference, which included an Ohio producer showcase with tables from companies like DNO Produce, Peaceful Fruits and Cincy Beef. There was also a panel of speakers from the local food industry and round tables for guests to discuss issues and topics surrounding local food.

While promoting the pre-conference, I learned a lot about event planning and especially the importance of staying organized. I used various tactics to help promote the conference as well as excel sheets to keep track of all email lists and publications that highlighted the event. I promoted the pre-conference through mass emails, press releases and Facebook. I found Facebook to be especially helpful. I had not previously experienced using Facebook to set up an event page and learned some of the benefits and challenges of this media platform.

I also worked with Ohio State’s Office of Trademark and Licensing Services to ensure that our branding was compliant with the University’s brand on the Farm to School website, flyers and post cards. I helped update the Farm to School website, created a monthly flyer that contained information about the upcoming conference. For these flyers, I used the approved OSU templates. I also developed postcards to hand out to promote the pre-conference. Working on the website, flyers and postcards provided a valuable learning experience. I also had to build in time to receive feedback and edits for the branding to be approved. This taught me to build in extra time when working with others.

Throughout this internship, I learned more than I could have imagined about event planning. This experience was especially unique because of the event being a pre-conference with a national conference happening the following day. I feel that the work I did helped prepare me for a job that includes event planning and creating promotional materials such as postcards, flyers, press releases and a website.

Table decorations for the conference that Plahuta made.


Plahuta (left) with Amy Fovargue (middle), and Michaela Graham (right), another intern who helped with the conference.

News Release: Wilson completes internship with Ohio Farm Bureau


Haley Wilson, of New Lexington, completed an internship this past summer with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation in Columbus, Ohio.

During her internship, Wilson served as a lead intern, coordinating Ohio Farm Bureau’s Land and Living Exhibit at the Ohio State Fair. This football-field sized interactive display was for visitors of the Fair to learn about the industries of agriculture and natural resources. She also hired, trained and managed a team of 25-30 young people that served as ambassadors throughout the fair and managed social media for the exhibit.

To learn about large-scale exhibits, as part of her internship Wilson traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, Indianaipolis, Indiana and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida to veiw and interact with a variety of agricultural exhibits with the goal of gaining ideas for Ohio Farm Bureau’s exhibit at the Ohio State Fair.

Wilson is completing a bachelor of science degree in agriscience education at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. She plans to graduate in May 2020.

The agriscience education major at Ohio State prepares students to teach agricultural science in secondary high schools. Our program provides students with a rigorous series of courses in technical agriculture, education psychology, instructional methods and youth development. To learn more about the agriscience education major, visit or call 614-247-6358.


News Release: Motter completes internship with the Ohio State Fair


Abby Motter, of Ashland, recently completed an internship with the Ohio State Fair as a public relations and marketing intern in Columbus, Ohio.

During her internship, Motter wrote news releases, contributed to social media content and worked to set up live broadcasts. During the Ohio State Fair, Motter served as the key contact to radio and television stations regarding their promotions and remote broadcasts at the fairgrounds. She participated in crisis Communication training and worked behind the scenes to ensure a successful 2018 Ohio State Fair.

Motter returned to Columbus in August where she is completing a bachelor of science degree in agriscience education. She plans to graduate in May 2019.

The agriscience education major at Ohio State prepares students to teach agricultural science in secondary high schools. Our program provides students with a rigorous series of courses in technical agriculture, education psychology, instructional methods and youth development. To learn more about the agriscience education major, visit or call 614-247-6358.