CFAES Alumni Award: Dr. Bryan Garton

Dr. Bryan Garton
2019 CFAES Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. Bryan Garton is currently associate dean of academic programs in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) at the University of Missouri (MU). Dr. Garton’s academic roots extend to the Department of Agricultural Education and Leadership at MU, where he served the ranks of Assistant, Associate and Full Professor. He has received prestigious awards including induction as an AAAE Fellow, Kemper Teaching Fellow, and many research journal article and conference paper awards.

Dr. Garton has been recognized in numerous ways at the University of Missouri for his teaching excellence at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Within the profession, his recognition is continued as a teacher educator and researcher. His reputation for mentoring graduate students is well-documented by the number of students whose career successes as university professors include leadership titles such as Assistant Dean, Department Chair, Teaching Center Co-Directors and Provost Faculty Fellow from universities across the country.

Dr. Garton is proud to be an Ohio State graduate and in particular, a graduate of this college and our department. He credits his experiences at Ohio State for preparing him for success as a teacher and researcher.


Congratulations Dr. Garton on your success as an agricultural educator and your recognition as an outstanding alum of CFAES!

Cora Carter defends thesis, earns M.S.

Congratulations to Cora Carter on the successful defense of her thesis, “Exploring safety and health concerns with urban and peri-urban livestock production in the city of Managua, Nicaragua.”

Her advisor was Dr. Dee Jepsen and Dr. Mary Rodriguez served as a committee member. Congratulations Cora!

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Kelly Newlon on the successful defense of her dissertation, “Cultural Competency of Short Term Education Abroad Student Participants.”

Dr. Newlon completed her dissertation under the advisement of Dr. Emily Buck. Her committee members were Dr. Jeff King, Dr. Bob Birkenholz and Dr. Jennifer Schlueter. Congratulations Kelly!!

Congratulations to Dr. Siti Abdul Latir

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Siti Abdul Latir on the successful defense of her dissertation, “Teachers’ Perceptions and a Researcher’s Observations toward Implementing Inquiry-Based Instructional Approaches.”

Dr. Abdul Latir completed her dissertation under the advisement of Dr. Susie Whittington, who is pictured with Dr. Abdul Latir. Dr. Scott Scheer, Dr. Caryn Filson, Dr. Christopher Zirkle and Dr. Hamish Lugard Fraser served as committee members

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Jack Elliot ’88 Ph.D.

Dr. Jack Elliot received his Ph.D. from Ohio State in 1988. Following faculty positions at Michigan State University and the University of Arizona, Elliot is now a professor and endowed chair for International Agricultural and Extension Education at Texas A&M University.

[ACEL]: Hello Dr. Elliot! Why did you decide to get a doctoral degree in agricultural education?
[Elliot]: During my high school agricultural education teaching career, I experienced some very memorable and exciting interactions with students, administrators, and community members. My wife and I decided to further my education with a Ph.D. in agricultural education so I could work with others to improve the profession at every level, junior high, senior high, and postsecondary.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
My wife and I attended the National FFA Convention in 1985 and visited many of the university booths at the career show. When we asked for a list of the top three graduate programs, The Ohio State University was the only university on everyone’s list.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career?
I admired the Ohio State faculty because of their professionalism and involvement within field. They served as my role models during my entire career.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
I was inducted within the Gamma Sigma Delta, International Honor Society of Agriculture. During my final year at Ohio State, I was president of the Agricultural Education Graduate Student Organization.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
Dr. Dave McCracken taught one of the “research series” courses and I enjoyed his teaching style, the way he assessed student knowledge, and his humor.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education and career?
In addition to Dr. McCracken, most of the faculty had positive impacts on my career. However, I did have a difficult time one spring, a medical situation. Dr. L.H. Newcomb provided some gentle support and guidance. I always remembered his sincerity and concern and have tried to emulate that attribute in my career.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
Our family visited many of the presidential sites within the state. We love history and wanted to create memories for our children who were 4 and 9 when we arrived in Columbus.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
There were very few tenure track positions in 1988 when I graduated. A one-year visiting assistant professor position at Michigan State University was available and they hired me. I was able to stay for four years because other opportunities presented themselves which provided funding so I could stay.

For what schools have you worked throughout your career?
After Michigan State, I had a 17 year career at the University of Arizona where I moved through the ranks to professor and became the department chair the final three years before I moved to Texas A&M.

Share with us any awards or honors you have received throughout your career.
2004 Outstanding Post Secondary CTE Educator (Region V), Association for Career and Technical Education
2010 Senior Scientist, Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University
2011 Distinguished Service, Association for Career and Technical Education Research
2012 Senior Fellow, American Association for Agricultural Education
2012 Senior Fellow, Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education
2014 Outstanding Agricultural Educator, American Association for Agricultural Education
2016 Distinguished Alumni of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, The Ohio State University
2018 Endowed Chair, International Agricultural and Extension Education, Texas A&M University

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
I love watching former students succeed. For example, Samantha Alvis recently completed her Ph.D. and is now the Higher Education Officer at USAID.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Dr. Newcomb told me that 95% of what you will face after you leave Ohio State will not be covered by the courses you completed, but the 5% will provide the foundation so you can address and handle almost any situation. That advice is still relevant today.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
The most important attribute is a sense of professionalism. Always take the higher ground and treat others as you would like to be treated.


Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Cheryl Ruey-Fen Bain ’00 PhD

Dr. Cheryl Ruey-Fen Bain graduated with a doctorate in agricultural education in 2000. Originally from Taiwan, Bain spent five years at Ohio State and then returned to her native country. She currently works as an associate professor in the Department of Leisure and Recreation Management and General Education at De-Yeah University.

[ACEL]: Hello Dr. Bain! Why did you select your graduate program and to attend Ohio State?
[Bain]: I graduated from National Taiwan University in 1990. I was working as a teaching assistant and met the ACEL graduate chair, Dr. Larry Miller, when he visited National Taiwan University during spring semester in 1994.  Dr. Miller recruited me to apply OSU.

I was also very lucky to have Rotary International 3-year Ambassador scholarship supported by D3460 (Taichung Taiwan) and hosted by D6690 (Columbus, Ohio).  

I knew many former Ohio State alumni, such as Dr. Liao Cheng-hong, Dr. Shaio, Kuen-shan, and Dr. Shin-Shin Chen, who recommend me the outstanding program of agricultural education. In addition, Ohio State was land-grand university with strong top 4-H program which attracted me when I worked for National 4-H Club Association of R.O.C.  The most important thing was Dr. John Mount, one of rotarians who was vice president at Ohio State, volunteer to be my consultant for 3-year ambassador scholarship.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
I took courses and participatde in 4-H Extension program to explore and empower my knowledge and capability under Dr. Larry Miller, Dr. Wesley Budke, Dr. Cathy Cox, and my mentor and Rotary International scholarship consultant, Dr. John Mount. Now, I am a Rotarian in D3462 since 2003, and advisor of 4-H Club at Da-Yeh University. 

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
I worked as a research assistant for Dr. Larry Brown on his water management project, then I also worked at CCME for more then two years before I attained my Ph.D.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State? What was your favorite and why?
The 995 statistics instructed by Dr. R. Warmboard who guided with practical exercises. I took 995 course syllabus to start my first very graduate course in Da-Yeh University as a popular course in 2000.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education and career?
There were so many great teachers, and staff who assisted my learning at OSU, if only one that I have to choose, I have to pick up Dr. John Mount who became my life mentor and role model.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
The summer 4-H leadership camp as counselor as well as 4-H dormitory supervisor under the instruction of Dr. John Mount and Dr. Cathy Cox at Camp Ohio and the Ohio State Fair. I was the first Asian student to work at camp and state fair to learn by doing with great pleasure.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
After I attained my Ph.D., I return to my home country, Taiwan, to be an assistant professor at the very first department of Leisure and Recreation management at Da-Yeh University in Taiwan. I brought my camping experience to teach and worked for international exchange program in many programs such as 4-H Exchange, Rotary Youth Exchange, and Group Study Exchange with more than 10 countries.

Share the positions you have held throughout your career.
I have been worked for National Taiwan University and Da-Yeh University in my academic career taking more than dozen of research projects on education, tourism, and recreation.

I also volunteer for many international exchange program, such as Rotary International in Youth Exchange, and Group Study Exchange.

During your career, have you received any awards or honors?
I have received as outstanding teaching faculty at Da-Yeh University for more than 5 times since 2009.

As a delegate of Group Study Exchange Program to D1570 in the Netherland in 2003 and became the first female leader of Rotary International Group Study Exchange program with D7190 in 2009.

How are you involved in your community outside of your career?
I helps college students to apply to oversea study programs and there are more than 60 students that have visited South Korea and the United States.

I volunteer for many international exchange program, such as Rotary International in Youth Exchange and Group Study Exchange.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
The international exchange program that I achieved as the first female Rotary International Group Study Exchange leader in Taiwan.

There are more than 60 colleges under my instruction to take camp internships in the United States.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Just do it, God will reward us with His best!

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
ACEL empowered and enriched my informal education experience such as 4-H leadership camp, state fair working experience.  I have been very lucky to enroll OSU to change my life, I cherish and pride to be part of members of ACEL family.



Alumni Spotlight: Rose Smith, ’06

[ACEL]: Hi Rose! Why did you choose to major in agricultural education?
[Smith]: I knew I wanted to be involved in informal agricultural education, educating the general public about where their food comes from. I didn’t know if that meant working in the United States or overseas, but I did know that majoring in agricultural education would prepare me best for my future career.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
It’s the best! My high school guidance counselor encouraged me attend Ohio State knowing I wanted to teach agriculture, but not necessarily in the classroom. I attended classes at OSU-Lima for the first two years of my education, as they were offering evening classes locally in Bellefontaine. This was perfect as it allowed me to work full time during the day and attend small classes in the evening. Once it was time to focus on my major, it was an easy transition to main campus.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
My education at Ohio State opened my eyes to what a huge need there is for educating consumers on the food supply and food systems. I have worked in the organic industry for over six years now and the desire for people to know how their food is raised is higher now than ever before.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
My favorite job was working at the RPAC. It had just opened when I began working there. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet such a diverse group of students and I still run into my former boss on a regular basis, mainly when tailgating before football games!

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State? 
I really enjoyed the “Block” set up, spending large chunks of time with some of my closest college friends, knowing we were all working on the same thing was interesting.

Some of my other favorite classroom memories happened because my brother and I had the same major, and he was only a few quarters ahead of me, so occasionally we would have classes together. Those classes were always more challenging because we were fairly competitive with each other on anything where there could be the slightest bit of competition, so I would always try a little harder in those classes. He would also make me buy the book, saying we would “share it”… I never saw those books again.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education/career? 
There are a few that stand out, but Dr. Susie Whittington probably made the largest impact on me. She has a super power of knowing the special skills of each student and where they would fit best once leaving college. She has the great ability of encouraging students just when they need it most and nudging them in the right direction. She was a big part of me getting my first job after college. Just recently, I was visiting with her at a wedding, discussing women doing jobs that historically were held my men. Though I already knew it, it was an amazing reminder of what a trail blazer she is, leading the way for woman to teach agriculture in a variety of formats.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
What a hard question! There are so many, but one that is coming to mind is the 2002 Ohio State vs. Michigan Game. The game was obviously amazing and unbelievable. Digital cameras weren’t in full swing yet, and everyone was still using film cameras. I remember walking to the CVS on the corner of High and Lane to drop my film off the next day and there was a pile of film several feet tall that had been turned in to be developed. The girl behind the counter looked at me, with this look of panic on her face and firmly said, “It’s going to be a longer than an hour”. It was just the reminder of what a historic this had happened the day before. It was exciting being a part of it.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
I worked as an Outreach Educator at COSI. I traveled to elementary schools putting on an assembly of a specific topic, then spent the rest of the day working with smaller classes doing hands on science experiments. The most valuable thing I got from working there was a strong ability to be independent. It was me and a box truck full of science equipment traveling all over Ohio and the surrounding states. Plus, who wouldn’t love a job where it was normal to shoot off a rocket any given day?

For what schools, companies and/or organizations have you worked throughout your career?
After COSI, I worked for just about a year at FFA Camp Muskingum. A job opportunity became available working in the organic industry in Bellefontaine, so I moved back home. I worked for two different organic certification agencies, Global Organic Alliance and Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, before landing what has become my dream job at Organic Valley. As a regional pool manager, I work with a dairy farmers that are currently organic and shipping milk with Organic Valley, as well as the farmers that are in transition to organic production. Organic Valley is a farmer-owned cooperative, and it is an honor to work with organic farmers who are working hard to keep their families farming by producing organic products.

During your career, have you received any awards or honors? 
It isn’t an official award or honor, but I am the first female regional pool manager that works remotely for Organic Valley. Since I was hired there have been three additional women hired. There was a lot of discussion on how farmers would handle having a woman as their manager, but it has turned out just fine. I had been working at Organic Valley for about a month when I stopped at a farm to take a farmer out to lunch. While we were eating he said, “You know this is no job for a woman”. I had no idea how to respond. Since then, I have formed a great relationship with him and he has actually told me, “They hired the right woman for this job”, which is a huge complement.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
I love being able to offer farmers a market for their milk. I remember one spring day about two years ago, when I was going through the contract we complete with farmers when they join the co-op. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day, so we sat at the picnic table in his yard and completed the paperwork. I will never forget the happiness the farmer was showing, as this meant he could be a full time farmer and no longer needed to work at his factory job. Though there are really tough parts of this job, it is always a highlight when I get to offer a contact to a farmer!

What advice would you give to a current student?
Pay attention in class! There have been so many times that I need to do something in my current career, and I remember vaguely some teacher talking about this sometime in college, but I wasn’t really paying close attention. My life would be a lot easier now if I wasn’t going back to relearn all of those things. A perfect example, I remember mildly paying attention when we learned about calculating dry matter in a feed ration, thinking I would never need to know how to do this. I calculate dry matter for farmers almost weekly now. I should have paid attention.

What did ACEL cultivate in you? 
My professors knew I had no intention of teaching in the classroom, but knew that the skills taught in the agricultural education major would be incredibly useful in informal education as well. This showed me that education isn’t a cookie cutter approach and that education is about life skills and not just grades on a paper.

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Barbara Kirby ’76, ’81 MS

Barbara Malpiedi Kirby is from Shadyside, Ohio and currently lives in Garner, North Carolina. She graduated with her bachelors degree in Environmental Education and her masters degree in Agricultural Education. She is currently at North Carolina State University, Professor of Agricultural and Extension Education.

[ACEL]: Hello Dr. Kirby! Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
My father, aunt and one cousin graduated from The Ohio State University. My dad had season football tickets. Needless to say, my brother and I started at a very young age cheering the Buckeyes in the Shoe for many years. Everything about the university and Columbus intrigued me. I could not imagine going to school at any other university. Only three students from my high school graduating class began college careers at Ohio State. The university felt like home to me even though it was so big.

Why did you select your major or graduate program?
I grew up in a small town in southeastern Ohio, Shadyside, OH. My grandfather had a small family farm and loved hunting and fishing. He inspired my passion for agriculture and natural resources. While the livelihood of family members and friends depended on the success of the coal mines, steel mills and power plants along the Ohio River, the degradation of the environment saddened me. I attended The Ohio State University and majored in natural resources for my B.S. degree. My internship at Oglebay Park Nature Center in Wheeling, WV was a turning point for me. I loved teaching all age groups at the Center and decided to obtain my natural resources teaching license through agricultural education. The agricultural education faculty members were passionate educators and motivated me to complete my master’s degree while I was teaching.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
When I came to Ohio State, teaching was not one of my career aspirations. Drs. Newcomb, Knight and Barrick taught the intro course, teaching methods and agricultural education program courses Dr. Jim Knight, with his ton of positive vibes, supervised my student teaching. Their enthusiasm and passion for teaching was contagious and launched me into a teaching career. After graduation, I taught high school natural resources/environmental sciences at the Ashland County – West Holmes JVS in Ashland, Ohio. My greatest joy was managing our 80-acre teaching land laboratory. Although I loved teaching high school students and managing the land laboratory, my real passion was mentoring student teachers. I still remember the conversation with Kirby Barrick about the possibility of pursuing a doctorate.  My career path turned to higher education.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
Since my participation in the agricultural education program was late into my undergraduate program, I did not have much time to be involved as an undergraduate in ag student organizations. I was a member of the Student Ag Council and the Agricultural Education Society. The Fall Fest was a big event for us.  I was also a member of Zeta Tau Alpha National Fraternity and served in several officer positions, including president and was a member of the Panhellenic Association Presidents’ Council.  As a graduate student, I was inducted into Gamma Sigma Delta.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
My favorite classes were the environmental education and agricultural education major courses. I enjoyed the park and recreation planning and programming courses. The projects were a lot of fun and enabled me to use my creativity. Jim Knight taught my Intro to Agricultural Education class. Witnessing the personal interest Dr. Knight took in each of his students has resonated with me throughout my career. I have always tried to acknowledge the uniqueness and importance of each student, especially as part of a large university. My ag ed courses prepared me to teach. I was not in a high school vocational ag program or a member of the FFA. Drs. Newcomb, Barrick and Hedges engaged us in the classes and afforded opportunities to apply and practice the competencies essential for classroom and laboratory success. Dr. Joe Gleim’s ag mechanics class was on of my favorite graduate classes. Relieved that I survived Dr. Larry Miller’s research course, the project driven ag mechanics course was a nice way to spend a summer. L.H can tell the rest of the story about the notorious patio our class built that summer.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education? 
I shared early how many of the faculty members impacted my education and career. However, Dr. L.H. Newcomb was probably the most influential. I appreciated his candor, patience and humor. L.H. assisted me with my licensure program and served as my graduate advisor. He along with many others provided much need guidance for an undergraduate who was not always on track and motivation for a grad student managing a full-time teaching job and evening graduate classes. I am also grateful that Dr. Newcomb decided to take a yearlong administrative internship in the dean’s office. Dr. Warmbrod invited me to join the staff that year as a post-doc lecturer. The experience solidified my goal of pursuing a permanent faculty position in higher education. 

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
I have so many wonderful memories. I made great friends in the College of Agriculture and developed lifelong friendships through Zeta Tau Alpha. The memories are special because of the friends who were there in the 70’s still sustain me today.  We are loyal, fanatic Buckeye fans. We loved the football games and now the opportunity to get together. As undergrads, it didn’t matter if we had to sit in Block O or in the rain or snow. A trip to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA -was more than a girl from Shadyside could fathom. We had a great time. “How firm thy friendship, O-HI-O.”

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
Teaching students enrolled in the Natural Resources and Environmental Science program at Ashland County-West Holmes JVS in Ashland, OH was my first teaching position. Our FFA included the students in Ag Mechanic classes. I enjoyed teaching in a two-teacher department.

For what schools, companies and/or organizations have you worked throughout your career and what were your responsibilities in those positions?
Following my teaching position at ACWH JVS, I was a graduate assistant at Virginia Tech where I earned my doctorate degree. I taught undergraduate ag ed courses and supervised student teachers. After graduate school, I worked as a lecturer with the Department of Agricultural Education faculty at The Ohio State University. What a thrill to be part of this extraordinary program and a member of its faculty. My first tenure track faculty position was at NC State University in 1985. As an assistant professor, I taught several different courses: computer/instructional technology, introduction to teaching, history and philosophy (Foundations), and mentoring. I advised undergraduates and graduate students.

After moving through the ranks and achieving the rank of full professor, I moved to college administration. As the assistant/ associate director of academic programs, my worked involved student recruitment, new student program, directing the honors program and working with faculty on various college programs like the outstanding teacher program and Educational and Technology Funding. In 2009, I became the director of the Agricultural Institute, a two year associate degree program. Directing the Institute was a wonderful experience. The students valued ”hands on learning” so that they were prepared to return to their farms and agribusiness jobs. Several continued their education and completed BS degrees.

My last administrative position at NC State was associate vice provost for academic programs and services, a newly organized unit in the University Division of Academic and Student Affairs (DASA) at NC State University. DASA was a unique organization that integrated curricular and co- curricular components to improve the academic performance of our students and the quality of academic and non-academic experiences at NC State University. Major responsibilities included: 
Leadership and specific administrative oversight for the overall University processing of courses and curricula and the General Education Program; Oversight of the First Year Inquiry program courses and faculty development; administrative management of the Environmental Science interdisciplinary degree program and the EcoVillage, Living and Learning Community.

After 18 years in administration, I returned to the faculty to resume my faculty role as a full professor.  I am now teaching, advising, and conducting research in the newly formed Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences.

During your career, what honors or awards have you been presented?
Some of my most meaningful awards included the Honorary State and National FFA Degrees; Outstanding Teacher of the College of Education and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; induction into the NC State University Academy of Outstanding Teachers; Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, NCSU Division of Undergraduate Academic Programs Award; NACTA Teacher Fellow; Food Systems Leadership Institute (FSLI) Fellow; and Senior Fellow in the American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE). I also received the Distinguished Teaching Award from the American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE), in the Southern Region. During graduate school, I was inducted into the following: Alpha Tau Alpha (National Honorary in Agricultural Education); Phi Delta Kappa (National Education Honorary); and Omicron Tau Theta (National Honorary in Vocational Education),

I was very honored to return to Virginia Tech to receive Virginia Tech’s Recognition of Generations of Women Teachers: Leader, Achiever, and Outstanding Alumna.

During my early career at NC State, I worked with the National Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity and local alumnae in the construction of a local ZTA chapter house near the campus. I was presented the North Carolina Alumnae Themis Award for contributions to a collegiate chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha and National Certificate of Merit for contributions to a collegiate chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
Wow. There are many. My teaching and administrative career spanned multiple levels of education: high school teacher, two-year associate degree program director, faculty member in a major land grant university engaged in undergraduate and graduate education and administration at the college and university levels. Certainly, earning my doctorate degree was a highlight. The experience humbled me and opened the door for a career in higher education spanning 33+ years. My education and training positioned me to help others. When I can mentor or help a Jr. faculty member or administrative colleague, that resonates with me as a career highlight. Any time I can help a student especially those who find themselves in challenging situations, that is a career highlight. I probably experienced several of those situations myself. Certainly, becoming an associate vice provost is a career highlight. More importantly, in that role, I was able to help a graduate student from Nigeria navigate the red tape and bureaucracy in order to resolve his admission issues and complete a master’s degree in agricultural and extension education. Celebrating his success at graduation with his family (who flew from Nigeria) and all who had been part of his NC State experience was certainly a career highlight.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Don’t ever under estimate yourself. Listen to the advice of your faculty. Make the most of every collegiate experience. That includes curricular and co-curricular experiences. In particular, study abroad, engage in service learning, seek challenging internships, network and build friendships. Everything you do positions you for the next level. Enjoy your time at the university and take charge of fulfilling your dreams.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
Being part of ACEL cultivated in me a passion for teaching, determination, perseverance, dedication and compassion. While I would attribute my acquiring many of these attributes to my upbringing, the faculty and fellow students in ACEL nurtured my desire to be a successful educator. Many people along the way have continued to cultivate and support even my craziest of idea and dreams.


Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Tracy Kitchel ’98, ’99 MS

Dr. Tracy Kitchel graduated from Ohio State with his undergraduate degree in agricultural education in 1998 and his masters in agricultural education in 1999. Shortly after graduation, he became an agricultural educator and FFA advisor for Archbold High School in Fulton County. These days, Kitchel is a professor and chair for the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education and Leadership (ACEL) at the Ohio State University.

[ACEL]: Why did you select your major or graduate program?
[Kitchel]: I started my undergraduate career as an agricultural communication major. I was drawn to that work because I had recently been elected as the State FFA Reporter, which, at the time, meant I was working with our magazine, Ohio FFA News. Throughout the year, however, I was drawn to working with FFA members and found it rewarding. The decision to change my major was solidified when I worked at the past state FFA officer session at Ohio FFA Camp; I knew I wanted to work with students.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
I’m not certain I thought of any other place. I knew I wanted to be in agriculture and I felt attending Ohio State was the clear choice. Even though I had been on campus for various reasons, I didn’t even do an official campus visit (something I don’t recommend, but it worked out for me).

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
I wouldn’t be on this path had it not been for Ohio State. In particular, it was with my advisor, Dr. Jamie Cano, who insisted I do a literature review as an undergraduate, which would lead to my master’s thesis the following year. He planted the seeds that I needed to get my Ph.D. and be a professor. He assigned a student teacher for me to serve as cooperating teacher because he felt that experience would be invaluable as a teacher educator (and it was). He connected me with one of his former Ph.D. students, Dr. Bryan Garton, which led to me studying at the University of Missouri for my Ph.D.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student (student organizations, honoraries, campus jobs, Greek life, etc.):
I was president, secretary and banquet co-chair of Agricultural Education Society, a member of Alpha Tau Zeta (now FarmHouse) fraternity, president of Phalanx (the college student organization that soon-after morphed into the CFAES Ambassadors), and served as co-chair and narrator of the College Recognition Banquet.  On campus, I worked as a Night Assistant in the Scott/Norton House Dorms and worked for the Ag Safety program in what is now FABE department. Off campus, I was an Ohio FFA intern, worked at Ohio FFA Camp two summers, and served as an office page for the Ohio Senate. I did my early field experience and student teaching both at Versailles High School with Dena Wuebker.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State? What was your favorite and why?
My favorite courses were my ag comm and ag ed classes. I still use what I learned from Dr. Paulson’s AGRCOMM 200 and 300 courses today.  My teacher preparation courses were great. I felt prepared as a teacher because of them. For the most part, there was a cohort of us that progressed through to student teaching. We laughed a great deal over the years. Our teaching labs were particularly comical, yet did a great job preparing us for the realities of teaching.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education?
As I shared before, Dr. Jamie Cano had the most impact on my career. I also appreciate the patience Dr. Jan Henderson afforded me, even when I didn’t always deserve said patience. It’s that kind of grace I’ve attempted to share with my own students even when said grace is not easy to give. I also appreciated how deeply intentional Dr. Hedges was in his teaching. That intentionality is something I always strive toward in my own teaching.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
I have so many great memories. I developed a great group of friends (time and change has surely shown…). We all bonded over football games – I still get emotional when I go to the games.  Again, we had great times as a student teaching cohort. I really enjoyed student organizations and be a part of campus.  I could go on and on.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
After graduating with my B.S. in ag ed, I started my M.S. in ag ed and was a graduate associate for AGRCOMM 390 (now 3130). After that, my first “out of college” job was as agriculture teacher and FFA advisor for Archbold High School in Fulton County (Ohio).

What positions have you held since graduating and where have you worked?
I moved around a bit over my 18 years after leaving Ohio State.  After being an ag teacher at Archbold High School. I was a graduate assistant and Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri. After graduating, my first faculty position was as an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky (UK).  I left UK after 5 years and became associate professor and director of graduate studies for the Department of Agricultural Education and Leadership at the University of Missouri (MU). At the end of my time at MU, I served as assistant vice provost for graduate and postdoctoral affairs where I served as the secondary leader for the Office of Graduate Studies (other places called the Graduate School). In particular, l was in charge of areas and programs such as campus fellowships, student-faculty issues, the campus TA training and development of our directors of graduate studies. In August 2016, I returned to Ohio State to be Professor and Chair of ACEL.

I’ve spent most of my career in higher education and in those professor roles, have taught courses from teaching methods, research methods and introduction to leadership. I’ve conducted research on pre-service and early career agriculture teachers. Finally, I provide service in working related to agricultural education, agriculture teachers and FFA.

Share any awards or honors you have received over the years
Some of my more meaningful awards include the USDA Excellence in Teaching Award (Early Career Award), North Central AAAE Distinguished Teacher and Distinguished Researcher Awards, Gold Chalk Award (University of Missouri) for excellence in graduate teaching, Joe T. Davis Outstanding Advisor (University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture), OAAE Outstanding Young Ag Teacher Award, Honorary American FFA Degree and CFAES Alumni Young Professional Award.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
In a truly authentic way, my favorite career highlight was the opportunity to return to my home department and serve as its chair.  Up there on the list, in a far less serious way, is having presided over the master’s degree ceremonies at the University of Missouri when I was Assistant Vice Provost. I have to admit – that was cool. (At Ohio State, we have one ceremony per term and the university president presides over all those ceremonies throughout the year – that’s not typical, by the way).

What advice would you give to a current student?
Don’t wait to be invited – find ways to take charge of your own career by getting involved and meeting people different than you.  Find ways to really become self-aware of who you are. I credit my experiences at Ohio State in helping me do that and it wasn’t always easy. Balance your out-of-class learning with your in-class learning (both are valuable). And study abroad – I really have only one major regret and that was it. I had to wait years into my career to travel internationally.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
My engagement with ACEL has cultivated so much in me and continues to do so now that I’ve returned home. The overarching theme is that ACEL cultivated my potential, even when I didn’t think I could do any better.  The surprising thing is that even as chair, I still feel like the department continues to push and invest in me even when I feel it’s my job to do that for others.

Kitchel’s family, following wife Laura’s graduation with her PhD from the University of Missouri.


Kitchel (second from right) at the CFAES Recognition Program in 1998 with other “Top 10 Seniors”.


Kitchel with advisor Dr. Jamie Cano.

Speaking at a CFAES event as chair of ACEL.

Alumni Spotlight: Callie Wells, ’10, ’12 MS

[ACEL]: Hi Callie! Why did you select your major?
[Wells]:I had a hard time narrowing down a specific area to focus on for a few years into my undergraduate education. I couldn’t make my mind up because I wanted to learn it all! I had five, maybe more, combinations of majors and minors. After taking courses in nearly every discipline CFAES teaches, I became fascinated with learning about how people interact, learn, and communicate with each other. The ACEL disciplines were the perfect fit to marry my interests and talents in social sciences with my passion for the agriculture industry. I added agricultural education as a second major, in addition to animal science, in my undergraduate program and focused on agricultural communication in my graduate program.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
Until halfway through my junior year of high school, I was sure I was going to Miami University, where my mom worked which provided me a full tuition waiver. Who’s going to pass up a full tuition waiver? Me, it turns out. I joined FFA my junior year and was involved in a lot of programs and CDE’s that provided me the opportunity to visit Ohio State. I was amazed at the vast opportunities at a university as large as Ohio State, but also at the tight knit community in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Once I knew Ohio State was the place for me I worked hard to earn a few scholarships to soften the blow to my parents when I decided not to use the tuition waiver. A free education might be nice, but I knew in my gut Ohio State was the best place for me, and it is the best decision I have ever made!

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
My education at Ohio State influenced my career path simply by giving me the best foundation of skills, experiences, and networks to build upon, and a passion to continue building it.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
I was involved in so many student orgs! Ag Ed Society, Norton/Scott Hall Council, CFAES Student Council, Undergraduate Student Government, University Senate, CFAES Ambassadors, CFAES Banquet co-chair, SPHINX Senior Honorary, and many more. The experiences I had with these organizations is just as valuable as the time I spent in the classroom.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State? Did you have a favorite?
I think my graduate school communication theory class was my favorite class during my time at Ohio State. Analyzing how various messaging impacts how individuals and groups think, act, and react… It’s hard to explain why, but it’s just an area I find endlessly fascinating.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education/career? How?
There are so many who had a bit impact on me, and it is hard to choose, so I think I have to go with the person who had the first influential impact, and that would be Kelly Newlon. Seeing her passion for her work made me want to take the time to really figure out what my passion was and I might not have taken the time to figure it had I not seen it in her. She also led a study abroad program to the Czech Republic the summer after my freshman year that changed my life. I had never traveled in the States, let alone abroad, and Kelly was the perfect person to teach us about new cultures and help us process what we were learning.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
One of my favorite memories is the day I was linked into SPHINX Senior Class Honorary. Each new class of Links is led by the current class on the long walk on the Oval while the Orton Hall Chimes play Carmen Ohio. It was a very special moment to reflect on how much I had experienced at Ohio State and how much was still to come.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
My first job was as communications specialist at Ohio Farm Bureau.

For what schools, companies and/or organizations have you worked throughout your career?
I worked at Ohio Farm Bureau for five years, as communications specialist first and then as director of digital communications. I then moved on to be the marketing and production lead at Herdmark Media for a short time, and now am the communications specialist for the Ohio Association of School Business Officials. I’m also building a small side gig do freelance writing, digital communications/marketing consulting, and video production mostly for farms, smalls ag businesses, and associations.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
I’m very proud to have started a few digital content strategies at Ohio Farm Bureau that give farmers a platform to tell their stories. Take Over Tuesday and Growing Our Generation were very simple ideas that have continued to grow long past my time running them, which I am very proud of.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Learn patience. Don’t rush things and take some time to get to know your talents and interests, while you are afforded the time to do so!

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
ACEL cultivated in me a passion for continual learning and community building.