Dr. Susie Whittington is a three-time graduate of our department. She currently serves as the director for the University’s Second-Year Transformational Experience program and is a professor of agriscience education.
She graduated from Ohio State in 1982 with her bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and went on to receive her master’s and PhD in agricultural education in 1988 and 1991, respectively.
[ACEL]: Why did you choose to major in agricultural education?
[Whittington]: I came to Ohio State knowing I was planning to be a high school agricultural science teacher. At that time, all students entered Ohio State through UVC (University College), and were not to enroll in a major for several quarters. To enter a major, students had to meet with the undergraduate coordinator in the major; for agricultural education, that was Dr. L.H. Newcomb. I nervously met with him my first quarter, received the typical “drilling” about why I wanted to become an agricultural science teacher, was enrolled in the major that day, and was hired by him that day to be a work-study student for Dr. Jim Knight.
Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
For a rural Ohio kid at that time, there was no other place to consider! However, I never planned to go to college. As a high school agricultural science student, one of my agricultural science teachers brought me to campus. He told me I needed to be a high school agricultural science teacher and I needed to go to Ohio State. As a first-generation college student, my agricultural science teacher was a pseudo-parent in the college conversation. He showed me how to navigate the necessary college entry processes.
How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
My education at The Ohio State University prepared me to have the confidence I needed to be a 23 year old, accepting the opportunity to re-open a high school agricultural science program that had been closed.
What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
As an Ohio State student, I embraced everything the college and department had to offer! I worked for the department as a work-study student for three years and I worked for Extension my senior year both before and after student teaching. I was fortunate to serve as president of the Agricultural Education Society, secretary of the CFAES Student Council (CAHENR at the time!), Little I Queen in Saddle and Sirloin Club, and a Little Sis in Alpha Zeta Fraternity (now FarmHouse).
What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
I enjoyed the entire curriculum that was required to complete an agricultural education degree and to acquire an Ohio teaching license. From my educational psychology classes to my animal nutrition class, I appreciated the knowledge the classes were providing in preparation for my career objective. I most loved, however, EVERY class in the Department of Agricultural Education and the professors who taught them: Dr. Newcomb, Dr. Knight, Dr. Hedges, Dr. Henderson, Dr. Starling, Dr. Boucher, Dr. Rossetti and Dr. Ray Miller were highly influential. In addition, during my MS and PhD courses in the department, I was influenced by Dr. Warmbrod, Dr. Barrick, Dr. Blannie Bowen, Dr. Budke, Dr. McCracken, Dr. Larry Miller, Dr. Paulson, Dr. VanTilburg-Norland, Dr. Agunga, Dr. Gliem and Dr. McCaslin. The graduate assistants, at that time, and forever in this department, play a significant role in the preparation of our students…that was very true for me. Of course, given that my favorite class I teach today is Methods of Teaching, it is no surprise that my all-time favorite class was Methods of Teaching with Dr. Newcomb.
Did a faculty member have a specific impact on your time at Ohio State?
As stated in a previous question, I am professionally a genetic make-up of every professor, graduate assistant, and staff member in this department from 1978 to today. However, I believe that most of us who have earned a PhD might say that our major professor influenced our thinking for a life-time; my major professor was Dr. Newcomb.
What is your favorite Ohio State memory?
Outside of room 246 Ag Admin, Dr. Knight introduced me to Pat Whittington. The rest is history!
What was your first job following your undergraduate education?
I was the high school agricultural science teacher at Wellington High School in Loraine County.
For what schools, companies and/or organizations have you worked throughout your career and what were your responsibilities in those positions?
Wellington High School
The University of Idaho
The Pennsylvania State University
The Ohio State University.
Share the honors and awards you have been presented during your career.
National Award for Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences, from The United States Department of Agriculture, and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities
Teaching Excellence Award, from the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture
Outstanding Student Organization Advisor Award, from The Ohio Union and The Office of Student Affairs, The Ohio State University
Josephine Sitterle Failer Award, for outstanding service to Ohio State students, from The Ohio State University Alumni Association
Academy of Fellows, from the American Association for Agricultural Education
Teacher Fellow, from the North American Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture
Distinguished Researcher Award, from the American Association for Agricultural Education
Author of the Year Award, from the Journal of Agricultural Education
As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
It is hard to write into words the capstone of emotions that are felt each time I experience the incredible opportunity to hood a new PhD at The Ohio State University commencement ceremonies.
What advice would you give to a current student?
Embrace engagement in at least one opportunity in each of the following: your department, your college, your university, and the City of Columbus.
What did ACEL cultivate in you?
ACEL cultivated in me a passion for assisting students in achieving their career objective.
Agricultural Education Society with John Mount and University President E. Gordon Gee during the 125th anniversary of the organization.
Dr. Whittington with Dr. LH Newcomb.
Dr. Whittington’s office in the former 208 suite of Agricultural Administration.
The Whittington Family and Archie Griffin.