Six ACEL Seniors named CFAES Outstanding Senior

Six students in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership were recognized at the annual CFAES Celebration of Students (formerly known as the CFAES Recognition Program) as Outstanding Seniors.

These seniors were selected through an application and interview process by CFAES faculty members.

The six students from ACEL selected include:

Megan Besancon, agricultural communication
Miranda Miser, agricultural communication
Leah Schwinn, agricultural communication
Jarred Shellhouse, agricultural communication
Mary Siekman, agricultural communication
Carley Snider, agriscience education

We wish you the best of luck as you leave Ohio State and continue your careers as communicators, educators and graduate students!

Dr. Tracy Kitchel, professor and department chair, poses with the six CFAES Outstanding Seniors from our department at a reception held prior to the program.

Another Step in My Journey in Agricultural Education

By: Cody McClain
Agriscience Education

We have all had the moments when we have no idea what we want to
do when we grow up. Do I want to be a teacher, loan officer, police officer,
lawyer, or I don’t know? I experienced one of these moments when I was
riding home in an old international school bus, which struggled to reach
55mph on interstates, from State FFA convention during my senior year in high
school. As my Ag teacher was driving the bus, I asked her a million questions
about her life as an agricultural educator. She expressed her joys and
discomforts of being in the profession. Like for many FFA members, their last
state convention as a student is memorable and life changing. The challenges
in calculus made me rethink my decision in a future in math education. It is
not uncommon for many students to change their major in college. After my
experience at my last convention and a great deal of consideration I made
this change this switch to Agriscience Education only a few weeks prior to

Throughout my college endeavors in Agriscience Education, I have had many
opportunities to explore the insights of the career. My Early Field
Experience (EFE) at Marysville High School was one of those opportunities
that provided me with the energy and motivation to continue pursuing my
passion in agricultural education. During my EFE, I had the opportunity to
collaborate and learn from three amazing agricultural instructors that
practice diverse and powerful leadership and teaching styles.

My experiences included teaching lessons in leadership, career building
skills, and agricultural safety. I acquired a variety of lessons in animal
sciences, agricultural mechanics, plant sciences, and much more. One of the
many experiences was the opportunity to expand my interest in agricultural
mechanics. In fact, this experience enhanced my desire to be a “shop
teacher” or in other words, teach topics in agricultural power, mechanical,
and technology systems. Every time I left my cooperating school, I felt more
inspired in being a future teacher of agriculture. The many early morning
drives to Marysville were very rewarding, in which, I received valuable
knowledge and skills that will help me be successful in an agriculture
classroom and FFA program. In the end, my experience created a vision for my
future career that I hope someday will blossom into reality.


Cody working with the students.


Cody working with machinery with the class.

Reflecting on Lessons Learned through 4-H

By: Dr. Tracy Kitchel
Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership Chair

As the youngest of four children, I could not wait to join 4-H like my siblings. Showing animals, completing projects, earning ribbons, and having your own t-shirt with a felt green 4-H clover on the back and your name on the front – who wouldn’t be excited?  I was an 11-year member of the Monroe Better Livestock 4-H Club in Preble County, Ohio and I can say without doubt that 4-H had a tremendous impact on my career success and life.

Dr. Kitchel was an 11 year 4-H member in Preble County.

In so many ways, I felt out of place through my elementary, middle and high school years. But, when I went to 4-H meetings or to the fair, those out-of-place feelings quickly dissipated. Through 4-H, I had the opportunity to demonstrate my life on a farm through showing animals. I also had the opportunity to explore my family and heritage through a genealogy project.  Beyond that, 4-H laid a foundation of hard work and character that are still present in my day-to-day life.

The first lesson 4-H taught me was hard work.  Growing up on a farm certainly contributed to that lesson, but with 4-H there was more.  In particular, I learned that what you put into something has a relationship to what you get out of it.  In most cases, I did better in showmanship the years I worked with my markets hogs more.  The more effort I spent on researching for my genealogy project, the more accolades I had earned for that project. But even further, I learned there were no shortcuts to hard work. As a good friend of mine says, “pay now or pay later.”  There were years where I may have spent many hours on my projects earlier in the summer, but not as much in the last month leading up to the fair. Instead of paying now and working hard through the entire summer, I paid later with an animal that wasn’t as prepared for the show as could it could have been.

The second lesson 4-H taught me was that life isn’t always fair and winning isn’t everything.  Although hard work and positive outcomes are linked, hard work does not always guarantee the outcome you want. I vividly remember a particular year in swine showmanship at the fair when I was about 14 years old. I had worked exceptionally hard that summer and was feeling good about my chances in winning showmanship.  My age group was large, so there were two or three classes before the final class where the age group winner would be selected.  The judge worked with me and my pig particularly hard (and in comparison to everyone else) and I remember how complementary the judge was over the microphone as I left the arena.  I returned for the final drive for my age group.  He had requested more people back than was in my first class.  Somehow, I ended up at the back of the line and literally walked in and out of the ring with my animal.  I barely had a chance to demonstrate my abilities and clearly the judge forgot about me.  It was reinforced to me that life isn’t always fair.  But I also learned that it was fine that I did not achieve the outcome I thought I deserved.  In the grand scheme of life, this one instance did not define me or my future successes.  The work, self-esteem and lessons learned are what you truly carry with you after the fair, not the ribbons, trophies or awards. I knew I had worked hard and I knew I had done well. That was the better award to have won that day.


Tracy Kitchel (middle right) 1993 Preble County Fair Royalty Court. He was the 1993 Preble County Fair King.

The third lesson 4-H taught me was being a part of something bigger is much better than focusing on only you and your goals. Later in my 4-H career, I joined the Junior Fair Board. In many ways, I became more excited about my work with the fair board than my individual 4-H projects. From developing a sense of ownership over the junior fair to working with my fellow board members, and from setting up stalls to running a livestock show, I found reward in accomplishing something that was bigger than me and something that was more than just me.  Being a part of something bigger also meant that winning became less important and putting on a great fair experience for others became more important. When I lifted others up, I myself was lifted, too.

I have carried these and many other lessons learned through 4-H throughout my life and career.  As my life continues to intersect with others outside my background, I continue to learn how fortunate I was to have 4-H in my life and the advantages I had from having participated in it!



ACEL students are new CFAES Ambassadors

Five ACEL students where selected to represent the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences as CFAES Ambassadors for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Students selected from ACEL are:

Brianna Gwirtz, a junior majoring in Agricultural Communication from Shelby, Ohio

Wyatt Jones, a sophomore majoring in Agriscience Education from South Salem, Ohio

Micah Mensing, a sophomore majoring in Agriscience Education from Oak Harbor, Ohio

Sydney Snider, a sophomore majoring in Agricultural Communication from Moscow, Ohio

Kayla Walls, a sophomore majoring in Agriscience Education from Mendon, Ohio

We look forward to seeing all of the work that each of you do as you represent CFAES! Congratulations and good luck!

A Little Bit of Everything Related to Ag Productions: ASE Guide to ASM

By: Christine Balint
agriscience education

I grew up in the agricultural education classroom and I felt pretty confident about the material my teacher was able to provide us. I learned how to make my own sawhorse, how to wire some electrical circuits, and I even learned how to weld two pieces of metal together! These are some things I could have never imagined learning in the classroom, and its part of the reason why I chose to major in agriscience education. If you really enjoyed this part of FFA and the ag classroom, then you are sure to love ASM 4300.

Dewey Mann is the kind professor who has taken on this huge course for the past couple of years. The course encompasses engineering and technology applications that are essential to the operation, selection, and management of the processes, machinery, structures, soil and water, and materials handling systems in agriculture. If you can’t believe this course covers all of those topics, you would be amazed at the activities and events Mr. Mann provides throughout the term of the course.

I never had the opportunity to use agricultural machinery in a field (as I did not come from a farm background) and in this course I drove combines, tractors, and other implements! I learned how to test soil for phosphorus and measure field yield efficiency. These skills are vital in the agricultural community and it’s important for an educator to understand the basics of production agriculture. When we didn’t spend our days visiting seed companies and talking with implement dealers, we would learn about the electrical circuits, small engines,  plumbing and fitting, you name it! This class has provided me a list of skills I can proudly demonstrate for my future students in the classroom. From concrete to land surveying, to welding and harvesting, ASM 4300 is a well-rounded course that incorporates numerous aspects of the agricultural industry you may not learn about in other courses or aspects of life. Not an agriscience education major? Fear not! This course is designed not just for agricultural educators and would definitely be a great class recommendation for students who are interested in production agriculture!

A special thanks to Dewey Mann for instilling these valuable skills into timid students who have a passion for agriculture.

Taking a little break during a lab to snap a photo with Rachel, a fellow agriscience education student.


I loved the experience of driving this machinery!

Grateful for women in FFA

By Dr. M. Susie Whittington
The Ohio State University

During National FFA Week, it is with gratefulness that I briefly reflect on an historical aspect of my high school FFA experience during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

As has been recorded in our FFA history, women were voted into membership in the FFA in 1969, so my agricultural science teachers in the early 1970s at Benjamin Logan High School in Zanesfield, Ohio, unlike many Vo-ag teachers of the time, were immediate adopters of the new membership policies…but, I never knew any of that at the time; I didn’t process the timeline, nor understand the political maneuvering of the membership vote, until many years later. What I now understand and appreciate, however, is that I had four male agricultural science teachers in the 1970s, who played no gender favorites, who expected the same quality productivity from every student no matter their gender, and who saw potential in me that I had not yet seen in myself.

I also now understand, because my life revolves on a daily basis around developing the best agricultural science teachers that The Ohio State University can prepare, that Mr. Bill Conklin, Mr. Jim Barnes, Mr. Harmon Conrad, and Mr. Paul Case, my agricultural science teachers, were well-educated in teaching methodologies, were excellent FFA advisors, and cared deeply about students.

My dad was a high school vocational agriculture student and FFA member at Rushsylvania High School in Ohio, under Mr. Ralph Bergman, a highly respected teacher, state-wide. I recall, my entire life, hearing my dad quote and reference Mr. Bergman with much pride, respect, and awe in his voice and in his actions. So, it was no surprise, when my oldest brother approached high school age, that my factory-worker father, would move our family to a small farm, so my brothers could be agriculture students and FFA members.

During the mid-to-late 1960s, when my older brothers’ Vo-ag teachers brought their FFA General Livestock judging team to our farm to practice their livestock selection skills, I remember thinking, “Judging seems really cool. I think I’ll do that when I’m an FFA member.” I had no idea that during those years, girls weren’t allowed to be FFA members, so I couldn’t have been a member of the FFA General Livestock judging team at that time. Nor had I processed, each year, when my dad and brothers brought home the program from the annual “FFA Father and Son Banquet”, that it was titled that because girls weren’t allowed to be FFA members. All I remember was pouring through that program and seeing awards like, “Star Greenhand” and “State Farmer Degree” and thinking, “I’m going to win those!”

Thankfully for me, in 1969, a vote, albeit fueled by government intervention, made it possible for me, and generations of women after me, to experience first-class leadership development through FFA. More importantly, to me, however, the vote opened the door necessary for women to pursue fulfilling careers as teachers of Agricultural Science Education. I, and thousands of women after me, are, indeed, grateful.


Two of Dr. Whittington's FFA advisors who were influential in her time as a member and beyond.

Two of Dr. Whittington’s FFA advisors who were influential in her time as a member and beyond.


Queen Susie and her FFA court.

Queen Susie and her FFA court.


Dr. Whittington, posing with the members of her FFA chapter, was one of a few females in her chapter.

Dr. Whittington, posing with the members of her FFA chapter, was one of a few females in her chapter.


Dr. Whittington receives recognition from then Ohio FFA State President Rob Hovis.

Dr. Whittington receives recognition from then Ohio FFA State President Rob Hovis.


Junior Susie Quay was named Chapter Sweetheart and is pictured with two honorary members.

Junior Susie Quay was named Chapter Sweetheart and is pictured with two honorary members.


Benjamin Logan FFA Chapter in 1975 (Dr. Whittington is in the front center.)

Benjamin Logan FFA Chapter in 1975 (Dr. Whittington is in the front center.)


Dr. Whittington’s (bottom right) first FFA chapter as an educator.



Dr. Susie Whittington, and her husband Dr. Pat Whittington, both turned their FFA blue and gold into Ohio State’s scarlet and gray.


Dr. Whittington now serves on an FFA alumni poster.



Call Me Miss Motter

By: Abby Motter
Agriscience Education

I remember the first morning I was going to visit North Union High School as part of my Early Field Experience in Agriscience Education. I was nervous on what to wear, traffic, a new place, and the 120 hours and multiple assignments that I had yet to accomplish. As my Keurig finished brewing my cup of coffee I grabbed my car keys and newly acquired “teacher’s bag” before heading to the infamous State Route 315 at promptly 6:10 am.

That first morning when I parked behind the Ag Shop and walked in the door a sense of familiarity washed over me. The sight of welding booths and FFA banners, the student projects sitting around the shop, and the faint playing of country music instantly made me feel at home. Soon after meeting Mr. Jolliff and Miss Breck Finch I knew I would enjoy my time there. Ag teachers have a special gift to make you feel at ease because they genuinely care about you both in and out of the classroom. From that day forward every early drive and every late night was fulfilling, rewarding and exciting, because on the other end of that trip was a chapter of students, and I had grown attached.

My cooperating educators were generous in giving me responsibility and firsthand experience. I had the opportunity to create and present lesson plans concerning professional development, parliamentary procedure, the FFA creed, and leadership. In addition, I was able to assist coaching and judging CDE teams, work one on one with students, and instruct classroom labs. I learned about concrete and soils, observed teaching strategies, and learned the ins and outs of a fruit sale. All the while receiving guidance, constructive criticism and insight about my future career as an Agricultural Educator. Perhaps the most important lessons I learned involved classroom discipline, this was the first time I was regarded as “Miss Motter” and had the duty of maintaining respect and attention. My conversations with students taught me new things every time I visited, and as a result I learned even more about myself, and my motivation for spending my talents in a classroom.

Our Early Field Experience required interviewing other educators, daily journals, lesson plan analyses, and careful record of educational psychology techniques. It required early mornings and long commutes, business casual attire, and continual planning. The purpose of this experience is to allow the self-evaluation necessary to either continue pursuing this future career, or to realize it’s not your path. Although confident in my desire to be a teacher, my Early Field Experience affirmed my decision and made me even more excited for the future. For me, the classroom is where I truly become the best version of myself. I have the ability to encourage and empower our future leaders and I feel fulfilled when I can bring a smile or helping hand to a student. I looked forward to driving through the small town of Richwood, talking with my students, and being a North Union Wildcat. Some people may feel confined in a high school, but when I walk down the halls I feel nothing but excitement for the potential in each and every student. Not every day was easy or enjoyable, but every day brought a new challenge and lesson learned. I have to admit I love the way Miss Motter sounds, I don’t mind grading papers, and coffee tastes a lot better when it comes from the break room.


Abby checking in fruit for North Union’s FFA Fruit Sale.

ACEL Dean’s List – Autumn 2016

Congratulations to the students in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership who were named to the Dean’s List for the 2016 Autumn Semester.

The students with an asterisk(*) beside their name received a 4.0.


Agricultural Communication 
Kristen Bondurant
Mindi Brookhart
Amanda Champa
Haley Clinker
Lauren Corry*
Tyler Crowe
Brianna Gwirtz*
Alexandra Hulvalchick
Mary Jenkins*
Karli Lump*
Miranda Miser
Chloe Moreland
Elizabeth Overholt
Michael Price
Taylor Pugh
Kaylee Reed
Leah Schwinn*
Jarred Shellhouse*
Mary Siekman
Alyssa Stanicki
Marlee Stollar*
Mandy Taylor
Ryan Vonderhaar

Agriscience Education 
Christine Balint
Shelby Balint*
Katherine Bell
Megan Bergman
Christopher Brown
Emily Burns*
Karlie Canfield
Katelyn Deaton
Jordan Dues
Sara Dungan
Connor Frame
Courtney Fulton
Donald Gase
Katrina Harper
Katie Hart
Logan Heiby
Wyatt Jones
Sarah Landis
Hailey Lowden *
Cody McClain*
Rachel McClellan
Summer McLain*
Abigale Motter
Frances Nicol
Geoffrey Norris
Etta Ray
Cole Riddle*
Tricia Schoen*
Ellyse Shafer
Haley Sherman
Carley Snider*
Emily Starlin
Robert Thiel
Tara Vorst
Kayla Walls
Samantha Wander*
Jessica White
Michael Willeke

Community Leadership
Sarah Bookman
Justin Bower
Nolan Champer
Ashley Gerlach
Kendall Glasser
Audrey Hoey
Morgan Jolliff
Chandler Kisiel
Travis Long
Sarah Longo*
Kristen Ramey*
Ryan Skinner
Mariah Stollar*
Katharine Stottlemyer