Tom McNutt graduated with his bachelor and master degrees in agricultural education in 1955 and 1962, respectively. Originally from Dunkirk, Ohio, Tom and his wife reside in Hilliard. He has worked in a few positions over the years, with his most recognizable one being the garden expert on NBC4 each Saturday morning from 1989 to 2013.
[ACEL]: Hello Tom! You majored in agricultural education. What influenced your decision to choose that major?
[McNutt]: I was very active in 4-H, FFA, and Vocational Agriculture in school and wanted to be like my Vocational Agriculture teacher.
Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University? Did Ohio State influence your career path?
Ohio State University offered everything I needed to accomplish my objectives. It provided me with all the essentials for the career I had already chosen.
Did you have a favorite course and professor during your time at Ohio State?
Animal Science Feed and Feeding because the professor was a master teacher. I really liked Dr. Austin Ritchie. He was my advisor and mentor during my undergraduate work at OSU.
Outside of the classroom, how did you stay busy?
I worked 20 hours a week in the OSU mailing room and weekends selling automobiles, Fuller Brush products, and night shift at a hamburger restaurant to pay for my education. This left me very little time for campus life.
Share with us a favorite memory of yours from our time at Ohio State?
Once I was coming out of the shower following Phys. Ed. class and ran smack into Woody Hayes. He picked me up by both my shoulders and said, “Young man, did you ever think about coming out for football?” I shuddered and replied, “No, Sir!” To which he stated, “Well you should with the way you hit!”
What a compliment from Coach Hayes! After you graduated, what was your first job?
I taught vocational agriculture at Belle Center High School in Logan County.
What other jobs have you held throughout your career?
In 1963, after teaching Vocational Agriculture at Belle Center and Dublin high school for 7 years, I moved to Ohio State University faculty, first as a 4-H Agent then promoted to Agriculture Agent and County Chairman. I retired from extension on December 31, 1988 and hold the title of Professor Emeritus. From 1989 to 2004 I served as executive coordinator of the Ohio Council of Cooperatives. Also serving as Executive Director of the Ohio Agricultural Council from 1990 to 2003. I was also the NBC4 TV News Garden Expert from 1989 to 2013, hosting a live TV show every Saturday at 8:00 A.M. and taped another garden segment for Sunday mornings.
You’ve had a long career, with many awards and honors. What are a few of those that stand out to you?
I have received numerous state and national awards for work with cooperatives, community service, public relations, horticultural management and media. I few by name that stick out include the John W. Galbreath Award, Ohio Farm Bureau Cooperative Educator Award, Educator and Public Service Award – Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association, NACAA Search for Excellence Award (5 times), OFMA Award for Dedicated Service to Franklin County and the Cream of the Crop Award from the Franklin County Fair.
I have also been inducted into several Hall of Fame’s including: Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame, Ohio 4-H Hall of Fame, Dublin High School Hall of Fame and Hardin Northern High School Hall of Fame.
From throughout your 60 year career, you must have many memorable highlights. Share a few of those with us.
I wrote and published a book entitled “Tom’s (Green) Thumb – Advice to grow on in a (Mc)Nutt shell”, I have hosted farm and garden tours with my wife Joan and lectured all over the world while visiting. And while filming my NBC4 segment, I would meet so many nice people.
What advice would you give to a current Ohio State student who looks to a career like yours?
Enjoy your college years but take it seriously. My philosophy has always been, “Promise no more than you can deliver and deliver on all your promises.”
Our final question. What did ACEL cultivate in you?
All people are important. Be willing to listen to all points of view. Most of all, enjoy life!