Dr. Charles W. Lifer: ’61, ’66 MS, ’69 PhD

Dr. Charles W. Lifer graduated from Ohio State in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and a master’s degree in agricultural education in 1966. Now retired, Dr. Lifer splits his time between Ohio and Florida.

[ACEL]: Hello Dr. Lifer. Why did you select your major or graduate program?
[Lifer]: Dr. Richard Wilson, professor in agricultural education and my undergraduate advisor, encouraged me to major in agricultural education because it provided the best employment opportunities in teaching and extension.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
My high school vocational agriculture teacher encouraged me to go to college and attend Ohio State.

 How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career?
My degree in agricultural education and extension education opened many doors beginning with employment as a county 4-H extension agent all the way to State 4-H Leader and professor in agriculture education.

As a student, how were you involved?
I was involved in Delta Theta Sigma Fraternity, Townsend Agricultural Education Society, and part time employment Ohio State University Cancer Research Lab.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
Dr. Warmbrod’s agricultural education research methods, Dr. Miller’s agricultural engineering drawing, and Dr. Powell’s Business Administration. Dr. Warmbrod’s agricultural education research methods, because he made a difficult subject interesting and understandable.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on our education/career?
Dr. Clarence Cunningham and Dr. Robert McCormick, who encouraged me to pursue a career in Extension and get a PhD.  This advice opened up career opportunities at the state level requiring a doctorate.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
As State 4-H leader and professor in agricultural education, I proposed the establishment of a State 4-H Center on the OSU Campus and followed through in getting it done.  This required University approval, site location, fund raising and personal gifting.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
County 4-H Agent in Monroe County, Ohio and the first 4-H Agent to be hired as County 4-H Agent and Chair.  Previously all county chairs were agricultural agents.

For what companies have you worked throughout your career?
All of my employment following graduation was with Ohio State in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and Ohio State Extension. This included County 4-H Agent, Monroe County; Area 4-H Agent, McConnelsville; Area Community Development Agent, Dover; State Leader Extension Studies and Evaluation, Columbus; Professor and State 4-H Leader, Columbus; and Director of Legislative Affairs, Columbus.  Most of these positions included administrative responsibilities.

Can you share any awards or honors you have received?
Many including Honorary State FFA Degree, Ohio 4-H Hall of Fame, National 4-H Hall of Fame, Regional Epsilon Sigma Phi Distinguished Service Award, Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame, and Ohio State Distinguished Service Award.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
Getting the $16 million dollar 4-H Center on the Ohio State Campus and as Area Community Development Agent in Dover, building the Outdoor Historical Drama amphitheater (Trumpet in the Land) and hiring recognized Author, Paul Green.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Choose an area of interest where there are great employment opportunities after graduation.  There is nothing worse than graduating with a college degree and no jobs available.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
Through the agricultural education student teaching and extension field experience it helped to have real world job experience.  The teachers and extension trainer agents were great mentors in preparing for my career after graduation.

Lifer as a high school senior.

Alumni Spotlight: Lucinda Miller, ’74, ’77 MS, ’09 PhD

Lucinda Berry Miller joined our department for her master and doctoral degrees in agricultural education, which she completed in 1977 and 2009, respectively. Originally from Ashland, Ohio, Lucinda now resides in Mt. Vernon, Ohio and works for The Ohio State University Extension as an extension specialist with 4-H Youth Development livestock, companion and small animal programs.

[ACEL]: Hello Lucinda! You completed your undergraduate degree in animal science at Ohio State and then completed a master’s degree in agricultural education. Why did you choose our graduate program?
[Miller]: I wanted to do something related to agriculture and follow my love of 4-H.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University for all three of your degrees?
Is there any other? Seriously though, I chose Ohio State to get the education I needed to either teach vocational agriculture or become an Extension professional.

Did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career?
Actually it was my professors who influenced my career path.

What professor was that for you?
Dr. Joe Gliem had the biggest impact as he constantly urged me to think critically and problem solve. He never gave up on me and always encouraged me.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State? Did you have a favorite?
I enjoyed the animal production classes the most. Horse Production was my favorite, because of my love of horses and Dr. Charlie Hutton as my professor.

Outside of the classroom, in what activities did you participate?
I was involved in Saddle and Sirloin Club. I also worked as a student employee at the OSU horse barns for 3.5 years as an undergrad.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
I really enjoyed working at the OSU Horse Facilities and learning from Dr. Hutton and Chuck Smith.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
I taught a Small Animal Care unit at Live Oaks Career Center as a vocational agriculture instructor. I actually did my student teaching during my first fall of teaching!

Over the course of your career, what positions have you held?
I have worked at Live Oaks Career Center, OSU Extension in Pike and Scioto counties and for the State 4-H Office.

You’ve been recognized by a number of organizations for your dedication to 4-H. What are some of those awards? I don’t remember all, but some include Excellence in 4-H, National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Distinguished Service Award and Meritorious Service Award and I was inducted into the Ohio State Fair Hall of Fame.

We know your career isn’t completed yet, so as of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
I think my favorite and most rewarding is seeing former 4-H members, such as yourself*, be successful as adults; hopefully a lot of that success was instilled in them as 4-H members.

We have several students interested in Extension and positions like you have held. What advice would you give them?
My advice is for students to follow their dreams, find a vocation they love and that doesn’t seem like a job, and take advantage of job opportunities that come along to fulfill those dreams. (Good study habits never hurt, either!)

Our last question, what did ACEL cultivate in you?
I think ACEL taught me how to engage students to take risks and explore the many avenues of learning. Dr. L.H. Newcomb and Dr. Joe Gliem taught me how to be a successful teacher.

Thanks Lucinda!

*Miller refers to Emily Wickham, who conducted this interview. Wickham was a 13 year 4-H member in Pike County while Miller served as the 4-H agent/educator.

Alumni Spotlight: Tom McNutt, ’55, ’62 MS

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!