ACEL alumni board announces 2021 awards

The alumni board of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) at The Ohio State University is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 ACEL Alumni Awards.

One mission of the alumni board is to recognize department alumni for the outstanding work they are doing in their careers and communities. This mission is accomplished through the annual awards program. For 2021, seven alumni have been selected for mentor to students, young alumni, and distinguished alumni awards.

“The nominations were overflowing in 2021 and we know there are ACEL alumni truly making a difference in our communities,” said Nicole Volk ‘16, ACEL alumni board president for 2021. “I wish we could have awarded all our nominees as award, because each one is truly deserving of the honor.”

Dr. Brooke Beam and Allison Ryan were presented the Young Alumni Award. This award is given to an alum under the age of 34 who has demonstrated professional and/or personal service achievements worthy of recognition.

Dr. Brooke Beam is a three-time alum of the ACEL department graduating with her bachelor, masters, and doctorate degrees in agricultural communication, graduating in 2012, 2014, and 2017, respectively. She currently serves as the agricultural and natural resources/community development educator with Ohio State Extension in Highland County. Beam incorporates technology, hands-on demonstrations, and videos to keep her community engaged. She also owns and operates a grain farm in Clinton County.

Allison Ryan is a 2008 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communication. She is the director of marketing and communications at MVP Dairy LLC in Celina, Ohio. Ryan uses her extensive dairy background and agricultural communication degree to promote Ohio’s dairy community and share farming experiences with consumers.

The Mentor to Students Award, which recognizes alumni who have been mentors in facilitating the growth and future of Ohio State students, was presented to Susan Farr and Abbey VanTyne.

Susan Farr graduated with a degree in agricultural education in 1992. She taught high school agricultural education and served as an FFA advisor for several years before serving as the director of the Help Me Grow project with the Paulding County Board of Developmental Disabilities. She now works as an intervention specialist with the Vantage Career Center in Van Wert, Ohio.

Abbey VanTyne is a two-time graduate of ACEL, completing a bachelor’s degree in agriscience education in 2016 and a master’s degree in agricultural communication, education, and leadership in 2021. Since 2016 she has been an agricultural educator with Norwayne High School and has willingly hosted Ohio State’s agriscience education students for their early field experience and student teaching requirements.

Dr. Corey Cockerill, Dr. Stacy Gartin, and Bruce Zimmer were recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes the professional achievements and personal service achievements of ACEL alumni.

Dr. Corey Cockerill earned a bachelor in agricultural communication in 2000. She also obtained a master’s degree in rural sociology and a doctorate degree in environmental sociology policy and communication from Ohio State. Cockerill is an associate professor of communication arts and agricultural communication at Wilmington College. Before her position at Wilmington, she was an electronic communications manager for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.

Dr. Stacy Gartin completed his master’s and doctorate degrees in agricultural education from Ohio State. Gartin has been a faculty member of West Virginia University’s Agricultural and Extension Education Unit since 1984 serving as chairman from 1992-1996 and 2002-2009. Before joining the WVU faculty, he was a visiting assistant professor at Purdue University and a vocational agricultural teacher at a high school in Colorado.

Bruce Zimmer earned a master’s degree in agricultural and extension education from Ohio State in 1988. Zimmer’s career with Ohio State Extension spans more than 30 years. Since 2016, he has served as the 4-H and youth development educator in Washington County. From 1989-2016 he worked as an educator in Monroe County.

The ACEL Alumni Awards are typically presented at the department’s annual banquet, which did not take place in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The recipients will be recognized at an event in 2022.

The ACEL alumni board comprised of 12 alumni members, three from each program area and three at-large positions, as well as one student from each program area. The mission of the board is to connect alumni to current ACEL students, connect alumni with each other, and to recognize the alumni for the outstanding work they are doing in their careers and communities.

If you have witnessed an ACEL alum doing extraordinary work, consider nominating them for an ACEL Alumni Award. Nomination forms for the 2022 ACEL Alumni Awards are now available and are open until January 31, 2022. Visit our website to learn more at


Seven ACEL Buckeyes graduate during Autumn Commencement


Congratulations to the seven ACEL Buckeyes who completed degrees with us during Autumn Semester 2021.

Master of Education
Doris Huffman

Master of Science
Treg Brown
Frances Foos

Bachelor of Science
Agricultural Communication
Amber Bergman
Kelsey Decker
Abbey Werstler

Community Leadership
Ally McCurdy

News Release: Landaverde receives University’s Presidential Fellowship

Rafael Landaverde, graduate associate and doctoral student in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) at the Ohio State University, has received the University’s Presidential Fellowship.

The Presidential Fellowship recognizes outstanding scholarly accomplishments and potential graduate students entering the final phase of their dissertation research or terminal degree project. It provides financial support so the candidate can devote one year of full-time study to the completion of the dissertation or degree project.

“Rafael has worked extremely hard as a doctoral student in our department and is deserving of this prestigious award,” said Dr. Shannon Washburn, professor and chair of ACEL. “As he enters his final phase of his education, this award will allow Rafael to focus on the completion of his dissertation project that explores how to strengthen the post-harvest capacities among small-scale farmers in rural Central America.”

His research project could have a substantial effect on the future adoption of technologies that will in turn make a large impact on the lives of small-scale famers in low- and middle-income countries.

Landaverde is a graduate of Texas Tech University where he earned a masters in agricultural education and is also a graduate of Zamorano University in Honduras with a bachelor’s degree in environment and development.

Students in the ACEL graduate program at Ohio State may specialize in agricultural communication, agricultural education, community and extension education, international development, or leadership. The agricultural communication, education, and leadership graduate program offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science, Master of Education and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. The Doctor of Philosophy degree prepares students for careers as administrators, specialists, university faculty and researchers.




Alumni Spotlight: Matt Elsass ’12

Matthew Elsass is a 2012 agricultural and extension education graduate who grew up in Anna, Ohio. He now lives in Sidney, Ohio. and is an agricultural educator at Marion Local High School in Maria Stein, Ohio. 

We asked Matthew to share with us what it is like to be an agricultural educator and his answers are below.

Candid headshot from hat day during FFA Week.

[ACEL]: Why did you choose to major in agricultural and extension education (now called agriscience education) as a college student?
[Elsass]: I was pulled into agricultural education by watching my own ag teachers interact with other teachers at contests, conferences, conventions, camp, etc. I saw the strong connection between them and saw what a rich professional network looks like. While in college, I developed a passion for consumer education and trying to help shrink the knowledge gap between the producer and the consumer.  

Tell us about your current job as an agricultural educator and responsibilities associated with the job?
I currently teach agricultural science courses at Marion Local High School in Maria Stein, Ohio. I teach agronomy, livestock science, AFNR, food science, agricultural business and conservation science courses. I am also the Marion Local FFA advisor as well, aiding our student leaders in planning and implementing programming to promote agriculture in our community. 

I love taking students to visit local businesses and talk to industry professionals. Many of them don’t realize the amount of agricultural industry in the community!

What is your favorite part of the job?
One of the things I like most in my job is getting to share new experiences with students! Things like watching an FFA member attend FFA camp for the first time, an officer pulling off their first major event, or having them cross the stage at the State FFA Convention all bring a smile to my face. Whether they happen in or out of the classroom, they never lose their appeal. 

Interacting with younger students is a satisfying part of my job, especially when those educational moments are led by ag science students of mine.

Did you hold any other jobs between graduation and your current job?
As a newly minted graduate, I spent a month long-term subbing in the Ridgemont High School science department. After that, I spent the first 3 years of my teaching career at Greeneview High School in Jamestown, Ohio.   

How did majoring in agricultural and extension education help prepare you for your career?
The agricultural education major (now called agriscience education) at Ohio State was crucial in helping me understand what the teaching profession entails. They were open about its hardships along with its rewards. The advisors did a good job harboring a group mentality among our classmates, just like you encounter in the ag teaching profession amongst other ag science teachers. 

As a student, what internships or other involvement were you a part of?
As a student at Ohio State, I was a member of the Agricultural Education Society (AES) and Farmhouse-ATZ Fraternity. Surrounding myself with individuals with a passion for agriculture and education was vital in helping me develop the skills to exceed in my chosen career and to practice the professionalism necessary in a school setting. I was also a student manager in the audio/video department at the Ohio Union for over two years. It was amazing meeting everyone from Bobby Knight to Nick Offerman while helping setup and do sound checks for various events. AV might seem like a strange choice for an agricultural education major, but every shift was unique. I was able to practice my people skills helping clients of the union and learn technical skills that have proven useful in the classroom. Also, my bosses were amazing!  


Attending community events with my family is one way that I share the experience of being an ag teacher. My kids are always excited to see “Daddy’s students”!

How are you involved in your community outside of your job responsibilities?
I am a member of the Ohio Association of Agricultural Educators (OAAE). I am also an Anna FFA Alumni member, Ohio FFA Alumni member and parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus church in McCartyville, OH. With Sacred Heart, I have been a CYO Basketball coach in the past. 

Why should someone reading this consider a career in agricultural education?
Anyone that enjoys helping others find their passion in life and guiding them toward a life of fulfillment and community service should consider becoming an agricultural educator.




Collins-Warfield awarded AGGRS

Amy Collins-Warfield was recently awarded the Alumni Grants for Graduate Research and Scholarship also known as AGGRS. This program provides small grants up to $5,000 to support the research and scholarship of doctoral or terminal master’s degree candidates for their dissertations or thesis.  

This annual competition takes place during autumn semester and is tied to financial need. Awards are made on the merit of the proposal, which must be for work that is essential to the dissertation or thesis. 

Congratulations Amy!

Washburn named new chair of CFAES Teaching, Advising and Learning

Washburn, 2021

Shannon Washburn, professor and chair of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), has been named the college’s Sanford G. Price and Isabelle P. Barbee Chair in Teaching, Advising, and Learning.

His term begins Nov. 1.

Washburn, who joined ACEL as professor and chair in 2020, previously served as an assistant dean for Academic Programs for the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University, from 2015 to 2020. In that role, he led the college’s student retention efforts, facilitated professional development opportunities for faculty and instructional staff on teaching and advising, and coordinated the course and curriculum processes for the college.

While at Kansas State, Washburn also served as a professor of agricultural education and as an associate professor of agricultural education. He earned his PhD in agricultural education from the University of Missouri, and a Master of Science in secondary education and a Bachelor of Science in agricultural education from Kansas State.

William H. Price II of Cody, Wyoming, funded the Sanford G. Price and Isabelle P. Barbee Chair in Teaching, Advising, and Learning in 2002 with a gift to The Ohio State University Foundation. The chair is named in memory of his father, Sanford G. Price, BS 1919, and his aunt, Isabelle Price Barbee, BS 1919, both of Woodville, Ohio.

The Price-Barbee Chair was established to support the leadership of an endowed faculty chair position charged with fostering a collegewide environment of excellence in teaching and learning, said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State’s vice president for agricultural administration and CFAES dean.

“We are grateful for William Price’s support to fund this position for CFAES and excited to welcome Dr. Washburn to this position,” Kress said. “The Price-Barbee Chair is a significant gift for the teaching, learning, and advising enterprise of our college.”

Having dedicated funding that supports learning and advising through the role of the teacher makes this gift unique, said Tracy Kitchel, CFAES senior associate dean and director of faculty and staff affairs.

“This position will focus on providing leadership and expertise around teaching and advising enhancement that will include initiatives at the college level designed to complement the work of the Michael V. Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning,” Kitchel said. “I am excited about the expertise Dr. Washburn brings to the table. We have such a diversity of expertise in our college, and to have expertise in teaching and learning is particularly valuable as it relates to this endowed chair. Dr. Washburn is an award-winning teacher who has a tremendous record of supporting future and current teachers at the secondary to postsecondary levels.”

In his new role as Price-Barbee Chair, Washburn said he plans to focus on several issues including:

  • creating and directing a faculty exchange for teaching excellence to identify current challenges and barriers to effective teaching practice to be used in creating a prioritized plan for professional development needs.
  • providing content direction and organization for a semi-annual college symposium in teaching excellence.
  • providing leadership for a monthly new-faculty brown bag series on teaching and advising best practices.
  • emphasizing priority on helping new faculty adopt research-based effective practices as they develop their teaching and advising identities in the early stages of their careers.

“I’m honored at the opportunity to work with the incredibly talented and dedicated faculty in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences to enhance their expertise in teaching to further strengthen the student learning experience in CFAES,” Washburn said. “There is such a rich tradition of teaching excellence and commitment to student growth in our college, and the Price-Barbee Chair is dedicated to continuing that tradition by providing ongoing growth opportunities for faculty and instructional staff.

“I look forward to partnering with my colleagues and helping them further refine their teaching craft.”

The appointment of Washburn as the Price-Barbee Chair will also significantly enhance the ability of CFAES’ Academic Programs to provide professional development opportunities for faculty members, said Steve Neal, associate dean and director of CFAES academic programs.

“Dr. Washburn brings important expertise to this role, which will be of great benefit for the college,” Neal said.


This article was originally published by CFAES Marketing and Communications.

Parrott wins Sheep Production Proficiency

Zoe Parrott, a freshman studying agriscience education, won the Sheep Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement Proficiency at the 2021 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Her project consisted of 24 ewes that are mainly Hampshire and Hamp crosses, three replacement ewe lambs, one Hamp cross ram, and one Hampshire cross ram. The Hamp cross ram was produced by Parrott using laparoscopic artificial insemination.

Parrott is a member of the Northmor FFA Chapter. She is pictured with her parents, Patty and Ken. Ken Parrott also serves as the FFA advisor for the Northmor FFA Chapter.

Rodriguez, Rumbled selected for CFAES STARS Program Inaugural Cohort

Dr. Mary Rodriguez, associate professor of community leadership, and Dr. Joy Rumble, assistant professor of agricultural communication, have been selected to participate in the inaugural CFAES STARS Program Cohort.

The hiring of the Ohio State University’s 16th President, Dr. Kristina M. Johnson, and her subsequent appointment of Dr. Grace Wang in the newly formed position of Executive Vice President of Research, Innovation, and Knowledge has injected much enthusiasm for research across the university. In the 2021 State of the University Address, President Johnson announced that, “Ohio State aims to double its sponsored research within this decade,” solidifying the importance of research to the university.

Many new initiatives have been developed in the past year in response to the president’s call for “excellence in research and creative expression,” including: a planned investment of $750 million over the next decade for research and researchers, the creation of the Presidential Research Excellence Fund to support research projects, the launch of Exploratory Research Groups by the Sustainability Institute, and the kickoff of the Growing Research Opportunities (GRO) Academy.

The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) is also responding to this renewed commitment to research. As a college-level effort to identify and develop the next generation of research leaders among early and mid-career tenure track faculty within the college, the CFAES Office for Research & Graduate Education announced the inaugural STARS Program.

The goal of the Strategic Alignment for Research Success (STARS) program is to propel emerging research leaders – those individuals with the interest, vision, and motivation – to take their research programs to a higher and more collaborative level. The program will provide participants with the information, skills, and connections they need to assemble and lead large-scale teams in the pursuit of major extramural funding. Participants selected for the 2021-2022 STARS cohort are primarily early to mid-career career faculty with at least two years in their current position from a variety of CFAES departments.

Dr. Gary Pierzynski, Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Education for CFAES, has been instrumental in the development of this new initiative. “We need to think broadly about what our researchers need. Going beyond grant writing workshops, successful researchers require management skills, leadership skills, strategies for building a resume, and experience managing mid-sized grants to better position them for the big ones.”

The cohort will participate in a 6-month leadership program consisting of individual and group exercises as well as lectures and group discussions designed for early and mid-career faculty. Leadership experts from both inside and outside OSU will provide course content. Participants will be coached one-on-one to develop their research action plan which will be aimed at strengthening their research activities. Group members will have access to a monthly networking opportunity among research leaders and peers with the goal of fostering collaboration among participants from diverse disciplines.

“The STARS program facilitates the building of a track record of accomplishments and awards, management skills, and leadership skills for faculty that are essential for competing for major awards,” said Dr. Gary Pierzynski. “We have learned a great deal this past year regarding what it takes to get this work done and will continue to collaborate with faculty, administration, and staff to make the processes more efficient.”

Introducing the 2021 Cohort

Dr. Marília Chiavegato, Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science

Dr. Jessica Cooperstone, Assistant Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology

Dr. Suzanne Gray, Associate Professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources

Dr. Andrea Gschwend, Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science

Dr. Emmanuel Hatzakis, Assistant Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology

Dr. Shoshanah Inwood, Associate Professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources

Dr. Zoë Plakias, Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics

Dr. Jonathan Fresnedo Ramirez, Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science

Dr. Alejandro E. Relling, Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences

Dr. Mary Rodriguez, Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership

Dr. Joy Rumble, Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership

Dr. Christopher Simons, Associate Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology

View full participant bios, here.

Original article by Alexis Didinger modified for publication.

ACEL senior named Homecoming Court Member

CFAES Student and 4-H alumna Maddie Allman has been selected for the 2021 Ohio State University Homecoming Court. This honor does not come easily, and Allman attributes much of her success to her 4-H experience. Read about Maddie’s 4-H story by the Ohio 4-H Foundation here:…/september-2021/4-h-royalty-ohio-state

Voting for Homecoming Court Royals begins on Friday, September 24th and ends on Friday, October 1st. Each undergraduate student will have the opportunity to cast two votes. The 2021 Royal Buckeyes will be announced during pre-game on Saturday, October 9, 2021.

Each member of Ohio State’s homecoming court also chooses an organization they are passionate about and are expected to conduct a fundraiser for the group. Maddie has chosen to fundraise on behalf of the Ohio 4-H program with a goal of recieving a donation from all 50 U.S. States. All donations made to Maddie’s fundraiser will go to the Ohio 4-H Foundation Fund. This fund supports Ohio 4-H Youth Development programming efforts and goes toward supporting 4-H members participating in conferences, camps, and other activities. Fundraising is open from Monday, September 20th to Monday, October 11th.  If you are interested in donating to Maddie’s fundraiser, please follow the link

ACEL to celebrate National Teach Ag Day, host info session

For the last 12 years, the National Teach Ag Campaign has celebrated current and future agriculture teachers across the United States with National Teach Ag Day. The 2021 celebration will take place on September 16th and the National Teach Ag Campaign wants to invite everyone who has been positively impacted by agricultural education to join in the celebration.

More than 13,000 agriculture teachers nationwide and more than 530 in Ohio strive to impact the lives of students through classroom instruction, experiential learning, and leadership development every day, and National Teach Ag Day is just one-way individuals are encouraged to pursue a rewarding career in teaching agriculture.

National Teach Ag Day also brings awareness to the current, national demand for agriscience teachers. Every year, more than 100 new agriscience programs open and need highly qualified, diverse, and dedicated agriscience teachers to make a difference in the lives of their students across the country.

To celebrate, the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) at The Ohio State University will host a virtual info session on the agriscience education major on National Teach Ag Day. The one-hour program, from 7-8pm EDT, will include an overview of the major, a breakout session with current students and an overview of Ohio State and our application process. Any high school or college students interested in learning more about this profession are encouraged to register at

“Contrary to popular opinion, agriscience education programs are increasing in Ohio with 26 new programs and 35 additional teaching positions added in the state since 2015,” said Dr. Shannon Washburn, professor of agriscience education and chair of ACEL, “We believe that all young people deserve to have opportunities to learn about the science of food production and to be exposed to the wide spectrum of exciting careers involved in preserving our natural resources while feeding the world. This learning begins for so many young people in an agriscience education classroom and agriscience education teachers make that happen.”

The agriscience education major at Ohio State began in 1917. This program prepares its students to acquire a license to teach agricultural science in secondary high schools in Ohio and across the country. They go through extensive training in agricultural science, educational psychology, instructional methods, and youth development. The major continues to develop ways to prepare aspiring agricultural educators so they can use their education to mold the youth of today into the future leaders of tomorrows agriculture industry.

ACEL prepares communicators, educators and leaders in the food, agricultural, and environmental sciences to integrate research-based learning, practice and engagement, in ways that will advance positive changes that strengthen individuals, families and communities. For more information on the academic programs and research available in ACEL, or to donate to student scholarships, please visit