News Release: Blue attends the Smithfield Foods Explore Seminar

Kalyn Blue with a Smithfield Foods painted pig statue.

Kalyn Blue, an agricultural communication major from Hamler, Ohio, recently attended the Smithfield Foods Explore Seminar in Smithfield, Virginia. During this experience, attendees worked alongside industry leaders to explore real-world protein industry problems utilizing the integration of cross-collaborative teams.

Blue was selected as one of five undergraduate students out of the 25 students to attend this seminar.

“I admire Kalyn’s initiative to apply for this seminar and attend the Smithfield Foods event,” said Dr. Shannon Washburn, professor and chair of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL). “This experience provided her with opportunities to network with professionals from around the country and gain additional skills and knowledge that will benefit her in her future career.”

At the summit, Blue was able to learn about the company and career opportunities, tour the largest bacon packing plant in the United States, and network with many other students.

“During my time in Smithfield, I learned that there are many career opportunities in the meat industry. I was also put into a group of four other students and formulated a bacon recipe. We worked in groups to truly see how the different teams of Smithfield work together to complete goals,” said Blue.

Blue is a senior at Ohio State and is an active member of the Meat Science Club.

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 undergraduate and graduate academic programs and research available in ACEL, please visit


Alspet and Watkins Named Royal Buckeyes

Homecoming court members are chosen based on their leadership qualities, Buckeye spirit, integrity, and achievement. The court selection process begins with a paper application, based on these application scores and students GPA, individual interviews are offered and conducted. The scores from the application and interview are combined to determine sic members for the court.

The Ohio State ACEL Department was pleased to see four students from our department on the CFAES Wooster Campus Court:
Raegan Alsept, junior, agricultural communication and community leadership
Faith Galavich, sophomore, agriscience education
Laura Scholl, sophomore, agriscience education
Hannah Watkins, sophomore, agricultural communication

Alsept and Watkins were announced as the two Royal Buckeyes for the Wooster campus.

After announced at the coronation ceremony, these two spent the weekend on the Columbus campus participating in the parade, fireworks and were even announced at the Shoe prior to the Ohio State versus Rutgers game.

Both students are deserving of their role and have a big year ahead of them.

Alsept said she hopes to serve students and the community while also raising the morale of Wooster’s campus during her role as a Royal Buckeye.

Being nervous about applying for the court is normal, but Watkins says, “get out of your comfort zone and go for it. This opportunity is like no other, so jump at the chance to apply.”

Current ACEL Buckeyes interested in applying for their campuses Homecoming Court in 2023 should look for application announcements at and in the ACEL Nutshell.

Faculty, graduate students attend NC-AAAE

The Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership had several members of our faculty, along with graduate students, attend the annual conference for the North Central Region of the American Association for Agricultural Education. The conference was hosted by the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.

At the annual awards banquet, Dr. Amand Bowling, Dr. Annie Specht, and Dr. Mary Rodriguez were presented with awards.

Dr. Amanda Bowling, assistant professor of agriscience education, was presented the 2022 North Central AAAE Region Outstanding Early Career Member award at their annual conference this morning

Dr. Annie Specht, associate professor of agricultural communication, was presented with the 2022 North Central AAAE Region Distinguished Agricultural Communications Educator award.

Dr. Mary Rodriguez, associate professor of community leadership, was presented with the 2022 North Central AAAE Region Distinguished International Agricultural Educator.

Other faculty and graduate students who participated in the conference, including research presentations, poster sessions and served in leadership roles for the organization include:

Research Presentations:
Supporting Student Choice: A Case Study of Autonomy Supportive Instructional Behaviors in SBAE Programs
Hannah C. Parker, The Ohio State University
Amanda M. Bowling, The Ohio State University

Work Life Harmony Experiences of Early Career Agriculture Teachers in Kansas
Brandie Disberger, Kansas State University
Shannon Washburn, The Ohio State University
Gaea Hock, Kansas State University
Jonathan Ulmer, Kansas State University

“I wanted to Be the Teacher I Needed.” Experiences of Lesbian and Gay School-Based Agriscience Teachers
Colby Gregg, The Ohio State University
Amanda Bowling, The Ohio State University

A Case Study of Ohio Agricultural Organizations Engagement with D&I
Kamron S. Rinehart, Texas Tech University
Jera Niewoehner-Green, The Ohio State University
Shannon Washburn, The Ohio State University

Edutainment on the Farm: A content Analysis of Tweets about Clarkson’s Farm
Nellie Hill, Kansas State University
Kellie Claflin, The Ohio State University
Annie Spect, The Ohio State University
Gaea Hock, Kansas State University

Social Media Usage in The Ohio State University ANR Extension Communication
Kiley Holbrook, The Ohio State University
Erica Summerfield, The Ohio State University
Annie Specht, The Ohio State University

A content Analysis of SBAE Preservice Teacher Disposition Assessments
Brooke Thiel, North Dakota State University
Kellie Claflin, The Ohio State University

Poster Presentations:
Airtable: A Resource for Research
Kaitlyn Evans, The Ohio State University
Kellie Claflin, The Ohio State University

Building Relationships and Technical Skills for Student Teachers
Hannah Parker, The Ohio State University
Kellie Claflin, The Ohio State University

Engaging Students with the Syllabus Through Social Annotation
Kellie Claflin, The Ohio State University
Tim Buttles, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

A Guide for Acclimatizing International Graduate Students for American Educational and Cultural Experiences
Benard Walumbe, The Ohio State University
Shannon Washburn, The Ohio State University
Mary Rodriguez, The Ohio State University

Roundtable Talks:
How Can Course Grading Be More Inclusive?
Tim Buttles, University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Co-presenter: Kellie Claflin, The Ohio State University

Committee Membership:
Member Services Committee, Kellie Claflin
Professional Development Committee, Amanda Bowling

Celebrating Past, Present, and Future ACEL Agriscience Education Students


Group of agriscience education students.

Just a few of our agriscience education students at Ohio State!

The Ohio State Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership is excited to celebrate agricultural educators on Thursday, September 15 for National Teach Ag Day. Specifically past, present, and future ACEL agriscience education students.

The agriscience education major at Ohio State prepares its students you to acquire a license to teach agricultural science in secondary high schools in Ohio and across the country, with extensive training in agricultural science, educational psychology, instructional methods, and youth development.

Current ACEL students who are studying agriscience education share why they wish to become agricultural educators after graduation.

Maranda Berger, I want to be an ag teacher to show kids that they don’t have to go to college to be successful. I want students to know that trades are just as valuable as a college education. I want to be the person that believes in a child when no one else does and the teacher that inspires a child to graduate.”

Kayla Bowens, “I chose to be in the agriculture education profession because I want to broaden students’ knowledge about agriculture and teach them about how agriculture is in their everyday lives.”

Cora Crilow, I chose to be an agricultural educator because I want to give students the same opportunities that I was given in ag class. I believe that ag education is vital in schools and I’m so excited to educate future generations!”

Faith Galavich, I chose to be an agriscience educator because I want to give my future students the best experience possible and help them grow not only as agriculturalist and leaders of tomorrow, but to grow as people.”

Sarah Hoog, “I believe that it’s important for everyone to know all that agriculture has to offer all, from career opportunities to leadership skills they can develop from it no matter their background.” 

Julia Kitchen, “I chose to be an ag educator because of all the positive impacts that my teacher had on me. I also chose to be an educator because I can teach while expressing my love for agriculture.”

Alexandra Liskai, I chose to become an agricultural educator to show students the opportunities that the agriculture industry has and to help students find their passion in the industry.” 

Alexis McCord, I chose to be an agricultural educator because I realized how many kids don’t know about agriculture. I want to share the love and passion I have for agriculture and all it beholds by sharing it through the form of teaching to people younger than I am.”

Shelby Nicholl, “I chose to study agriscience education because of the impact that my agriculture educator had on my life. I also love educating others about this wonderful industry and developing my knowledge on the industry.”

Keagan Nicol, I chose to become an agricultural educator to share my passion for the agricultural industry with the younger generations. I want to be able to open doors and create pathways for individuals to succeed in the future.” 

Jonna Nissen, I chose to be an agricultural educator as I want to ignite students’ passions and develop a bright future through the use of agriculture.”

Zoe Parrott, “I am becoming an agricultural educator to inspire students to love agriculture and be engaged in the industry.”

Annell Prochnow, I want teach agriculture because of the influence and mentorship my agricultural educator had on me. I also am excited to share my passion for agriculture with future generations.”

Whitney Phillips, “I chose to be an agricultural educator because I want the new generation of students to know the importance of agriculture.”

Matt Roth, “To have a positive impact on students’ lives. By being a positive role model in and out of the classroom.”

Emily Schmitz, “I chose to become an agricultural educator because my ag teacher had a huge impact on me during my time in FFA. She encouraged me, supported me, and showed me hard love in times that I needed to hear it. Seeing my mom and sister work in education also inspired me to pursue a career that I can teach, love, and serve students within the classroom. Growing up on the farm, I knew I wanted to be involved in agriculture, but I just wasn’t sure how. When I got involved in FFA, it made total sense to combine agriculture with education as a career path.”

Laura Scholl, “I want to become an agricultural educator because I want to advocate for agriculture and the best place to start is in our classrooms.”

Anna Shearer, “I chose to be an agricultural educator as I saw the benefits of students developing soft skills for their future careers while becoming educated consumers.  

Andrea Smith, Why I chose to start the path to becoming an agriculture educator, all started when one day it just hit me as I was sitting in my FFA Advisor, Mrs. Burden’s classroom, that I wanted to teach ag education. Coming from a rural, small-town background, there were kids that lived on the farm and those who wanted to. I was one who wanted to, so in my case, 4-H and FFA helped me express my love and passion for the agriculture industry in multiple aspects. As an agriculture educator, I can help those who were raised like I was and give them those experiences as my FFA advisor did for me. Working with my future students gives me a chance to help students express, or even find their passion in agriculture.”

Lauren Thornhill, “I chose to become an ag teacher because I enjoy teaching others about what I love and seeing their excitement over topics that interest them. My ag teachers played a huge role in putting me on this path as they were instrumental in giving me the skills to become the person I am today. I am super excited about this career!”

Landen Tull, “I want to be an ag educator because I believe that I can help make a difference in my community and classroom through agriscience education and FFA by helping students learn about the agriculture industry and help them get involved.” 

Lillian Wagner, “I chose to be an agricultural educator because I want to be able to teach the future generation about agriculture and how they can make an impact in the community.”

Annie Warren, I choose to teach ag because I think it is important to understand how agriculture affects you, your community, and the environment.”

Leah Winchell, “I am becoming an agricultural educator to inspire individuals to seek knowledge and empower them to develop and grow to the best version of themselves.”

Rebecca Wright, “I loved my time in my high school agricultural education classroom and as an FFA member in high school. The ag classroom felt like my second home. I have so many fond memories of being an officer, competing in CDEs, learning about all the diverse fields of agriculture in class with hands-on activities, attending conventions, and so on. I wanted to become an ag teacher so that I could make sure that my future students also have a great experience, just like I did.”

ACEL Buckeyes at Back to School Bash

On Thursday, September 1, many ACEL Buckeyes were present at the 2022 CFAES Back to School Bash! Our students were representing greek life, groups, and organizations they’re involved with, but others were there to find their fit.

This event gave many new students the chance to meet fellow Buckeyes, and learn about how they can get involved in the college. Both new and returning students were welcomed with a meal, dessert, live music, and of course by CFAES faculty and staff.

This event is a favorite of many students and we enjoy celebrating the kick off to the new school year with them!

Two girls standing in front of food trucks at Back to School Bash.

Lauren and Reagan at Back to School Bash.








Welcome new ACEL Buckeyes!

On Monday, August 22, 13 new students attended the CFAES/ACEL pre-convocation. These students are first year freshman, transfer students or have transitioned from an Ohio State regional campus to Columbus.

While not all new ACEL Buckeyes were in attendance, we’re glad we got to meet these 13 and wish all new students an easy transition to their time with us!

Rockers hired as assistant professor at TSU

Alyssa Rockers stands in front of a Tennessee State University sign on their campus.


Congratulations to recent graduate Dr. Alyssa Rockers ’22 PhD who has been hired as an assistant professor of agricultural media and communications at Tennessee State University.
Rockers graduated earlier this month with a doctorate in agricultural communication, education, and leadership during our summer commencement ceremony.

Rex works as safari tour guide

Bradi Rex and Mrs. Ramsier in front of the safari bus.

Rex and Ramsier


Bradi Rex, a sophomore studying agriscience education, worked at The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio as a tour guide.

Rex drove the open air safari bus while giving a fun filled tour about various endangered and extinct in the wild exotic animals. The mission of The Wilds is to lead and inspire by connecting people and wildlife.

She even had a few ACEL faces on a tour this summer, as Mrs. Ramsier, ACEL program coordinator at Ohio State ATI, and Dr. Filson, associate professor of agriscience education, visited with their families.

While students majoring in agriscience education complete their internship requirement through field experiences, many students gain additional educational opportunities like this one to broaden the knowledge about food, agricultural, and environmental sciences.

Kraus defends master’s project

Screenshot of Mary Rodriguez, Jera Niewoehner-Green and Erika Kraus.


Congratulations to Erika Kraus on the successful defense of her master’s project “Addressing Gender Inequality in Morocco through Partnership with a Women’s Cooperative.”

Dr. Jera Niewoehner-Green, assistant professor of community leadership, served as Erika’s advisor. Dr. Mary Rodriguez, associate professor of community leadership, was her committee member.

Congratulations Erika!

Mellott attends AFA institute

Lauren Mellott in front of a field in California.
Lauren Mellott, a junior studying agriscience education, recently attended the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Crop Science Institute in Sacramento, California.
Mellott was selected from a national pool of applicants to attend. While in California, she had the opportunity to network with a variety of professionals, companies, and young leaders in the industry, as well as experience diversity in crops, ideas and individuals in California and around out country.
A group of AFA participants in front of a field and mountain range in California.
Mellott’s participation in the educational experience will provide her with knowledge and experiences to share in her own agricultural education classroom.