Where Are They Now: Jared Coppess


“After graduation I spent one year working at Walt Disney World in Orlando,”
-Jared Coppess

Jared Coppess, an agricultural communication graduate in 2003, went to work for Disney World using his skills he gained from his minor in landscape horticulture. He worked for the horticulture department and was responsible for the identification and treatment of plant materials at many of the parks, including the theme park and its designated hotel areas.

After a year spent in Florida, Jared spent some time working at a landscaping company in Greenville, Ohio, and then moved to Indiana where he joined the staff of the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn in Indianapolis. As the state corn checkoff was just beginning, Jared’s role was to promote the program to farmers and the grain industry, as well as lobby at the local, state, and federal levels. Before leaving Indiana to return to Ohio, Jared served as the public affairs director for both the corn and soybean organizations, covering the checkoff programs and membership organizations where he developed several successful programs including an Indiana Policy Forum and the Ohio River Barge Tour.

Today, Jared is the District Administrator for the Darke Soil & Water Conservation District and farms with his dad and brother on the side. Jared says that his current role combines two of his passions- agriculture and conservation. He works with local and state leaders to address conservation needs and issues in Darke County. He enjoys interacting with farmers and students to educate them on practices they can implement to improve their soil health.

When he isn’t in the combine, Jared enjoys watching football and cheering on the Buckeyes with his family. He and wife Annette have 3 children- Graham is in the first grade, Colin is in his second year of preschool, and their youngest, Evelyn, turned one this past spring. Also part of the family is an 8 month old golden retriever named Layla.

Jared Coppess, wife Annette, and their three children: Graham, Colin, and Evelyn

Jared Coppess, wife Annette, and their three children: Graham, Colin, and Evelyn

When asked what advice to students he had, Jared replied- “My advice for students would be to enjoy their time at OSU. The campus, university and ag college have a lot of great things to offer.  Be ready and available to take advantage of them as they come your way. Networking is essential as you move forward in your career, expand your network while in Columbus.  You will be amazed how small the ag community really is once you get into your career. And finally, participate in a study abroad program.  I was fortunate enough to study at Myerscough College for a summer in England.  It was an amazing experience and I made some lifelong friends and memories.  Seek these opportunities out while at OSU!”

Ohio State Priority Deadline Approaches


November 1, 2016 is the priority deadline for students wishing to apply for admission to The Ohio State University for Autumn Semester 2017. Just one week from today!

This deadline is extremely important for students wishing to be considered for university merit scholarships, as well as honors and scholars programs. The final deadline to apply for admission is February 1, 2017.

To start or complete the application, visit apply.osu.edu.

ACEL Students earn American Degree

The Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership had 26 students receive their American Degree at the 2016 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana this past weekend.

The American FFA Degree is awarded to members who have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to FFA and made significant accomplishments in their supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs). Approximately 3,500 American FFA Degrees are handed out each year at the National FFA Convention. That number represents less than half of one percent of all FFA members, making it one of the organizations highest honors. In addition to their degree, each recipient receives a gold American FFA Degree key.

Those students from our Department who received this honor include:

Agricultural Communication
Mindi Brookhart, Waynesfield Goshen FFA
Joanna Lininger, Mohawk FFA
Michaela Kramer, Botkins FFA
Devin Roth, Cory Rawson FFA

Agriscience Education
Kelse Brown, Edgerton FFA
Blake Campbell, Waterford FFA
Kristen Eisenhauer, Shelby FFA
Katie Fath, Firelands FFA
Connor Frame, Meadowbrook FFA
Katrina Harper, Caldwell FFA
Thomas Hoover, Sentinel Vocational Center FFA
Veronica Johnson, Georgetown FFA
Wyatt Jones, Greenfield McClain FFA
Sarah Landis, Valley View FFA
Cody McClain, Upper Sandusky FFA
Micah Mensing, Oak Harbor FFA
Savannah Miller, Blanchester FFA
Abigale Motter, Crestview-Ashland FFA
Amanda Seger, Fort Loramie FFA
Ellyse Shafer, Clear Fork Valley FFA
Emily Starlin, Logan FFA
Morgan Stoner, Elgin FFA
Adam Wagner, Ridgemont FFA
Kayla Walls, Parkway FFA
Sam Wander, Clearfork Valley FFA

Community Leadership
Sarah Bookman, Hillsdale FFA

Sydney’s retiring address

On Thursday, October 20, agricultural communication student Sydney Snider gave her retiring address as an officer for the National FFA Organization. Snider has served as Eastern Region Vice-President since November 2015.

Her retiring address, “See Hope, Be Hope”, is available for viewing on the FFA Pulse website.


Picture taken from National FFA Facebook


Picture taken from National FFA Facebook

Congratulations Sydney! You did a fantastic job delivering your retiring address.

Where Are They Now: Melinda Witten


Having worked with Farm Bureau for more than ten years now, agriscience education graduate Melinda Witten still loves her job working within Ohio’s agricultural industry.

As a student at Ohio State, Melinda started her experience with Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) as a freshman, where she began her interning journey that continued through all four years of her undergraduate studies. Loving the organization, she knew that OFBF was where she wanted to spend her career once she “grew up.”

After graduating in 2007, Melinda spent her first two years post-college as the organization director in northwestern Ohio before transitioning to a new role training county office staff statewide.

Today Melinda still works for Farm Bureau, but her role has changed to the director of leadership programming. Overseeing the Young Ag Professionals and AgriPOWER Leadership Institute programs, Melinda gets to work with young professionals, farmers, and leaders in the ag industry from all across the state. To quote Melinda about her current role, she is enthusiastic and says, “I LOVE IT!”

Having once been a student aspiring to work in the agricultural industry herself, Melinda has advice to students-

“Be open to any and all options. I know that sounds a little odd coming from a person who has only worked for one employer, but I thought I only wanted to be an organization director. Through time, I learned that I needed to be open to opportunities that came my way. Man, I am glad I did. I am in my dream role.”

She also advises students to meet and connect with as many industry leaders as possible, sharing your vision and goals with them. By sharing your passions with them, they will be able to work with you and connect you with the right individuals to help make your visions a reality.

Melinda Witten

Melinda Witten

When she isn’t working for Farm Bureau, Melinda spends her time at home being a farm wife and mother. Meeting her husband in plant biology class at Ohio State, she used the pickup line, “I really like your sweet corn,” referring to the Witten Farm sweatshirt he was wearing. Happily married now with two children, Melinda is now an active part of Witten Farm, and helps to pick produce (including sweet corn) on the nearly 500 acres of produce that is sold in over 22 retail stands throughout Ohio.

Leaving students with one last bit of advice, Melinda says, “Your work ethic and attitude will be the biggest factors in your success. Study really, really hard in college but don’t forget to have a little (a lot!!) of fun while you are there.”


Meet the Faculty: Tracy Kitchel

Although just recently hired to the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership as a professor and the chair of the department, Dr. Kitchel is anything but the new kid on the block. Before graduating with both his bachelor’s and

1998 Top 10 Seniors of CFAES

1998 Top 10 Seniors of CFAES

master’s degrees from The Ohio State University in 1998 and 1998 respectively, Dr. Kitchel was an active and involved student. His resume included being the president of Ag Ed Society, the president of Phalanx (today known as CFAES ambassadors), and a brother of Alpha Tau Zeta, (now FarmHouse Fraterntiy, ATZ Chapter), just to name a few.

After graduation in 1999 Dr. Kitchel spent a few years teaching agriculture and serving as the FFA advisor at Archbold High School where he met his wife Laura, who at the time was the choir teacher across the hall.

2013 National FFA Board of Directors

2013 National FFA Board of Directors

Returning back to school to earn his PhD in agricultural education from the University of Missouri in 2002, Dr. Kitchel then spent the next decade teaching both undergraduate and graduate classes, serving as director of graduate studies, as well as serving as assistant vice provost for graduate and postdoctoral affairs. His work took him to the University of Kentucky as well as back to the University of Missouri.

“When I had the opportunity to return home in a role allowing me to provide leadership for a department where I fell in love with higher education, I jumped at the chance. My career has come full circle from Ohio to Missouri to Kentucky back to Missouri and now back to Ohio,” Kitchel said.

Growing up on a hog and crops farm in northern Preble County, Dr. Kitchel was involved in 4-H and FFA. He attributes this background as being the guiding factor of pursing a career in agricultural education. To students, Dr. Kitchel advises to get involved in as much as you can and to study abroad, as travel will never be this affordable at any other time in your life. While grades are important, he is a firm believer that there is a lot of learning to be had outside of the classroom.

A movie buff in his spare time, the Dr. Kitchel says his basement is decorated in movie posters such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. For vacation, Tracy and his wife Laura – along with their two daughters Isabel and Violet -love going to Disney World. 

Tracy, wife Laura, and daughters Isabel and Violet at Disneyworld meeting Chewbaca from Star Wars.

Tracy, wife Laura, and daughters Isabel and Violet at Disneyworld meeting Chewbaca from Star Wars.