Melinda McKay Witten graduated from The Ohio State University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. She majored in agricultural and extension education. She came to Columbus in 2003 from her hometown of Stockport, Ohio, but now resides in Beverly, Ohio with her family. She works for Ohio Farm Bureau where she is the Director of Leadership Programming and coordinates the Young Ag Professionals and AgriPOWER Leadership Institute programs.
[ACEL]: Hi Melinda! You majored in agricultural and extension education while at Ohio State. Why did you select that major?
[Witten]: I selected agriculture education because I wanted to be an ag teacher, inspiring students to be involved in the agriculture industry. However, I have never taught in a classroom! Instead, I get to work with wonderful leaders at Ohio Farm Bureau!
Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
From the moment I set foot on campus as high school student, I knew that is where I was meant to be. I LOVED the energy, excitement and opportunities that OSU provided for their students. This was especially true on the CFAES campus! And, it was completely different from my small hometown. I could walk to a Wendy’s!
While at Ohio State, how did the courses you took influence your career path?
I loved the agriculture education classes because we were subjected to a variety of topics. The saying “Jack of all trades, master of none” was very true for my studies at OSU. I loved being exposed to all the subject areas. During my student teaching period, I learned that the traditional ag classroom setting was not for me. I loved it but my true calling was to work for Farm Bureau and their volunteers!
Did you have a favorite class?
While it was the hardest and must frustrating class, I loved agricultural and construction systems management 300-301 with Dr. Lichensteiger. The workload was intense but I still use that information to this day. Anyone who had his class knows about his “green sheet of conversion tables”. That conversion sheet still hangs in my kitchen cupboard today!
We have heard many students say that class was beneficial. I’m glad it was for you too! Outside of the classroom, were you involved in any student organizations?
I was involved in the Agricultural Education Society. I decided to focus my efforts to on one organization while balancing my internships with Ohio Farm Bureau.
What professor had an impact on your time at Ohio State?
I loved working with all the agricultural education staff. Dr. Susie Whittington was very supportive of all of her students and found a way to connect with each one of us.
All alumni have a few memories that stand out the most to them. What is yours?
“How Firm Thy Friendships” is so very true. Many of my fondest memories involve the friends I made at OSU! And I also really love the memory of Ohio State beating *ichigan at the last second to go to the National Championship my senior year (2007).
Following graduation in 2007, what was your first job?
I was the organization director for Ohio Farm Bureau in Logan, Hardin and Wyandot counties.
You started with Ohio Farm Bureau in 2007 and still work there. Have you changed roles?
I have only worked for Ohio Farm Bureau! I have had many roles there over the years before landing at my current one as the Director of Young Ag Professionals and the AgriPOWER Institute.
As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
My favorite highlight is the growth of the Young Ag Professionals program. The program has grown to have over 650 attendees at their Winter Leadership Conference, one of the largest in the nation. And over 49 local YAP programs across the state. I am beyond excited to know that younger folks want to be involved in agriculture!
What advice would you give to a current student?
It is a very small world, especially in agriculture. Always be kind and professional because that reputation will get you further than an A in your hardest classes!
Great advice for our current students. Last question. What did ACEL cultivate in you?
It exposed me to many great connections to the agriculture industry. I didn’t realize it at the time but those connections have remained valuable today!