[ACEL]: Hi Rhonda! You majored in agricultural education. Why did you chose that major?
[Phillips]: My original plan was to use my agricultural education degree and teaching certificate for my fall back career. However, once I completed my 3 week early teaching experience at National Trail High School with Joe Slone, I knew it was my passion. Joe Slone demonstrated what an impact he made with students and was a major influence on my career.
Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
The Ohio State University was the only university to which I applied. I knew that I wanted to major in agriculture and it had an excellent reputation and was the best option for me.
How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
Without Ohio State I wouldn’t be where I am today. It was through the experiences and people that I met during the four years that influenced who I am today.
Tell us what you were involved with as a student.
Attending Ohio State opened so many doors. Involvement with the numerous student organizations included Saddle & Sirloin Club, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow and Agricultural Education Society. Through the organizations’ leadership opportunities, such as holding officer positions and traveling to national conferences, my horizons were expanded. There were several campus jobs that I worked throughout the years including working at the Ohio State Main Library, Ohio State Extension Service and working and living at the Ohio State Equestrian Facility on Sawmill Road. Greek life was also instrumental in developing the skills that I have today. I was a member of Sigma Alpha Agricultural Sorority. It is a bond that is shared when talking with past members and new members. A strong friendship with my Sigma Alpha sisters still exists today.
What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
The agricultural education and agricultural communication classes were my favorite. These were my favorite because they allowed me to communicate and teach about my passion which is agriculture.
Tell us about a professor that had an impact on your education.
There were several individuals that had an impact on my education/career. Dr. Jeff King who was my 4-H Extension Agent during my 4-H years in Clark County influenced me while I worked at the Extension Office at OSU. He was always willing to listen and provided invaluable advice.
Dr. Jamie Cano was instrumental in developing my passion for educating students through his love of teaching. The experiences shared through stories and trips were amazing. We took a trip to Nashville, Tennessee to see other university programs and businesses outside of Ohio.
Dr. Bernie Erven was my agricultural economics professor. Even though this wasn’t one of my favorite subjects, I still remember and share many of the stories he told to help explain economic concepts.
What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
It is difficult to name just one because there are so many. Participating in the Saddle & Sirloin Club’s “Little I” competitions and being selected as “Little I” Queen.
What was your first job following your graduation from Ohio State?
My first job after Ohio State was teaching agriculture education at Tri-Village High School, a satellite program for Miami Valley Career Technology Center.
For what schools, companies and/or organizations have you worked throughout your career?
In 1995 Miami Valley Career Technology Center hired me as a satellite agricultural instructor at Tri-Village High School. Throughout the years my roles have included Professional Development Coordinator, Business, IT Graphics Supervisor, satellite supervisor, and currently Director of Instruction all for Miami Valley Career Technology Center.
During your career, have you received any awards or honors? If so, what are those?
The awards and honors received throughout my career include OAAE District 5 Outstanding Young Member, Hull-Purnell Award for the National Career Pathways Network First Place Winner, and Ohio BPA Honorary Life Membership.
As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
My most favorite career highlight is seeing students succeed. This could be winning an award or hearing from them after they are successful adults.
What advice would you give to a current student?
Take advantage of every opportunity. Make sure to get involved in as many activities. The people you meet will be friends for a lifetime.
What did ACEL cultivate in you? How?
ACEL cultivated a love for learning and a passion for teaching. This passion leads to always keeping the student first. I have kept that as my goal throughout my career in all of the roles that I have served. The professors I had while a student in ACEL had this same passion for students. I am continuing to carry on this tradition.