Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Ryan J. Schmiesing ’95, ’98 MS, ’02 PhD

Ryan J. Schmiesing is a three time graduate of our department, completing his BS, MS and PhD degrees in agricultural education in 1995, 1998 and 2002, respectively. Following graduation, he served as an extension agent for 4-H Youth Development in Darke County, Ohio. Schmiesing currently serves as the vice provost for strategic planning and implementation at the Office of Academic Affairs at the Ohio State University.

Why did you chose to major in agricultural education for your undergraduate and graduate degrees?
I found, after some searching, the agricultural education provided me the greatest opportunity to explore my interests and passions.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
The breath of what Ohio State offers provides for so many options; that was especially important for someone who did not know exactly what he wanted to pursue at that time.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
Pursuing a degree in agricultural education with an emphasis in extension education provided me with a strong foundation that I was able to immediately put to work. As I progressed in my undergraduate degree program and then on to my graduate degrees, I knew that I wanted to remain engaged in community and higher education. I have always felt that we have a responsibility, in higher education, to further engage our communities and individuals.

As a student, how were you involved on campus?
I was a member of the Agricultural Education Society; member of Delta Theta Sigma Fraternity where I served as president; member of the Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) where I served as chief justice; and served as chair of the Agricultural Recognition Banquet in 1995.

What class did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
As an undergraduate, I enjoyed methods of teaching agriculture with Dr. Jamie Cano; I think it was the first time that I felt I could really apply what I was learning.  In graduate school, I most enjoyed the research series taught in the department – it was there that I had the great fortune of learning from some of the very best faculty!

Name a faculty member who impacted your education and/or career.
Dale Safrit had a very significant impact on my education and career.  While I only had one course as an undergraduate student with Dale, he pushed me in that course and then subsequently was involved in my masters and PhD program very significantly.  Always pushing and encouraging me to do the unexpected!

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
There are too many!  My favorite memories are around different activities or events…trips to National FFA Convention, preparing for the Ag Recognition Banquet, and fraternity functions.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development in Darke County Ohio.

For what schools, companies and/or organizations have you worked throughout your career and what were your responsibilities in those positions?
Ohio State University (1996-2007)
Extension Agent, Program Coordinator, Program Director, Extension Specialist, Interim Regional Director, and Co-Interim State 4-H Leader.

United State Department of Agriculture (2007-2009)
National Program Leader, 4-H Mission Mandates

Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism (2009-2011)
Director of Programs, AmeriCorps State

Ohio State University (2011- current)
Director, Marketing and Communications; Assistant Dean; and currently Vice Provost

During your career, honors or awards have you been presented?
I have received the Achievement in Service Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of 4-H Youth Development.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
My leadership role in the design, construction, and opening of the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, the universities first LEED certified building.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Get to know the faculty that teach your courses. And, take advantage of opportunities the university offers, but don’t over commit yourself!

What did ACEL cultivate in you? How?
In the classroom and in student organizations, I gained self-confidence to clearly articulate a position, share information or represent an idea or concept.  These skills have been invaluable to me as I progress in my career.



Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Annie Specht ’08, ’10 MS

 Dr. Annie Specht graduated in 2008 with her bachelors degree in agricultural communication. She went onto complete a master’s degree in agricultural and extension education, while working as a graduate teaching assistant, in 2010. Specht is now an assistant professor of agricultural communication in the our department

[ACEL]: Hello Dr. Specht! Why did you choose to major in agricultural communication?
[Specht]: As a kid, I’d always loved words, and I dreamed of being a writer or journalist. I was editor of my high school magazine and discovered a passion for feature writing and graphic design. At the same time, I was helping my parents on our small dairy farm, taking part in 4-H, and traveling around the country on the Ohio 4-H dairy judging team. I wanted to find a college major that combined my interest in writing and design with my background in agriculture, and I found it in the agricultural communication program at Ohio State!

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
Though my parents will tell you otherwise, I really didn’t have a choice of where to go to college. The Ohio State University is a family tradition: I’m a fourth-generation OSU graduate on my mother’s side, and a third-generation Buckeye on my father’s. My parents met in the dairy science program. My sister and brother both have degrees from Ohio State. I grew up going to football games at the ‘Shoe. By the time my older sister was a student, I knew exactly where I wanted to go to school.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
My undergraduate education helped me learn a lot about what I wanted to do professionally. My news writing classes taught me that I was never meant to be a hard-news reporter, and my design classes taught me that graphic design was both a potential career path and a creative outlet I enjoyed. I was an Honors student, so I had to complete a research project, which led to my interest in research and, eventually, graduate school at Ohio State and Texas A&M University.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
I was a member of Buckeye Dairy Club, Student-Alumni Council, the Ohio State Makio yearbook staff, and Ohio State University Ambassadors. I competed as a member of the Ohio State Dairy Judging Team. I was also linked into the 101st class of Sphinx Senior Class Honorary and studied abroad through the English department.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
My favorite classes were always the design courses, or other classes where I got to flex my creative muscles. The AGRCOMM capstone, the AgriNaturalist course, was probably my very favorite, because you got to create something from scratch and see and hold the finished product at the end.

What professor had an impact on your education?
Dr. Emily Buck joined the ACEL faculty during my junior year of college, and she was assigned as my Honors research advisor. She encouraged me to continue my education – I completed a master of science degree at Ohio State with Dr. Buck as my advisor – and to eventually join the academic profession. We now work together in the AGRCOMM program, and she has been a continual support and source of inspiration in my career in higher education.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
I stuck around for an extra two years of graduate school, so it’s hard to choose among six years’ worth of memories! I’d have to say my favorite memory was Linking Day for Sphinx. My sister was in Columbus to defend her graduate thesis, and she took me out for coffee that Friday morning before I reported for a campus tour. I was ambushed by a group of students in caps and gowns, who read a list of my accomplishments in Starbucks while my sister laughed at me. My linking year was also the centennial year for Sphinx, so my class was treated to a black-tie celebration attended by tried Links and campus luminaries. It was an amazing weekend!

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State and what other positions have you held throughout your career??
After I graduated with my B.S. and B.A. from Ohio State, I enrolled as a Master’s program in ACEL and worked as a graduate teaching assistant. I taught recitations for what is now AGRCOMM 2367.

After leaving Ohio State, I completed a Ph.D. program at Texas A&M University, where I was a graduate teaching and research assistant. I taught and TA’d courses from graphic design and feature writing to public relations and television production. I then worked for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an assistant professor, where I taught courses in public speaking and PR, before returning to Ohio State. Now I teach several of our print production courses, including the AGRCOMM capstone; advise undergraduate and graduate students; and serve as the undergraduate program coordinator for our major.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
The highlight of my teaching career came in my second year at Ohio State, when one of our graduating seniors invited me to the CFAES Recognition Banquet as her mentor. My favorite part of my job is helping students achieve their dreams, and being recognized as someone who helped do just that meant the world to me.

What advice would you give to a current student?
My advice to current students is to try something that makes you a little bit afraid. If you’ve never traveled before, study abroad. Take (a few!) classes that don’t have anything to do with your major, just to learn something new. Join a campus organization that doesn’t cater specifically to CFAES students. College is one of the few times in life that we get to test ourselves in a safe environment, and I think students should take advantage of the opportunities Ohio State offers.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
ACEL cultivated in me a passion for teaching and research, two things I never anticipated doing as a career.

Annie (center) with her family at her PhD graduation at Texas A&M University.


Graduation day in 2008 with college friends.


Dr. Specht with Dr. Buck at an ACT outreach event on the Ohio State campus.


Dr. Specht listening to students present on digital visualization of research.

Industry in the News


Ag education: The one profession where you gain a family

TALL educates agriculture leaders to meet present, future challenges


It passed me by, and I am okay with it

‘You assume we don’t cry for our animals’ – young farmer calls for respect from activists


Ohio Cattlemen’s Association honors family farms

Corn clean up continues, Ohio 571 still closed days later


Ohio salutes 125 historic farms in 2017

Farewell, FSA Andy


Electrostatic Spraying Grows in South American Agriculture

Program providing help to agricultural producers

Alumni Spotlight: Brooke Rieke Schanowski ’16

Brooke Rieke Schanowski joined the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership from her hometown of Winfield, Illinois in 2014. Just three years later, Rieke Schanowski graduated with her bachelors degree in agricultural communication in 2016 and became the the on-air meteorologist and reporter at WMBD/WYZZ TV in her home state of Illinois.

[ACEL]: Hi Brooke! Why did you chose to major in agricultural communication at Ohio State?
[Rieke Schanowski]: Going to college, I knew I wanted a program that was going to best prepare me to be a meteorologist. When most people hear that I studied agricultural communication, they’re often confused. Honestly, I could not have picked a better program. Not only did I learn how weather impacts agriculture, but I also learned how to communicate complex topics in normal conversation. I fell in love with the Buckeye spirit when I visited. The atmosphere of the campus was infections. Everyone was friendly and happy to be a part of a long-running tradition.

How did your education at Ohio State prepare you for your career?
It helped me learn that I did want to be a meteorologist. With having two internship experiences (one at ABC 7 Chicago and one at NBC 4 Columbus) I learned exactly what happens on a daily basis at a news station. And the classes I took not only helped me learn certain information, but it made me apply it to real-life situations.

In addition to internships and classes, how did you stay busy on campus?
I was a CFAES Ambassador, Buckeye Book Community Selection Committee, Media, Marketing, and Communications (MMC) Scholars Program, Real Life, and a CFAES office assistant.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
My all-time favorite class was photography with Dr. Buck. First and foremost, I learned A LOT! I loved working on my homework assignments, getting out of my comfort zones and taking pictures of different subjects. But I think my favorite part of the class was the underlying lesson; looking at the world from a different vantage point. Taking pictures, I truly was able to appreciate the beauty of the material. And that’s why to this day I can never pass up taking a picture of a sunset over a cornfield or a forest frosted with the year’s first fresh snow. I also enjoyed Nicole Kraft’s journalism class and Tom Stewart’s public speaking class.

What professor had an impact on your education?
Dr. Buck had the biggest impact on me. She was just a down-to-earth individual that was truly passionate about what she does. The number one thing I learned was that if you’re passionate about something, nothing will get in your way of reaching for the stars.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
I probably didn’t know it at the time, but my favorite memory was when the CFAES Ambassador Team went on enrichment trips. The amount I learned on those trips to California and Arizona regarding the variety of agricultural practices throughout our country; it was incredible. And being placed in an environment that was completely different than the Midwest, it was very interesting to learn all about it. And from those trips, I know not to take anything for granted. Because every place in the world has its challenges, but it’s how you experience it that makes all the difference.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
My first job (which is also my current job) was an on-air meteorologist/reporter for WMBD/WYZZ TV in Peoria, Illinois.

How are you involved in the community outside of your career?
For me, it’s important to be involved in the community so that I know the faces of those who watch my broadcasts. My main one is that I volunteer with Goodwill and I am a Goodwill GoodGuide. Every Monday, I meet with a group of students and talk to them about how their week went. We go over important lessons that are pertinent to their lives. Whether it’s job skills, self-confidence or dealing with a difficult situation, we talk about these life events in order to grow as a group.

During your career, honors or awards have you been presented?
I have received Employee of the Month… woo!

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
Oof… that’s a doozy. There are a few that stand out. But seeing that I am a Chicago Cubs fan, it has to be around our World Series coverage. Fortunately, since we’re an Illinois TV station, we got to do coverage of the World Series for our channel. The day after the World Series win, I got to do a story with a woman who has a special Cubs chair in memory of her late husband. And just talking to her about what that win meant to her, was very special.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Do something you love. I’m sure you hear that all the time, but seriously, do something you love. Even if you’re passionate about something that you don’t think you can make into your career, try to incorporate it into some aspect of your life. Because I am truly blessed that I get to go to work, and I love (almost) every minute of it.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
It may be silly to say, but ACEL has cultivated the Buckeye spirit in me. And for someone who didn’t go to Ohio State, they wouldn’t understand what that means. Let me elaborate. That Buckeye spirit has shown me to work hard for your passion. It has taught me to have a friendly personality and contagious energy. And most importantly, it has shown me how to be proud of what you have accomplished, and what you continue to strive for.


Brooke and fellow CFAES ambassadors pose for a picture during an Enrichment Trip to California’s Yosemite National Park.

News coverage doesn’t stop for the weather.

Following a segment with Disney on Ice.

Industry in the News


Dicamba training opportunities in Ohio

FFA Members Return From Cultural Experience in South Africa


Farm bill on top of U.S. Congress’ ‘to-do’ list

A stunning success story for farmers in social media


Gates Foundation grant will help improve nutrition, food safety and child health

Oke: Increased Funding for Bank of Agriculture will Boost Farming


Young ranchers taking industry reins

Local ag leaders attend farm convention in Nashville


TB update: More herds being tested after the disease was found in Tripp County, S.D.

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Tracy Kitchel ’98, ’99 MS

Dr. Tracy Kitchel graduated from Ohio State with his undergraduate degree in agricultural education in 1998 and his masters in agricultural education in 1999. Shortly after graduation, he became an agricultural educator and FFA advisor for Archbold High School in Fulton County. These days, Kitchel is a professor and chair for the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education and Leadership (ACEL) at the Ohio State University.

[ACEL]: Why did you select your major or graduate program?
[Kitchel]: I started my undergraduate career as an agricultural communication major. I was drawn to that work because I had recently been elected as the State FFA Reporter, which, at the time, meant I was working with our magazine, Ohio FFA News. Throughout the year, however, I was drawn to working with FFA members and found it rewarding. The decision to change my major was solidified when I worked at the past state FFA officer session at Ohio FFA Camp; I knew I wanted to work with students.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
I’m not certain I thought of any other place. I knew I wanted to be in agriculture and I felt attending Ohio State was the clear choice. Even though I had been on campus for various reasons, I didn’t even do an official campus visit (something I don’t recommend, but it worked out for me).

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
I wouldn’t be on this path had it not been for Ohio State. In particular, it was with my advisor, Dr. Jamie Cano, who insisted I do a literature review as an undergraduate, which would lead to my master’s thesis the following year. He planted the seeds that I needed to get my Ph.D. and be a professor. He assigned a student teacher for me to serve as cooperating teacher because he felt that experience would be invaluable as a teacher educator (and it was). He connected me with one of his former Ph.D. students, Dr. Bryan Garton, which led to me studying at the University of Missouri for my Ph.D.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student (student organizations, honoraries, campus jobs, Greek life, etc.):
I was president, secretary and banquet co-chair of Agricultural Education Society, a member of Alpha Tau Zeta (now FarmHouse) fraternity, president of Phalanx (the college student organization that soon-after morphed into the CFAES Ambassadors), and served as co-chair and narrator of the College Recognition Banquet.  On campus, I worked as a Night Assistant in the Scott/Norton House Dorms and worked for the Ag Safety program in what is now FABE department. Off campus, I was an Ohio FFA intern, worked at Ohio FFA Camp two summers, and served as an office page for the Ohio Senate. I did my early field experience and student teaching both at Versailles High School with Dena Wuebker.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State? What was your favorite and why?
My favorite courses were my ag comm and ag ed classes. I still use what I learned from Dr. Paulson’s AGRCOMM 200 and 300 courses today.  My teacher preparation courses were great. I felt prepared as a teacher because of them. For the most part, there was a cohort of us that progressed through to student teaching. We laughed a great deal over the years. Our teaching labs were particularly comical, yet did a great job preparing us for the realities of teaching.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education?
As I shared before, Dr. Jamie Cano had the most impact on my career. I also appreciate the patience Dr. Jan Henderson afforded me, even when I didn’t always deserve said patience. It’s that kind of grace I’ve attempted to share with my own students even when said grace is not easy to give. I also appreciated how deeply intentional Dr. Hedges was in his teaching. That intentionality is something I always strive toward in my own teaching.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
I have so many great memories. I developed a great group of friends (time and change has surely shown…). We all bonded over football games – I still get emotional when I go to the games.  Again, we had great times as a student teaching cohort. I really enjoyed student organizations and be a part of campus.  I could go on and on.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
After graduating with my B.S. in ag ed, I started my M.S. in ag ed and was a graduate associate for AGRCOMM 390 (now 3130). After that, my first “out of college” job was as agriculture teacher and FFA advisor for Archbold High School in Fulton County (Ohio).

What positions have you held since graduating and where have you worked?
I moved around a bit over my 18 years after leaving Ohio State.  After being an ag teacher at Archbold High School. I was a graduate assistant and Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri. After graduating, my first faculty position was as an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky (UK).  I left UK after 5 years and became associate professor and director of graduate studies for the Department of Agricultural Education and Leadership at the University of Missouri (MU). At the end of my time at MU, I served as assistant vice provost for graduate and postdoctoral affairs where I served as the secondary leader for the Office of Graduate Studies (other places called the Graduate School). In particular, l was in charge of areas and programs such as campus fellowships, student-faculty issues, the campus TA training and development of our directors of graduate studies. In August 2016, I returned to Ohio State to be Professor and Chair of ACEL.

I’ve spent most of my career in higher education and in those professor roles, have taught courses from teaching methods, research methods and introduction to leadership. I’ve conducted research on pre-service and early career agriculture teachers. Finally, I provide service in working related to agricultural education, agriculture teachers and FFA.

Share any awards or honors you have received over the years
Some of my more meaningful awards include the USDA Excellence in Teaching Award (Early Career Award), North Central AAAE Distinguished Teacher and Distinguished Researcher Awards, Gold Chalk Award (University of Missouri) for excellence in graduate teaching, Joe T. Davis Outstanding Advisor (University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture), OAAE Outstanding Young Ag Teacher Award, Honorary American FFA Degree and CFAES Alumni Young Professional Award.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
In a truly authentic way, my favorite career highlight was the opportunity to return to my home department and serve as its chair.  Up there on the list, in a far less serious way, is having presided over the master’s degree ceremonies at the University of Missouri when I was Assistant Vice Provost. I have to admit – that was cool. (At Ohio State, we have one ceremony per term and the university president presides over all those ceremonies throughout the year – that’s not typical, by the way).

What advice would you give to a current student?
Don’t wait to be invited – find ways to take charge of your own career by getting involved and meeting people different than you.  Find ways to really become self-aware of who you are. I credit my experiences at Ohio State in helping me do that and it wasn’t always easy. Balance your out-of-class learning with your in-class learning (both are valuable). And study abroad – I really have only one major regret and that was it. I had to wait years into my career to travel internationally.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
My engagement with ACEL has cultivated so much in me and continues to do so now that I’ve returned home. The overarching theme is that ACEL cultivated my potential, even when I didn’t think I could do any better.  The surprising thing is that even as chair, I still feel like the department continues to push and invest in me even when I feel it’s my job to do that for others.

Kitchel’s family, following wife Laura’s graduation with her PhD from the University of Missouri.


Kitchel (second from right) at the CFAES Recognition Program in 1998 with other “Top 10 Seniors”.


Kitchel with advisor Dr. Jamie Cano.

Speaking at a CFAES event as chair of ACEL.

Alumni Spotlight: Sam Custer ’81, ’84 MS

Sam Custer graduated from Ohio State with his undergraduate degree in agricultural education in 1981 and his masters in agricultural education in 1984. Shortly after graduation, he became a teacher of agricultural education at Versailles Exempted Village Schools. These days, Custer is an agriculture and natural resources educator for Ohio State Extension in Darke County.

[ACEL]: Hi Sam! You majored in agricultural communication. What influenced you to choose that major?
[Custer]: I chose agricultural education because of my two high school ag teachers.  The late Bill Hershberger and Bill Klepinger.  They have been a huge influence on my life.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
Bill Klepinger took me to Ohio State’s campus and we met with Dr. Jim Knight.  There was not really any other thoughts about any other place.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
The plan was to always get my ag teaching license and to teach agriculture.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
I was in Agricultural Education Society, but was not as active as I should have been.  I spent a lot of time working for Connie Rice and others in the Department of Agricultural Education office as a work study student and also participated in intramurals.

What were some of your favorite classes?
I really enjoyed all of my agricultural education classes but also got a lot out of the ag economics classes.

What faculty or staff members had an impact on your education?
There were many and it would not be fair to single any one person out.  Dr. L.H. Newcomb, Dr. McCracken, Dr. Starling, Connie Rice and all of the Ph.D. candidates back in their office, especially Stacy Gartin.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
Dr. Newcomb and Dr. Plimpton’s classes.  Master teachers in action.

Throughout your career, what positions have you held?
Ohio State University Extension
August 2012 to present – Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Darke County
July 15 to March 31, 2018 – Nutrient Stewardship for Cleaner Water Signature Program Leader

Miami Valley Career Technology Center
July 1998 to March 31, 2012 – Director of Personnel / Asst. Superintendent
Summer 2000 and 2005-06 – Interim Business Manager
August 1997 to June 1998 – South Building Director/Principal
July 1994 to August 1997 – Agricultural Education Supervisor / VEPD Liaison
April 1996 – Interim West Building Principal

The Ohio State University
July 1987 to 1997 – Adjunct Instructor in Agricultural Education

Versailles Exempted Village Schools
July 1981 to June 1994 – Teacher of Agricultural Education

Please share any careers or honors you have received throughout your career.
Ohio Agriculture Teach of the Year
National Ag Teacher of the Year
Honorary State and National FFA degrees
Ohio Agriculture and Natural Resources Achievement

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
Making a difference in a person’s life, no matter if they are 16 of 61.

What advice would you give to a current student studying agriscience education or extension education?
Make the most of your college experience.  Take advantage of the people you interact with to learn from them.

What did ACEL cultivate in you? How?
The confidence to share the experiences I have had.


Industry in the News


Culver’s Thank You Farmers donated $1.7M+ to ag education

Educational program being offered for women in ag


President Trump talks directly to Rural America at AFBF Convention

Olympic gold medalist inspires farmers


Tractor Supply launches 3rd annual FFA Grants for Growing

Research outlines interconnected benefits of urban agriculture


Hancock County Agriculture Hall of Fame nominations being taken

Ohio farm couple wins American Farm Bureau Excellence in Agriculture Award


Iowa’s pork industry

Robb: Livestock outlook positive for 2018

Alumni Spotlight, Melanie Wilt ’98

[ACEL]: Hi Melanie! Why did you select agricultural communication as your major?
[Wilt]: My high school biology teacher assigned a paper to write about a career in science and interview a professional in the field. My dad suggested I speak with his former fraternity brother (Tim Reeves, then editor of Ohio’s Country Journal). After an hour on the phone, I hung up and said “People really get paid to talk about farming?” My first agricultural communication class was awesome and I went back to the dorm every day chattering about what I learned to my roomies. It turned out to be exactly the right path for me!

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
My parents are Ohio State alums, and all four of the kids in my immediate family are now alums. I
didn’t even apply anywhere else!

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
Ohio State provided a ton of opportunities and a network I couldn’t have imagined being a kid from a high school graduating class of 57. It provided me a global perspective and built on a passion for agriculture that was there from a young age. The connections that I still have from OSU are now colleagues, clients, mentors and friends.

How were you involved on campus as a student?
The extracurricular activities I gleaned the most from were internships and work experiences, especially at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Science’s (CFAES) Department of Communications and Technology, where part of my job was to manage media for Farm Science Review. In addition, I was involved in Ag Communicators of Tomorrow and developed a national network in my industry, including a lifelong friend who was an ag comm major at Michigan State.  I was a member of honoraries, such as Phalanx and Chimes.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
My favorite classes were of course the agricultural communication major classes, but I also learned a great deal from animal nutrition and a comparative politics class on central campus. That began the groundwork for my political career many years later! And, of course I’ve used the skills I learned in my food science wines class – both when I worked as chief of markets at ODA and as a hobby!

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education?
Dr. Ann Hollifield was my freshman advisor and was only at Ohio State for a short time, but she had a tremendous impact on my excitement for the field of agricultural communication. She encouraged me to learn about broadcast journalism and to take a couple political science classes. While I didn’t pursue broadcasting beyond college, it certainly prepared me for a career in public relations.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
I was Media Relations Manager for the Ohio Florists’ Association, which is now AmericanHort.

What different positions have you had throughout your career?
AmericanHort (formerly OFA), Ohio Department of Agriculture (in several different roles), Avetec,  Shift•ology Communication (formerly Wilt PR), and Clark County as an elected commissioner.

During your career, have you received any awards or honors?
Small Business of the Year from the Greater Springfield Chamber, 40 Under 40 from the Dayton Business Journal, Young Alumni Achievement Award from CFAES, many NAMA and PRSA awards, and earned my APR (Accreditation in Public Relations)

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
Starting my own business took a lot of guts and some sleepless nights, but I’m so glad I took the risk. It has paid off and then some!

What advice would you give to a current student?
It’s not about the money! Choose a career path that you love and are qualified for, and the rest will come together as you gain experience. You’ll be amazed what you can achieve in just a few short years in the “real world.” Oh, and do a volunteer internship – it could lead to your first paid internship.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
An appreciation for different perspectives and a means to channel my intense passion for agriculture into something productive and enjoyable.

Three Weeks Left to Apply to Ohio State (for Autumn 2018!)

Dear future college student –

Deciding which college to go to is one of the more difficult decisions you will make during your young adult years. Many people look at college in different ways, but I am certainly glad I chose The Ohio State University as the college I would attend.

Melanie (right) and a friend cheer on the Buckeyes at a football game this past season.

My name is Melanie Fuhrmann. I am a current student at Ohio State majoring in community leadership. As a triplet, my decision of colleges was slightly more difficult than others; I had to decide if I wanted to leave my brothers or go where I knew I should go.

Ohio State isn’t just another college, it is a family. You will come to know that there are Buckeyes all over the world and they will support you in everything you do. I went on a service trip called BUCK-I-SERV and had the opportunity to meet alumni all the way in Louisiana that wanted to hear all about my college experiences and help any way they could.

Ohio State will never disappoint you if you decide to attend. It is a huge community, comprised of people who want to help you. You will always be a Buckeye, and will always have that connection with your Buckeye community throughout your life.

The deadline to apply for admission to the Columbus campus of Ohio State is February 1, 2018 – just three weeks from today! Don’t delay in completing your application.

Go Buckeyes!
Melanie ’22
community leadership major


P.S. If you haven’t already visited campus, schedule an “Experience Ohio State for a Day” visit to learn more about the majors of agricultural communication, agriscience education and community leadership. Schedule your visit at