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.


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