Talking Shop: What are we learning today, Mr. Teacher Guy?

Throughout the history of agricultural mechanics in education, students have been asking this question has fast as teachers have been trying to figure what objectives to teach in a vocational agriculture program. Because the scope of farm and homework continued to change with different advancements and technologies (i.e. farm machinery and electricity), agriculture teachers have to revise their curriculum in order to keep up-to-date with society. With endless amount of job opportunities in industry, the skills that students have learned in an Ag Mech course has led them to immediate employment after graduation.

Agricultural education programs have always had a strong involvement in their communities, and as a result, their curricula would change based on community needs. Involving the community into the curriculum is a common practice that exist today. Teachers will create an advisory committee that consist of local industry professionals, school administration, FFA members, and other teachers who will helped design a curriculum that best suit for the students living in their communities This is a valuable practice of connecting industry, community, and education.

When I did my first Early Field Experience in agriscience education at Marysville High School, I had the opportunity to observe first-hand an “Advisory Committee Meeting.” This committee consisted of teachers, school administrations, industry professional, and community members, and they collaborate on designing a curriculum and course sequence met the goals of the students and community. This was an incredible opportunity to see the impact that an agricultural education program can have on students when people come together to better education.

Agricultural Mechanics Curriculum in the 1910s
What did students learn in school in the early 20th century? 

Photo Credits: Garland Armor Bricker, 1912

Agricultural Mechanics Curriculum in the 1930-40s
During and after World War II, there was a demand for farmers to increase food production, yet National Defense slowed down production on farm machinery.  This was a challenge that many farmers weren’t prepared for because they were short laborers, functional farm machinery, and knowledge to upkeep and repair their equipment. Vocational agriculture became a pathway for farmers to meet these demands through the offering of “defense classes” or “farm machinery repair clinics,” which were courses offered to local farmers on metalworking, woodworking, electricity, and machinery repair and maintenance. This is the method of deliver the modern-day practices to farmers. Because the teacher developed a connection with the community through these courses, the teacher had a better opportunity to create his own objectives for teaching farm mechanics. A farm mechanics course in the 1930-40s consisted of classroom learning and field experience that allowed students to practice: 

Photo Credits: The Agricultural Education Magazine, 1942


Source: H.T. Shields, The Agricultural Education Magazine, 1937

Agricultural Mechanics Curriculum in the 1970s
As the 1970s began, career technical education focused curriculum in the areas of vocational education, general education, and college preparatory, which prepared ‘youngsters’ for a wide range of job options. Regardless of a student’s educational pathway, people believed it was still vital for students to learn basic agricultural mechanical skills, especially if they were interested in production agriculture.

How was an Ag Mech curriculum taught in the 1970s? What skills were necessary to teach? Wiley B. Lewis, a PhD graduate from The Ohio State University, Department of Agricultural Education in 1972, conducted his research on “Agricultural mechanics as performed on Ohio farms in comparison with offerings in vocational agriculture.” His researched reveal that students were most successful when they were provided with an individualized instruction and curriculum. At first glance, this would seem to be a challenging task for an Ag teacher; however, this practice was successful when integrating student’s individual curriculum with the department’s curriculum and with the student’s Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects. Individualized instruction became a necessity in teaching agricultural mechanics.

A model representing individualized instruction in agricultural education.

Source: Wiley B. Lewis & T.J. Wakeman, The Agricultural Education Magazine, 1973


Examples of Content Priorities in Agricultural Mechanics Source: C. Don Knotts & Earl S. Wobb, The Agricultural Education Magazine, 1974

Agricultural Mechanics Curriculum in the 2010s
During the first 10 years of the 21st century, agricultural education transitions away from Ag Mech and shift their focus on agrisciences. Nevertheless, the pendulum swung back around and Ag Mech became major corner stone in the curriculum. With the growth of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in education in agricultural education, agricultural mechanics had an incredible opportunity to expand their curriculum. Undoubtedly, STEM has always been major pillars in an Ag Mech curriculum.

In today’s modern world in agricultural education, students are learning applications essential to machinery management, structures, soil and water management, and material handling systems. Students are prepared to understand the theory and practical skills needed on production farms. With the rise in agricultural production, sales, and processing, there is a great demand to train students and adult for careers in mechanic technicians.

This is a following description of the “mechanical principles” course taught today in Ohio’s agricultural education:

Students will engage in the mechanical principles utilized in animal and plant production systems. They will learn electrical theory, design, wiring, hydraulic and pneumatic theory, along with metallurgy in relation to hot and cold metals.  Students will apply knowledge of sheet metal fabrication applicable to the agricultural industry along with identify, diagnose, and maintain small air-cooled engines. Throughout the course, students will learn critical components of site and personal safety as well as communication and leadership skills (Ohio Department of Education).

Kids love to weld! Students who want to pursue careers in mechanical principles take multiple courses in order to have skills to enter the workforce. Welding, for example, students have to complete a basic welding course that prepares students in SMAW (stick), Oxyfuel, and MIG and learn to cut metal with Oxy-acetylene and plasma cutter. Once they learn the basic skills, they take advance courses in metal fabrication where they explore concepts like the different variables affecting welding, American Welding Specifications, and the chemistry of metals at a deeper level.

Myself teaching FFA members and pre-service teachers GMAW welding at Ohio FFA Convention

What does the future hold?
The United States is facing large skilled labor shortages, and we are needing people to enter careers in welding, construction, electrical, and much more. The American Welding Society predicts that the industry will need 290,000 people to fill welding job positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor projects that there will be 50,000 new jobs in diesel mechanics. Society will soon be facing the reality that there won’t be enough people to be service technicians for dealerships and welders for manufacturing.

With that, agricultural education is one piece of the puzzle in solving these problems by continuing to teach agricultural mechanics and ‘farm shop’ in their curriculum. Agricultural education is more than capable in preparing secondary education students with the essential knowledge and skills to be career ready and successful in the real world.

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Kamiar Kouzekanani, ’83 Ph.D.

Kamiar Kouzekanani, Ph.D., is a native of Tehran, Iran and a professor of quantitative methods in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC). He has doctoral degrees from both The Ohio State University (Agricultural Education, 1983) and University of Miami (Educational Research, 1988).

His areas of expertise are applied statistics and quantitative research methods.  He has authored and co-authored a large number of peer-reviewed, theory-driven, and data-based journal articles (56, as of July 2017), book chapters (three, as of July 2017), abstracts (three, as of July 2017) and conference papers (27, as of July 2017) and posters (44, as of July 2017) in topics related to educational leadership, reading and language arts, adult education, teacher education, diabetes education, substance abuse, and body composition.

Dr. Kouzekanani was research assistant professor at the University of Miami (1988–1992), School of Nursing’s coordinator of evaluation and research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (1992–1999), and a member of two research teams at the University of Texas at Austin (1999–2004) prior to joining the TAMU-CC faculty in January 2005.

Between 1988 and 2004, he served as the quantitative methodologist in multi-year studies funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Nursing Research, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention at US Department of Health and Human Services, US Army Medical Research and Material Command, and US Department of Education.

At TAMU-CC, in addition to serving on doctoral dissertation committees as either the chair (46, as of July 2017) or the methodologist (52, as of July 2017) and providing the College of Education and Human Development faculty with consultation in the areas of research design and data analysis, Dr. Kouzekanani teaches graduate level courses in applied statistics, quantitative research methods, and dissertation research.  He was the recipient of the 2015 Outstanding Doctoral Mentor at TAMU-CC.

Dr. Kouzekanani is an avid long-distance runner and has run marathons in all 50 states.  At Ohio State, he was mentored by Dr. Larry Miller, whom he still considers as his role model.  He is a longtime member of The Ohio State University Alumni Organization.

Industry in the News


USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Announces Support for Educational, Workforce Development in Agri-Science

Recognizing outstanding agricultural educators


Judging skills to thriving careers

Ohio Beef Expo has a family focus


An Ohio 4-H Celebration

Yoder to speak on 2018 Farm Bill and U.S. agriculture


Meet the game-changing women of pig farming

Two inducted into Agriculture HOF


Dairy Farmers in Crisis: A Community Forum

Compost Bedded Pack Barns Offer Cow Comfort, Higher Production

Alumni Spotlight: Joe Harper ’83 PhD

Dr. Joe Harper, originally of Luray, Virginia, graduated with a doctoral degree in agricultural education in 1983. Following more than 33 years as a college professor of agricultural education, Harper recently retired from the University of Illinois.

[ACEL]:Why did you select your major or graduate program?
[Harper]: All my life, education and professional experiences have been in agriculture. I have dedicated my entire professional career to education about agriculture.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
The dedication of the program towards teaching, research, and service towards teaching and learning for agriculture.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
My graduate program inspired me to pursue a career in college teaching.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
I was fortunate to have a graduate teaching assistantship with Dr. Gliem in the Agricultural Engineering department.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
All of the classes that were related to research methods and analysis because of the aspects and applications of critical thinking and problem-solving.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education/career?
I cannot name just one, Drs. Gliem, McCracken, Newcomb, Warmbrod and Barrick for their guidance, leadership, mentoring and professionalism

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
Attending the department’s social activities with the faculty, staff and other students, such as pregame tailgates.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
I was employed as an instructor at ATI the Agricultural Technical institute in Wooster, Ohio for about a year and half.

For what schools, companies and/or organizations have you worked throughout your career and what were your responsibilities in those positions?
These are the positions and institutions I have had throughout my career

  • 1973-78 Agriculture Teacher, Loudoun Valley High School, Purcellville, Virginia
  • 1978-80 Graduate Teaching Assistant, Penn State University.
  • 1980-83 Graduate Teaching Assistant, Ohio State University.
  • 1983-84 Instructor, Agricultural Technical Institute, Wooster, Ohio
  • 1984-90 Assistant Professor, University of Nevada-Reno
  • 1990-1998 Associate Professor, Clemson University
  • 1998-2017 Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

During your career, honors or awards have you been presented?
I have been recognized on several occasions, the most significant for me was to be honored by undergraduate students for my teaching and advising.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
For the later part of my career I was the program coordinator for the Technical Systems Management degree program.  The undergraduate program grew to more than 200 majors and had the highest employment placement rates and starting salaries the college. During that period we were able to develop and implement a new graduate program with a graduate program option in Professional Sciences.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Your degree program is a means to a career, not an end in itself, work towards a career that you has value to you, focus, and work with dedication.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
Fostering critical thinking, with a foundation in problem-solving, and the perspective that it is not what you know, but what you are able to do.




Meredith Oglesby Participates in 2018 BuckeyeThon

Meredith Oglesby

Agricultural Communication Student

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” – Howard Zinn

I could not find a more perfect quote to describe BuckeyeThon. The energy, optimism, and love of those involved with BuckeyeThon was contagious. Students have the opportunity to participate in a 24-hour dance marathon to raise money for children at nationwide children’s hospital. Students must raise a minimum of 250 dollars to be eligible for the dance marathon. This small act of raising 250 dollars, when multiplied by students, transformed the lives of children. This year Buckeyethon raised a record breaking 1.6 million dollars for the kids.

Having the opportunity to participate in Buckeyethon has been a highlight of my time here at Ohio State. I had the chance to participate in 2017 and loved every moment of the dancing, service, and love that was spread through this event. In 2017 I met one of the Buckeyethon kids whose name is Regan. Regan was diagnosed in February of 2014 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Regan battled through each treatment with a positive attitude and completed treatment in April of 2016.

This year Kady and I had the chance to reconnect with Regan. At first, we were unsure if she would remember us as it had been an entire year and there were so many people at the dance marathon. When we saw her, she was getting ready to leave we decided we wanted to say hi as she had been such a huge influence on our previous Buckeyethon experience. As we walked up Regan smiled, and we asked if she remembered our tutu making adventure from the year before and the ice cream we had eaten. She began to smile, shook her head, and gave us both a huge hug. I immediately remembered all the reasons I had wanted to participate in this and was grateful for the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of the children at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Not being able to sit for 12 hours allows us to reflect and think about all the things within our lives we take for granted. Learning new line dances, drinking milkshakes, seeing animals from the Columbus Zoo, and watching the excitement of the BuckeyeThon kids are just a few of the ways Kady and I spent our dance marathon experience.

Throughout 24 hours students at The Ohio State University transformed the world of children as they raised money and danced all for the kids. This experience has allowed me to see the impact you can make in a short amount of time and I can’t wait to see the impact we will make next year.