Alumni Spotlight: John Poulson ’87

John Poulson is an agricultural educator at the Pettisville Local Schools. He graduated from Ohio State in 1987 with a master’s degree in agricultural education. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences and agricultural education from Ohio State, which he received in 1981.

[ACEL]: Hi John! Why did you select your majors and graduate program?
[POULSON]: I dual majored in animal science and agriculture education because I thought I wanted to work in the animal industry, but the agricultural education classes showed me the diversity of being involved in many subjects.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
It was the only school in Ohio that offered agriculture and where I could get accepted at automatically.  Plus, my mom and dad both graduated from Ohio State.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
The agriculture education classes, the course professors and student teaching showed me I could teach if I wanted to, and I decided I wanted to.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
I was involved in several ways with the Agricultural Education Society, I especially remember being co-chair of the banquet two years. I was inducted into Towers Honorary, but I don’t remember much about it. I worked three years in the Meat Lab, which was a great experience and I have used those skills often.  My last two quarters on campus I was in-charge of clean-up there.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
I enjoyed several classes and it was usually because of the professor or teacher being engaging and challenging.  I especially remember the agricultural education series of 100, 200 and 330 which prepared us for the classroom.  Professors included: Drs. Peters, Knight and Newcomb.  In animal science I enjoyed 200 with Dr. Plimpton, the meat courses with Dr. Parrot and animal nutrition with TizWiz. I think Dr. Hedges did the most to make us think that the problem solving approach is the best method of teaching, then and now.

I also enjoyed taking archery and bowling.

Most professors impacted my career if they gave us material to use in class and methods to use them.  After 36 years of teaching and working in the industry, I use parts of their materials on a daily basis.  The ones mentioned above plus Drs. Gleem, Erving, Papritan II, Lichtensteiger, Conners, Burke and more, some of which I can’t remember.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
I lived in Norton House all four years and those times spent with many friends made lasting memories which include meeting my wife, Lexie Zenz.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
In 1981 I became the vocational agriculture teacher at Crestview High School in Richland and Ashland counties.

Are there other places you have worked throughout your career?
I worked as the agricultural educator and FFA advisor and helped start an alumni group at Crestview until 1988 (7 years). Then was an organization director for Ohio Farm Bureau in Henry, Fulton and Williams Counties for 2 years.  In 1990 I started at Pettisville Schools as the ag teacher and FFA Advisor and have helped start an alumni group here.

During your career, honors or awards have you been presented?
I have been named an OAAE Outstanding Young Teacher, Fulton County SWCD Outstanding Supporter, Honorary American FFA Degree recipient and a NAAE AgScience Teacher of the Year.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
My favorite career highlight is seeing the number of students who excel in the agriculture industry at the local, state and national levels.  It is gratifying to know the affect they have had in the industry.  I also see the many students who work in other industries but still know and love what agriculture means to our world.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Learn to learn and keep learning, with your students, employees, and customers.  Be open to working harder to help reach goals for others as well as yourself.  And, figure out how to get your family involved with what you like to do so that work can sometimes be a hobby too.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
The support that people in the college have given me as a teacher over the years has helped.  It wasn’t just during college but in many of the years since.  Like Dr. Henderson during my first years of teaching, L.H. during my master’s program and various OAAE activities.  More recently the interactions of helping Dr. Whittington teach about high school recordkeeping and working with ACEL for summer conference programming have made me a better teacher.

The best thing that can come from this celebration is the understanding that agriculturalists need a team of educators in the industry, the classroom, the research labs, etc that know what others are doing.


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