Dr. Earl Kantner is a three time graduate of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership. He came to Ohio State from Wapakoneta, Ohio with a goal of becoming an agricultural educator in 1946. He accomplished that goal when he spent eight years in agricultural classrooms and later achieved a career long dream of becoming the director of the Ohio FFA Association. Dr. Kantner is now retired and resides in Canal Winchester, Ohio.
[ACEL]: Hello Dr. Kantner! Share with us why you decided to attend The Ohio State University and major in agricultural education.
[Kantner]: Growing up on a good livestock and crop family farm gave me a strong base for a career in the agricultural industry. I had a strong interest in my high school agricultural classes, leading me to a defining decision to pursue a career as an agricultural teacher. I never wavered from that early decision, which led me to a dream lifetime career. My choice for a college major was thus an easy one—College of Agriculture (now CFAES), Department of Agricultural Education (now ACEL), at The Ohio State University!!
I wanted to attend an agricultural college in the Midwest. I considered Iowa State, Purdue, Kentucky and of course Ohio State! The decision soon emerged as an easy choice!! It was my home state university– Ohio State! (I have always been a loyal Buckeye). Ohio State had a top reputation as did the agricultural college and the agricultural education department. How could I possibly go wrong- Ohio State was my choice!
How did your education at Ohio State influence your career or career path?
The entire faculty of my major department – the Department of Agricultural Education, (especially Dr. Ralph Bender, department chairman) were very supportive of me and my career progress. They were very thorough, checking my course work, my work ethic and my specific progress.
The coursework went well. I was, and still am… well satisfied. Overall, the education I received at Ohio State motivated me to reach my career long goal of becoming a teacher.
What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
I always put academic achievement first in my university life. I was able to accomplish this while being somewhat active in extracurricular activities.
- Alpha Zeta Fraternity
- Several Honorary Fraternities
- TAES (Townshend Ag-Ed Society) Member
- Feature writer, College Magazine
- Grange Club Membership
This routine resulted in a good balance for me. I was, and am, well pleased.
What classes did you enjoy the most at Ohio State?
The courses relating to my major (agricultural education) were my most enjoyable, since they related specifically to my future teaching career. I also enjoyed guidance, statistics, and research courses. They were difficult, but satisfying and would be useful in life and my career.
What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education or career?
Dr. Ralph Bender was the Ohio State professor that made the greatest impact on me throughout my college experience. he was chairman of the agricultural education department at Ohio State and was well known and highly respected throughout Ohio, nationally and internationally.
Dr. Bender chose to be my personal graduate school advisor, guiding me through my master’s degree and my doctoral program. It was Dr. Bender who urged me to pursue a doctorate degree, leading to higher career achievement.
I was and will be, eternally grateful to Dr. Ralph E. Bender for his personal care guidance and support of me in my career (and life) preparation.
What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
I always enjoyed “learning” and my time at Ohio State was certainly no exception. It is nearly impossible to pick a favorite memory from the many, but I believe the classroom routine- the class- information and classmate comradery would be favorite memories. Fraternity life (Alpha Zeta) would be like wise be a strong favorite memory!!
What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
I’ll never forget– my first job following graduation from Ohio State was teaching— fulfillment of my high school dream of becoming a teacher.
Immediately after graduation, I and other graduates applied for an agricultural teaching position at Ansonia High School, located in Western Ohio’s Darke County– A strong agricultural area. After personal interviews and a long (2 week) wait I received a personal phone call from the school superintendent that I was their choice to fill their open position. I was highly delighted — I accepted!!!
Share with us the different positions you held throughout your career.
My first teaching experience was at Ansonia High School in far western Ohio’s Darke County…a strong agricultural area. After two good years, I was offered a teaching position at Wauseon High School in far northwest Ohio , a larger school, teaching agricultural classes and training Ohio State student teachers assigned by Ohio State.
After six great years at Wauseon, I was offered (and eagerly accepted) an appointment on the faculty of the Department of Agricultural Education at The Ohio State University. Duties at Ohio State included involvement in normal staff operations and especially operating the “southeast teacher training center…a typical high school setting for Ohio State’s teacher training program. It was a great position I kept for six years.
In 1963 I was offered, and accepted, a position of assistant state director of the Ohio Agricultural Education Service with the Ohio Department of Education. This was the program that oversaw the agricultural teaching programs in 350 Ohio high schools.
In addition to regular administrative state department operations, I was high excited to be appointed as director of the Ohio FFA Association – ironically my career long “dream job.” With great joy and appreciation, I accepted.
What honors and awards have you been presented throughout your career?
A number of companies, businesses and organizations and others presented plaques, certificates and other honors for my 44 years of dedication to Ohio youth preparing for careers in the agricultural industry through agricultural education and FFA.
Some of the honors are:
- Distinguished Service Award, National Association of Agricultural Educators
Distinguished Service Citation, National Vocational Education Service
National FFA VIP Award
- The Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame
- The Ohio Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award
- Honorary Director of Agriculture
- Ohio State Silver Anniversary Award
- Ohio FFA Distinguished Service Award
- Ohio FFA VIP Award
- Numbers retirement and meetings letters of appreciation
As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
My appointment to the Department of Education, which included the position of director of the Ohio FFA Association was clearly my favorite career highlight.
While I fully enjoyed administrative duties of being assistant state supervisor of the Agricultural Education Service, working with teen age young people in FFA was my “piece of the cake.” I truly loved the sky-high inspiring activities that occurred on a daily basis.
I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve young people preparing for careers in the agricultural industry through the agricultural education and FFA programs.
What advice would you give to a current student?
My single advice to a current student would be – take the HIGH ROAD – for your life journey!!
PLANNING is a key – “give strong consideration to what you want your life to be like. Don’t…DO NOT…just “develop by chance.”
My several top specific suggestions for growing into a good life would be:
- Choose a “dream career” – one you would truly love!!
- Have a firm religious faith
- be a strong family person
- be careful – chose a perfect life-mate
- be enthusiastic, friendly and caring
- work hard – “enjoy your work!!”
A summation – plan ahead, take the high road, work diligently and – enjoy life!
A final “inspiration and guide” – a specific part of the legendary #1 New York state musical – The Sound of Music – is a tremendous inspiration and guide for life:
“Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Following every rainbow
Til you reach….your dream!!”
This was a major inspiration for me…and is sure to be for all – especially students.
What did ACEL mean to you?
ACEL was a true “guide” to me all through my eight years of student at Ohio State. It was “home base” – the place I went for information of any kind – registration, direction, suggestion, friendship, and especially important – inspiration!
The entire faculty was truly “warm and friendly” and supportive in every way. Dr. Ralph Bender, chairman of the department, was usually the first to look up from his busy desk and greet his students.
ACEL was truly valuable to me – inspiring and guiding me through my college life and into my “dream” career.