Alumni Spotlight: Dr. R. Kirby Barrick ’70, ’73 M.S., ’80 Ph.D.


Dr. Kirby Barrick ’70, ’73 M.S., ’80 Ph.D. is a three-time alum of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership, with all three degrees concentrating on agricultural education. Now retired dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida and professor emeritis, Barrick resides in Gainesville, Florida. He also served as a member of the ACEL Centennial Endowment committee.

Why did you select to major in agricultural education?
I knew in high school that I wanted to be a teacher. By my junior year I knew I wanted to be a vo-ag teacher. I was greatly influenced by my teacher (John Stimpert); he was the best vo-ag teacher I have ever known!

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
After thinking about going elsewhere, I easily decided on Ohio State. After all, why not – a top college of agriculture and the best agricultural education department in the country.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
I was well-prepared to be a high school vo-ag teacher. Then things just seemed to develop. Obviously, my Ph.D. in teacher education and higher education led me to a faculty position and eventually into administration.

Share with us how you were involved in student life outside of the classroom.
I joined Alpha Gamma Rho and served as a vice-president and then president of the chapter. I was president of the Agricultural Education Society. I served on Ag College Council, and Social Board (determined activities at the Ohio Union), was Homecoming Queen Committee Chair, May Week General Chairman, and a member of the Senior Class Committee. I was initiated into Bucket & Dipper.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
The agricultural education classes, of course, were good and very important for my career objective. I also enjoyed most of the agriculture classes, especially the advanced entomology course.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education?
Dr. Bender and Dr. Warmbrod are clearly at the top of the list. I recall being in the graduate teaching methods course with Dr. Bender. While the content was great, watching and learning from a master teacher was phenomenal. Dr. Warmbrod has many of those same characteristics.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
Alpha Gamma Rho continues to be an important part of my life. AGR and FFA made me who I am today as a person. Those were great times for learning and having fun. I still get together with initiation class buddies each year.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
Vocational Agriculture Instructor at Sheridan High School (Northern Local Schools), Thornville, OH.

Share with us where your career has taken you over the years.
Sheridan High School – vo-ag teacher
Ohio Department of Education – assistant state supervisor, Agricultural Education Service
Ohio State University – faculty member in Department of Agricultural Education and then department chair, assistant director of Ohio State University Extension and State 4-H Leader
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Associate Dean, College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental sciences, and professor of Agricultural Education
University of Florida – dean, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and professor of Agricultural Education

What honors and awards have you been presented over your career?

  • Fulbright Specialist, 2009 – 2013; 2017 – 2021
  • International Educator of the Year, University of Florida International Center, 2016
  • NACTA Murray Brown Leadership Award, 2016
  • UF 150thAnniversary Morrill Act Faculty Award, 2012
  • Distinguished Lecturer, American Association for Agricultural Education, 2011
  • Hall of Fame, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, 2010
  • Honorary State FFA Degree, Florida FFA, 2010
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Ohio State College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, 2005
  • University of Illinois Dads Association Outstanding Faculty Award, 2004
  • Russell Guin Outstanding Agricultural Educator, American Association for Agricultural Education, 2004
  • Distinguished Educator Award, National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, 2001
  • Centennial Award, Alpha Zeta National Honorary Fraternity, 1997
  • Fellow, American Association for Agricultural Education, 1996
  • Outstanding Adviser Award, Ohio State University Agriculture and Natural Resources Student Council, 1996
  • Honorary Member, Agricultural Education Society, Ohio State University, 1991
  • Distinguished Service Award, Ohio Vocational Agriculture Techers Association, 1991
  • Delegate Coordinator Award, National FFA, 1991
  • Ohio State University Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, 1988 (one of eight awarded annually)
  • Outstanding Young Teacher Award, Ohio State University College of Agriculture, 1986
  • Honorary American Farmer Degree, National FFA Organization, 1985
  • Pomerene Teaching Enhancement Award, Ohio State University College of Agriculture, 1985
  • Outstanding Young Teacher Educator, American Association of Teacher Educators in Agriculture, 1984
  • Honorary State FFA Degree, Ohio FFA Association, 1975

Outside of your career, what organizations or activities are you involved with in your community?

  • Various committees and choirs at five United Methodist Churches: First Gainesville, Gainesville Trinity, First Champaign, Grove City, Faith (West Chester), and Somerset
  • President and member, Alpha Gamma Rho National Board of Directors
  • Board of Directors, The Educational Foundation of Alpha Gamma Rho

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
The department chair is the most important and most difficult position in a university. My term as chair at Ohio State was very rewarding. We had limited funds (I had to “give back” a lot of operating money my first week on the job!!), but the department thrived because we had an outstanding group of undergraduate and graduate students and a devoted faculty and staff. It was a pleasure to serve as chair of the top department in the country and to watch students over the years become successful teachers and Extension agents, university faculty and administrators, and all-around excellent scholars.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Remember that the undergraduate experience is two-fold: being successful in your academic pursuits and developing personal skills that last a lifetime. Work hard, study hard, become involved, and give back to your alma mater.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
I knew in high school that I wanted to teach vocational agriculture. The department was great in helping me develop the skills I needed to begin and advance in a career in teaching and learning as well as in administration. I still enjoy sharing what I learned with others, especially now with university faculty in the U.S. and abroad.

Speaking as the Ohio FFA President in 1966.


Senior photo at Ohio State – 1970


Awarded as an Honorary American Farmer in 1985.


Ohio State’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1988


Speaking at the 2007 commencement for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida as dean.



Teaching in Saudi Arabia in 2018


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