Dr. Caryn Filson is a three-time alum of agricultural education at Ohio State. Following completion of her master’s degree, she taught middle school agricultural education in Virginia. She now serves as an assistant professor of professional practice in our department.
[ACEL]: Hello Dr. Filson! Why did you select agricultural education for your major when you entered college?
I chose agricultural education because it combined my two passions: agriculture and teaching! I have never wanted to be anything besides a teacher, but could not see myself leaving the agricultural world-so choosing agricultural education was a perfect fit for me.
Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
The rich history and tradition of Ohio State and agricultural education as a land grant institution made it the only choice for me! Becoming a Buckeye was more than just about choosing a college, it was choosing a ‘home’ with peers, faculty, and opportunities to support my passions and help me grow into a career.
How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
I knew I wanted to teach, and the faculty at Ohio State were the renowned mentors and role models in agricultural education to help me achieve my goals. Learning from the best, not only some of the best educators at Ohio State, but nationally and world-recognized educators, kept me striving to become better myself. My mentors at Ohio State encouraged and supported me to achieve goals that I did not know were even possible when I first arrived as an 18 year old undergrad student.
What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
I was involved in Agricultural Education Society, serving as a committee member and president. I was also involved in the College Banquet Committee as secretary and decorations committee.
What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
My most memorable class (and favorite) at Ohio State was teaching methods taught by Dr. Susie Whittington. It was a class that fully engaged me as a student and a young teacher. It was the first time I was able to see the content being role modeled by the instructor, was able to practice hands-on through lab activities, and then directly apply my knowledge when I was in my own classroom. The preparation and attention to detail that Dr. Whittington put into every single lesson made the difference as a student, and her enthusiasm for teaching the class was contagious! Dr. Whittington’s methods class was an experience that still motivates me to be the best teacher I can be today (13 years later)!
What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education and career?
While I have had many great mentors at Ohio State, Dr. Susie Whittington has had the biggest impact on my education and career. I became a work study student for Dr. Whittington as a sophomore, and little did I know that it was the start of a life-long journey of teaching and learning, mentoring, and friendship. Dr. Whittington is a true pioneer for women in agriculture and blazed the path for other women to follow in a career once dominated by men. When I started my career at Ohio State Dr. Whittington was my academic advisor and supervisor; because of her support, mentorship, and commitment, many years later I am now blessed to be her colleague. Her dedication to agricultural education and most importantly, to her students, make her an icon in the profession. You will find no one more passionate about developing people than Dr. Whittington! I continue to embrace every opportunity to learn from her that I can, and am grateful for the many occasions she has taught me about being a life-long learner, a professional, a colleague, a mom, and a friend. She genuinely embodies the spirit of a teacher-and Ohio State is fortunate to have her talents, wisdom, and presence as a part of the ACEL family!
What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
My favorite memory during my time at Ohio State was the opportunity to travel to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina to help with the cleanup. A group of students in the Collegiate 4-H and adviser Denny Hall organized the trip over winter break in 2005. We spent our days cleaning up farms, agricultural businesses, and local communities all devastated by the water. The stories and sights were heartbreaking, but the experience of working alongside new and old friends was humbling and one that I will never forget.
What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
My first teaching job following Ohio State was a middle school agriculture education and earth science teacher in southeast Virginia. I taught at Southampton Middle School for three years where I also coached JV softball and taught GED classes at night.
During your career, honors or awards have you been presented?
I was awarded the NACTA graduate teaching award in 2013.
As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
My favorite career highlight is to be on faculty at Ohio State in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership working with students who have the same passion of becoming ag teachers as I had! When I started college, I never dreamed that I would find myself teaching outside of a high school classroom, but every day that I can come into work at Ohio State and help students achieve their goals is a great day! Knowing that I am making a much bigger impact in agricultural education by working with preservice teachers is beyond rewarding!
What advice would you give to a current student?
My advice to current students is to keep pushing yourself! You never know your potential until you go beyond your own limits!
What did ACEL cultivate in you?
ACEL cultivated the potential in me that I did not know I had! Because of the faculty in ACEL, I discovered opportunities for experiences and growth as a student, as a professional, and as a person. ACEL was the catalyst that got me where I am today and will continue to offer opportunities for my future!