Graduate Student Spotlight: Mark Light


Mark Light is a current Ph.D. student studying agricultural communication, education, and leadership. He received a bachelor’s in civil engineering at Ohio Northern University and a master’s in college student personnel at Bowling Green State University.

He is from Ada, Ohio and is currently a full-time 4-H educator in Hardin County and area leader supervisor. In the future he shared that, “My goal is to be a state specialist in Extension and perhaps teach in ACEL.”

“I chose ACEL (for a PhD) because it matches my current career path in Extension… and also because my dad and mom both have a degree from Ohio State.” Mark also shared that the flexibility with online courses has helped him pursue his Ph.D. while living one and a half hours from campus.

As a student in ACEL, Mark’s area of focus is in educational technology and his thesis explores the work-home boundaries of 4-H educators who use personally owned devices to connect with audiences, both internal and external, outside standard office hours.

“Being able to grow and learn more about the profession I am in as a Buckeye is what I love most about Ohio State and ACEL.”




FFA Alumni Spotlight: Rose Zeedyk

Rose Zeedyk is a freshmen studying agriscience education at Ohio State. She came to OSU from the Fairview FFA chapter in Sherwood, Ohio.

Why did you choose Ohio State?
I chose Ohio State because it felt like somewhere I could make “home” for four years and it has a really great agriculture program.

How did FFA help you choose your major?
FFA impacted my choice of major because it showed me how much I loved teaching and advocating for agriculture.

How did FFA prepare you for your future career?
FFA prepared me for my future career by making me step out of my comfort zone and develop skills to communicate clearly and think critically.

FFA Alumni Spotlight: Colby Gregg, Geronimo FFA

Colby Gregg is a PhD student studying agricultural communication, education, and leadership at Ohio State, specializing in agricultural education.

Colby comes to Ohio State from Geronimo, Oklahoma, where he was a member of the Geronimo FFA.

Why did you decide to attend The Ohio State University?
Ohio State has excellent agricultural education faculty and I wanted a chance to learn about agricultural education and FFA in a new state!

How did your experiences in FFA help you choose your major?
It opened my eyes to how agricultural education is an area where every student can succeed, and I wanted to be a part of that.

How did FFA prepare you for your future career?
By showing me how impactful it can be for young people and communities alike.


Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Annie Specht

Dr. Annie Specht is an assistant professor and the undergraduate coordinator in the agricultural communication program in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL).

Specht received her B.S. in 2008 and M.S. in 2010 in agricultural communication from Ohio State University and received her Ph.D. in agricultural communications and journalism from Texas A&M University in 2013.

She has conducted research in multiple areas including media portrayals of agriculture, visual communication, social media, and public perceptions of food, agricultural and environmental sciences.

Before coming home to Ohio State, Specht taught undergraduate courses at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in public relations, media production and professional development.

As an assistant professor at Ohio State, Dr. Specht teaches several courses in multimedia production, publication design, news and feature writing and editing, as well as data visualization. In addition to her various roles in ACEL, she also serves on the Ohio State University Senate.

We are very grateful to have an involved and passionate professor like Dr. Specht in our department!

Graduate Student Spotlight: Kenzie Johnston ’16

Kenzie Johnston is a current master’s student in agricultural communication, education, and leadership where she is specializing in leadership. She is from Richwood, Ohio and graduated with a B.S. in agricultural communication in 2016 from Ohio State.

She returned to ACEL for her master’s because she “wanted to become a more qualified extension educator.” She also added that “Ohio State feels like home to me and I love being a buckeye!”

Kenzie is currently working as an extension educator for Delaware County and is conducting research describing the efficacy of research videos used in extension education for her master’s degree.

When asked what she loves about Ohio State and the department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership, she shared that “I love the traditions of Ohio State and CFAES has the greatest people.”

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jera Niewoehner-Green


Dr. Jera Niewoehner-Green joined the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) in August 2017 as an assistant professor of community leadership.

Niewoehner-Green teaches courses for ACEL about foundations of personal and professional leadership, youth organizations and program management, the leadership capstone project and critical perspectives in leadership development.

Prior to becoming a Buckeye, Dr. “N-G”, as the students call her, spent more than nine years as a public school educator for Metro Nashville Public Schools teaching Spanish and leadership development courses, as well as working outside the classroom as a Career and Technical Education academy coach for the Academies of Nashville, before returning to graduate school to obtain a doctorate in leadership development at the University of Florida in 2017. Her research at UF focused on women’s empowerment participation in leadership roles in rural Honduras.

She earned a B.A. in Spanish from Sweet Briar College and a post-baccalaureate teaching certification from St. Edward’s University, where she studied abroad in Spain at the University of Seville. She also completed her student teaching in Monterrey, Mexico through instructing pre-service primary teachers at the Escuela Normal Migeul F. Martínez. During her tenure at MNPS she completed her M.Ed. in community development and action at Vanderbilt University with research focused on high school service-learning to address community issues.

We are so thankful to have Dr. N-G as a member of our ACEL family!

ACEL well represented at NACS

The Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership was well represented at the National Agricultural Communication Summit (NACS) in Louiseville, Kentucky in early February. Graduate students Alyssa Rockers and Abby Sanders, along with faculty Dr. Emily Buck, Dr. Joy Rumble and Dr. Annie Specht attended the conference with paper and poster presentations.

Papers presented:

Impact of Animating Infographics About Genetic Modification on Information Recall
Jessica Holt, Alexa J. Lamm, Kristin Gibson, Kevan Lamm, University of Georgia; Jason Ellis, Kansas State University; Joy N. Rumble, The Ohio State University

Unobserved Interaction Between Participants and Discussion Topics Within Focus Group Discussions: An Application of Social Network Analysis
Yu Lun Wu, Joy N. Rumble, The Ohio State University; Taylor K. Ruth, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Alexa J. Lamm, University of Georgia; Jason D. Ellis, Kansas State University

Technically Speaking: Technical Skills Needed for Agricultural Communication Baccalaureate Graduates
Arthur Leal, University of Tennessee; Kati Lawson, Ricky Telg, University of Florida; Joy Rumble, The Ohio State University 

Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resource Opinion Leaders in Online Environments
Tiffany M. Rogers-Randolph, Kansas State University; Lisa K. Lundy, Ricky Telg, University of Florida; Joy N. Rumble, The Ohio State University


Posters presented:

Young farmers’ choice of communication channels when communicating with consumers: A case study of midwestern farmers
Yu-Lun Wu, Fally Masambuka-Kanchewa, & Emily Buck, The Ohio State University

Reality or historical romanticism: The impact of agricultural images on cognitive dissonance
Alyssa Rockers, Joy Rumble, & Emily Buck, The Ohio State University

It’s almost as if they have a problem with women: A constant comparative analysis of feminist conversations on agricultural Twitter
Abigail Sanders, Alyssa Rockers, & Annie Specht, The Ohio State University

Can we increase motivation? An Experimental Design of Motivation and Personal Relevance
Yu-Lun Wu, Joy N. Rumble, The Ohio State University; Alexa J. Lamm, University of Georgia; Taylor K. Ruth, University of Lincoln-Nebraska; & Jason D. Ellis, Kansas State University

2020 ACEL Distinguished Seniors named

The Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership has named 10 students to the second class of ACEL Distinguished Seniors in 2020. These students were selected by the faculty and staff of the Department for their excellence both in and out of the classroom.

2020 ACEL Distinguished Seniors include:

  • Trenton Baldwin, community leadership
  • Caleb Hickman, agriscience education
  • Lea Kimley, agricultural communication
  • Elizabeth Landis, agriscience education
  • Taylor Lutz, agriscience education
  • Meredith Oglesby, agricultural communication
  • Taylor Orr, agriscience education
  • Clinton A. Gage Smith, community leadership
  • Marlee Stollar, agricultural communication
  • Brittany Weller, agriscience education

“ACEL is blessed with exceptional students and these 10 seniors represent the amazing accomplishments of our undergraduate students,” said Dr. Scott Scheer, professor and interim chair of ACEL. “They have excelled in all areas of Ohio State student life, from the classroom to conducting research to community service and student organization leadership. These and all of our ACEL seniors will continue to achieve much as they complete their undergraduate degrees and spring forward into life after graduation.”

The ACEL Distinguished Seniors will be recognized at the Department’s annual banquet on April 14, 2020.

ACEL prepares communicators, educators and leaders in the food, agricultural, and environmental sciences to integrate research-based learning, practice and engagement, in ways that will advance positive changes that strengthen individuals, families and communities. For more information on the academic programs and research available in ACEL, or to donate to student scholarships, please visit




Appalachia Service Project: “A relationship ministry, with a little construction on the side.”


“That is Not Correct” is one of the largest projects ASP has been able to work on through the year-round program. After building walls, restructuring the roof, completing a hug system and siding the house this home will be a warmer, safer and dryer environment for this family.

Bailey Pees
agricultural communication student

COLUMBUS, Ohio – “This organization, since the first time that I came, has obviously changed my life in more ways than one,” said Annalee Posey, center director fellow for Appalachia Service Project. “But this year-round program, specifically, has offered a whole new dynamic to that and has provided me with such personal growth.”

Appalachia Service Project (ASP) is a faith-based ministry with a mission to eradicate substandard housing in Central Appalachia by offering free home repair to individuals suffering from poverty.

ASP facilitates a summer program that requires the help of approximately 200 staffers and serves more than 25 counties. Each center and county vary in some way, but the work ASP does, over the course of this eight-week volunteer program, is only part of the organization’s efforts to fulfill its mission.

Jonesville, Virginia is one of ASP’s year-round centers, which hosts volunteers and continues construction throughout the rest of the year, offering a completely different pace and perspective compared to that of the summer program.

Posey said that while working for ASP in the summer, volunteers and staffers don’t necessarily get to experience the negative effects that families go through during the winter months.

“Going into my first fellowship year, last year, that was the biggest thing that stood out to me and stuck with me the most,” said Posey. “I didn’t expect to see the real struggle through winter. It was very difficult. You see a lot of reality behind the work that we do and the effect that it can have.”

The year-round program also allows volunteers the opportunity to see positive effects that come along with making a home warmer, safer and dryer.

“You don’t just see the numbers and the statistics that we give our volunteers about the projects,” said Posey. “You see those in action a lot more and why it’s important.”

Posey said ASP’s year-round program is also different because the demographic of volunteers includes mostly adults, whereas summer volunteer groups tend to bring more high-school aged individuals.

“The pace is different, as far as the energy levels, but also very different as far as seeing construction and relationships happen way faster with all adults,” said Posey.

Kristina Rowles, regional coordinator for ASP, has now worked full-time for this non-profit organization for nearly 3 ½ years, with an additional five summers on staff.

Rowles said the year-round staffers or “Fellows” are able to tackle more difficult and complex projects too, due to the skill level of volunteers generally being higher.

“Sometimes a roof is just too complex for our summer volunteers to tackle,” said Rowles. “If we know that we have a very skilled adult group coming in, we’re able to tackle that and then that provides a dry home for someone who otherwise would not get that opportunity.”

Rowles said similar to the summer program, projects are chosen based on budget, skill level of volunteers, distance from the center and timeframe. Each project and the program, as a whole, is predominantly funded through volunteer fees, independent donors and federal grants. ASP centers also occasionally facilitate special fundraisers for materials and projects that may be outside the initial budget, such as water heaters, septic systems and room additions.

Posey had a perfect example of what it’s like to originally turn down a family and watch them suffer for yet another year, due to safety concerns, budget regulations and skill level limitations. However, after lots of strategizing, Posey and her staff were able to accomplish one of their most impactful projects yet.

“It just wasn’t part of our scope at that point,” said Posey. “It took a lot of planning and a lot of preparation, and a lot of Adam Bean, our home repair coordinator, coming in to explain things, and a lot of prayer. But we’re able to see something cool, a really high impact project happen that is normally completely out of ASP’s scope.”

Not only does ASP touch the lives of individuals by simply offering free home repair, but the staff, volunteers and organization work to build strong relationships with the homeowners and help in any other way they can.

Posey said they met a family in need of home repairs that directly correlated with ASP’s scope and skill level, but these repairs were required in order for the family to stay together. Needing a new HVAC system and bathroom floor could have soon been the cause of these parents losing their children, if ASP hadn’t stepped in to help. Through different conversations with Social Services and having the right volunteers at the right time, ASP was able to fulfil their needs and help this family stay together.

“That was a whole new type of relationship building that we got to witness and were able to be very directly involved in,” said Posey. “Not only our volunteers getting to know them, but helping them continue getting to know each other, as a family, was just really cool. That was definitely high impact that was unexpected, but that’s God.”

After volunteering for eight years and working as a volunteer coordinator in Cocke County, Tennessee, I can attest that there’s something to be said about the relationships built through ASP.

In 2013, I attended my third ASP trip and served in Knox County, Kentucky. The family that my crew worked for couldn’t live in their home while ASP was doing repairs, due to limited space and safety concerns. The married couple chose to live in a camper, on the same lot, with their 7-year-old grandson, Ethan, who they seemed to take care of regularly.

On the day we met, I was wearing a Champion Show Feed t-shirt and Ethan said, “I’m going to call you Champ.” After that short conversation, I immediately knew our relationship was going to grow very quickly.

Within a couple days, the whole work crew had nicknames. Ethan loved turtles and “Call of the Wildman,” so naturally he became Turtle Man for the week.

Every day, Ethan wanted to help with the projects we were given. Due to his own ambition, he even learned how to hold a hammer, but as the week came to an end and projects came to a close, it was time to say goodbye to Ethan and Knox County.

On our last day of work, we gifted the family with some useful items and gave Ethan a set of Legos, which he would potentially cherish for years to come.

While we were hugging and saying our goodbyes, I asked Ethan if he was going to miss us.

Without hesitation, he looked up at me, arms still wrapped around my waist, and said, “I ain’t ever letting go.”

It was in that moment that I realized how much of an impact we truly had on Ethan, over the course of just one week. My relationship with that 7-year-old boy is something I will hold close to my heart forever, but it also serves as a symbol that we don’t meet individuals by accident. People are meant to cross our paths for a reason, especially those we meet through an organization as impactful as ASP.


This feature story was written by Bailey Pees, an agricultural communication student enrolled in the Agricultural Communication 2531 course during the 2019 Autumn Semester. Dr. Joy Rumble instructed the course.