ACEL undergraduates present research

Students from the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) presented at undergraduate research forums at The Ohio State University. The University’s Richard J. and Martha D. Denman Undergraduate Research Forum was held on March 3, 2020.

Because of the closure of Ohio State’s physical campus, the Undergraduate Research Forum for the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences was cancelled and the University’s annual Spring Undergraduate Research Festival was moved to a virtual edition from April 14-21, 2020.


Caleb Hickman, a senior studying agriscience education from Mount Vernon, participated in the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. For his research project, “Exploring the Factors that Influence Post-Secondary Enrollment in Rural Communities,” Hickman was mentored by Dr. Jera Niewoehner-Green, assistant professor of community leadership.


Marlee Stollar, a senior studying agricultural communication from Marietta, participated in the Undergraduate Research Festival. Her research project, “The Impact of Labels and Preconceptions on Ohio State Students’ Food Buying Habits” was presented at the virtual version of the event. She was mentored by Dr. Annie Specht, assistant professor of agricultural communication, and Dr. Amanda Bowling, assistant professor of agriscience education.


Meredith Oglesby, a senior studying agricultural communication from Hillsboro, also participated in the virtual Undergraduate Research Festival. Her research project, “Engaged audiences through social media in colleges of agricultural and environmental sciences,” she was mentored by Dr. Emily Buck, professor of agricultural communication.

“We’re extremely proud of our undergraduate students who have taken the imitative to perform research that will answer questions related to post-secondary enrollment, food purchasing habits and social media usage of colleges of agriculture,” said Dr. Scott Scheer, professor and interim chair of ACEL. “It is clear these students advanced their research skills by putting in many hours as they collected and analyzed data, along with preparing their results for presentation.”

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

ACEL alumni named finalists for Ohio’s Golden Owl Award

Eight alumni from Ohio State’s Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) were named finalists for Ohio’s Golden Owl Award.

In the second year of the award program, 10 teachers from Ohio were selected as honorees, each receiving a $500 price and entrance into the finalist selection state. This award is presented in partnership with Nationwide, Ohio Farm Bureau and Ohio FFA to shed light on the contributions of Ohio’s agricultural educators. They collected over 400 nominations from local students, fellow teachers, parents and community members.

Eight of Ohio’s 10 honorees have at least one degree in agricultural education from Ohio State:

  • Christi Bachman ’89, Bloom Carroll High School
  • Nathan Birkhimer ’15, Fayetteville Perry High School
  • Hannah Everetts ’12, Edon Northwest School
  • Colin Gierke ’83, Global Impact STEM Academy
  • Sarah Lucha ’01, ’02 MS, South Central High School
  • Tyler Pope ’05, Buckeye Central High School
  • Jeremy Ryan ’11, West Muskingum High School
  • Wendi Mizer Stachler ’99 , Miami Trace High School

“It is evident that our alumni make an impact in their communities based on each of these individuals being nominated for this award,” said Dr. Scott Scheer, professor and interim chair of ACEL. “On behalf of the department, I congratulate them on their recognition and thank them for being mentors to their students, our Ohio State students and the example they set daily for the agricultural education profession.”

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


Three ACEL alumni named to AgGrad’s 30 Under 30


Three alumni of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) at Ohio State have been named as winners of the 2020 AgGrad 30 Under 30 Awards. Dr. Brooke Beam ’12, ’14 M.S., ’17 Ph.D., Hannah Thompson-Weeman ’11, ’12 M.S. and Jordan Bonham Rasmussen ’16 were three of 30 national award recipients.

Eighteen judges selected winners from peer and self-nominations based on contributions to agriculture, community, strength of innovation and significance of accomplishments. Recipients were placed in six industry categories: production, innovation and technology, entrepreneurship, education and advocacy, agribusiness and sustainability/food security.

“As a department, we are very excited for three of our alumni to have made this national list,” said Dr. Scott Scheer, professor and interim chair of ACEL. “Brooke, Hannah and Jordan were all very active in student organizations and internship experiences, as well as promoting the agriculture industry as students at Ohio State, so it is no surprise they continue to have a positive impact in their current careers.”

Beam was selected as a recipient in the production category. She is the agricultural and natural resources extension educator for Ohio State Extension, Highland County in Hillsboror, Ohio and earned a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in agricultural communication from Ohio State.

Thompson-Weeman was a recipient in the education and advocacy category. She is the vice president of communication for Animal Ag Alliance is Arlington, Virginia and holds a B.S. and M.S. in agricultural communication from Ohio State.

Rasmussen was selected in the agribusiness category. She is a farm marketer for Cargill in Albion, Nebraska and graduated with a B.S. in agricultural communication in 2016.

This awards program was founded by AgGradeto show the future of agriculture is bright and aims at rewarding those making the extra effort to move the agriculture industry forward.

“These 30 individuals are at the forefront of agriculture and will one day be the leaders in agribusiness, innovation and technology, education and advocacy, entrepreneurship, sustainability and production,” says AgGrad Founder Tim Hammerich in a news release.

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




News Release: Ohio State student presents at national CABLE spring conference

Ohio State agriscience education student Haley Wilson recently attended the annual spring conference for the Consortium for Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Education (CABLE). The conference was held in early March at Colorado State University.

As a CABLE Student Delegate, Wilson completed a research project related to bioeconomy and presented it at the conference. Wilson’s project, completed with three other CABLE student delegates from across the nation, was “Beyond the Billon Ton Report: A look into the financial, technical, and motivational barriers facing the bioeconomy.” This project was sponsored by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Haley has been a great asset to the CABLE program as a student delegate. Her expertise is in agriscience education and communication and through the CABLE program, she used these skills to show the importance of social- science in a hard-science industry,” said Dr. Caryn Filson, assistant professor of professional practice for agriscience education and faculty mentor to Wilson. “Haley had the opportunity to collaborate with other student delegates, who were trained in the traditional hard-sciences, to help them better communicate and educate their research to the general public.”

In addition to the research project, Wilson also received leadership training, networked with industry leaders and learned about internship opportunities as part of the yearlong delegate program. Delegates participate in monthly one-hour webinars, attend two four-day events, conduct campus seminars and engagement projects on their home campus and participate in mentor sessions with a faculty mentor.

“As Haley’s faculty mentor, I was proud to see her step into a leadership role among her delegate peers and use her agriscience education skills to impact future leaders in the bioeconomy,” said Filson.

The agriscience education major at Ohio State prepares its students to acquire a license to teach agricultural science in secondary high schools in Ohio and across the country, with extensive training in agricultural science, educational psychology, instructional methods, and youth development. For additional information on the agriscience education major, visit or call 614.247.6358.

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Taylor Lutz

Taylor Lutz is an agriscience education major from Bucyrus, Ohio.

As an FFA member in high school, she loved sharing agriculture with others and knew that a career in agricultural education seemed to be a great fit, as she was passionate about teaching others about the agricultural industry.

She began her college education at Ohio State, which she feels was the best fit for her as she transitioned to college from a small high school.

Now finishing her fourth year as a Buckeye, Lutz was selected by faculty in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and leadership as one of 10 students to be named an ACEL Distinguished Senior.

“Taylor has been active in professional development in several areas of agriculture, beyond agricultural education while at both the Ohio State ATI and Columbus campuses. Taylor is active across CFAES, in AFA and was a runner up for Ms. Agriculture, all while she has maintained strong academic standing,” said ACEL faculty in her nomination.

As a student she helped start the Collegiate 4-H Club at Ohio State ATI and served as it’s vice-president. Once she transitioned to the Columbus campus she became a CFAES Ambassador and joined Collegiate Cattle Association. She also attended the annual Agricultural Future of America (AFA) Conference and served on their student advisory team her final year.

The internships and work experiences she held during college had a large impact on her future. She worked as a loss control representative for Nationwide Insurance and oversaw northern Ohio farms for the Agribusiness Risk Management division, was an education marketing intern with Valent USA LLC where she traveled across the country to talk with diverse farmers and growers to better their marketing and communications, and she worked for CFAES Marketing and Communications where she managed social media posts and created a podcast for the college.

“Each of these experiences have helped pave the path I choose after graduation,” said Lutz.

Lutz also recently completed 14-weeks of student teaching at Northmor High School and Northmor FFA. This experience gave her the in-person experience of teaching in an agricultural education program while under the supervision of a cooperating educator.

As her time as a Buckeye comes to a close, Lutz shared that although she has too many fond memories to count, some of her best ones would simply be meeting people as an ATI and CFAES ambassador and her time with AFA.

She reflects on her major, saying “Agriscience education is a great all around major. As a wise man once said, in the agriscience education major, you will learn an inch deep and mile wide worth of information about agriculture.”

Following graduation, Lutz will be pursuing a career as a high school agricultural educator, but is also open to a career in communications and marketing in the agricultural industry.

Leading activities the CFAES booth at the National FFA Convention.

Following an Ohio State victory over Michigan.

In Ireland with the CFAES Human and Animal Interactions

Speaking at AFA.

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Clinton “Gage” Smith

Gage Smith is a senior majoring in community leadership, with a specialization in community and extension education, from Racine, Ohio.

He saw the impact that community based development has on people who need empowerment, and chose to major in community leadership. He became a Buckeye because he knew Ohio State would allow him to pursue his dream of working alongside diverse communities and that CFAES believed in him and his abilities.

Now, as his time as a Buckeye comes to a close, Smith has been selected by faculty in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership as one of 10 students to be named an ACEL Distinguished Senior.

“Gage has been involved in Ohio State life and academics at many levels,” said ACEL faculty in his nomination. “He is a program assistant in OSU Extension at the Community Development state office and is the founding President of the new student organization Cultivating Change whose mission is to value and elevate LGBTQ agriculturalists through advocacy, education, and community. He is making positive change in our college.”

Throughout his time as a student, Smith has been actively engaged in student organizations on campus. He served as president of the Ohio State chapter of Cultivating Change, member and social media chair of Voyagers, treasurer and fundraising chair for Collegiate FFA at Ohio State ATI and founded the Ohio State Wooster Campus Food Pantry.

During his summers throughout college, Smith interned with an international non-profit in Ghana, West Africa. “The experiences working with subsistence farm women to promote gender equity in micro-loans and savings has guided my career goals post-graduation to pursue a career in international development and community based program planning,” he said.

One experience during his internship has become his favorite college memory, caravanning alongside bull-elephants in the Guinea Savanna in Ghana, West Africa.

In the classroom, Smith enjoyed the classes that promoted learning outside of the classroom by offering volunteer opportunities at local nonprofits in the Columbus community.

“Community leadership graduates are skilled in diverse areas of community based engagement to solve the most wicked problems effecting communities across the world,” said Smith. “ If you are passionate about equity for all, progressive social change through science-based education, and creating positive change for entire communities – then community leadership is the major for you.”

Following graduation, Smith will be pursuing a graduate degree in international development.

In Ghana, Africa during his internship.

Hanging out with Brutus in the Ohio Union.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Aaron Giorgi

Aaron Giorgi is a current Ph.D. student in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership. His area of study is teaching and learning for first generation college students. 

Giorgi is originally from Miami, Florida and received his B.S. and M.S. in agricultural education from the University of Florida.  

When asked why he chose to pursue his Ph.D. at ACEL he responded that, “the history of quality graduate education and being able to see a completely different ag ed model,” were the reasons. 

As a Ph.D. student, Giorgi is a Teaching Assistant for undergraduate Ag Ed courses, the instructor for COMLDR 3535 and is a Price Chair Fellow researching first generation college student success. 

In the future he hopes to be faculty in a tier 1 land-grant university in Ag Ed or Career and Workforce Development. “That position would allow me to continue building my research agenda and support a state’s secondary ag/CTE teachers.” 

He added that “ACEL is a family and Ohio State provides so many students opportunities.”

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Brittany Weller

Brittany Weller is an agriscience education major from Bellevue, Ohio.

As an alum of a high school agricultural education and FFA, Weller recognizes the need for agricultural educators.

“As an agricultural educator, my hope is to bridge the gap between farm and consumer, and that all starts with education,” said Weller. “There are so many people in today’s society who do not know where their food comes from, and that is scary to them.”

From the first time she stepped on Ohio State’s campus, she knew there was no other option for her education, she was going to be a Buckeye!

“I remember my freshman year of high school I went to the CFAES booth [at FFA Convention], and talked to a couple CFAES ambassadors, and from that point on I was hooked. I knew that Ohio State had the best opportunities for agriscience education,” she said.

Eight years later, Weller has been selected by faculty in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership as one of 10 students to be named an ACEL Distinguished Senior.

“Brittany has been active in student organizations in CFAES, while also being a friendly face as an office worker in ACEL,” ACEL faculty noted in her nomination. “Brittany strives to maintain her strong academic standing and is passionate about caring for others and being in the ASE major. Brittany has represented OSU ASE at national professional development conferences.”

Weller just completed a 14-week student teaching experience at South Central High School agricultural education program and the South Central FFA. She is currently serving as an Ohio Teach Ag Ambassador, an opportunity that has confirmed her desire to be the in the classroom educating others. Internships with Sandusky County 4-H, Sunrise Cooperative and Ohio 4-H have also provided her with skills and lessons she will be able to apply to her teaching in the future.

She has been a member of the Poultry Judging Team, Saddle & Sirloin, Ohio Collegiate Cattle Association, Alpha Sigma Upsilon, the CFAES Banquet Committee, Agricultural Education Society and the Poultry Science Club.

In the classroom, Weller has always maintained high academics. But there was one class that she took as an elective that ended up being her favorite class from throughout her time at Ohio State.

I loved meat science with Dr. Garcia. Hands-down the best class that I took throughout college,” she said. “It wasn’t required, so I felt a little crazy for taking it because it was challenging for me, but I am so glad that I decided to do so. I learned so much in that class that I apply to both the classroom and my real life.”

Her interest in meat science also led her to being a member of the Ohio State Poultry Judging Team, following a poultry evaluation course.

“My best college memory would have to be traveling to Louisiana with my poultry judging team and placing 2nd at the contest. We had the chance to tour NOLA, eat good food, and go on a swamp tour,” she said. “It was a great trip with even better people.”

Now that her time at Ohio State is coming to an end, Weller encourages others to consider Ohio State and/or the agriscience education major because of the endless opportunities and the variety of classes.

“ACEL is also a home away from home, so being there in general is something that I enjoyed,” she said.

Following graduation, Weller plans to pursue a career as an agricultural educator in a comprehensive program, but is open to all opportunities that lie ahead.

South Central FFA’s student teacher.

At an Ohio State Football game with family.

In Italy on the Human and Animal Interactions Study Abroad.

Poultry Judging Team

Poultry Judging Team

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Marlee Stollar

Marlee Stollar is a senior studying agricultural communication from Marietta, Ohio.

Stollar grew up helping family with their agritourism farm and was a 4-H member. Both of these programs fueled her passion for agriculture. After being prompted to look into the agricultural communication major by her mom and sister, a student in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership at the time, she visited campus and knew it was the major for her.

As a senior, Stollar was selected by faculty in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and leadership as one of 10 students to be named an ACEL Distinguished Senior.

Stollar has been active in Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, serving as education chair, vice president and now president. She also was a co-chair of the CFAES Celebration of Students Banquet, a member of Towers Agricultural Honorary and their reporter and service chair, along with a sister in Alpha Sigma Upsilon.

She also completed a variety of internships with Congressman Bill Johnson, Ohio State University Extension’s Community Development office, Dairy Farmers of America, Mideast Area Office and Local Matters.

“My Local Matters and Community Development roles have helped me to better realize my passion for helping others,” said Stollar. “I hope to be the communications director of a nonprofit relating to food education and access in the future.”

Education Abroad was also a part of Stollar’s experiences at Ohio State. “I would say my best college memory was going to Brazil with Alpha Zeta partners. Specifically, I really enjoyed staying with my host family. That weekend, my best memory was visiting an agritourism-type lunch place in Brazil and getting ice cream afterwards with my host sister,” she said. She also traveled to England and Scotland with the agricultural and environmental communication program.

In the classroom, Stollar excelled in her agricultural communication courses and found that her favorite courses were both within and outside of her major. However, these courses both confirmed desire to work in nonprofit communications.

“My favorite class in the ACEL department was publication design and production with Dr. Specht,” said Stollar. “I learned so much about the basics of design, which has helped me so much in internships and jobs. One of my favorite parts about the class was learning more about fonts. Fun fact–my favorite font is Avenir!”

“Another class I really enjoyed was in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, Introduction to Nonprofit Organizations. I learned so much about the importance of nonprofits in our world today, and all of the materials were relevant and interesting. It has also further developed my passion for food access and education,” she said.

When asked why someone should consider the agricultural communication major at Ohio State, Stollar shared “Agricultural communication gives students the tools to succeed in the communication field. You learn to improve your writing, as well as your design and photography skills. The professors are very helpful as well–they are always there to assist you if you need it. I would tell students to choose ag comm to be best prepared for communication in the agricultural industry.”

Following graduation, Stollar will enroll in graduate school at Ohio State where she will work towards a master’s degree in agricultural communication.


Marlee and a jersey cow at the Waterman Ag and Natural Resources Laboratory during ACT’s annual Farmers Share.

With Meredith, comparing photos during a study abroad trip.

Recruiting new ACT members at the annual CFAES Back to School Bash.

On the CFAES Agricultural and Environmental Communication study abroad program in England and Scotland.

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Caleb Hickman

Caleb Hickman is a senior studying agriscience education from Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Hickman holds a passion for aiding youth from rural areas and he knew a major in agriscience education would open countless doors to help guide the next generation of agriculturalists.

With several alumni of The Ohio State University in his family, he knew of the opportunities he would be provided as a Buckeye which ultimately led to his decision to attend Ohio State.

“I was born a Buckeye,” said Hickman. “My family instilled a passion in me for the scarlet and gray.”

In its second year, the Distinguished Senior Award recognizes top students in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership. This year, Hickman is one of 10 students to be selected by faculty for the honor.

Of his nomination as an ACEL Distinguished Senior, agriscience education faculty shared that “Caleb has been and involved and committed ASE student. He has been active in organizations at the department and university levels while maintaining an excellent academic record, strong work ethic and overall positive contribution to the program and his peers.”

Hickman has been very active in student life, participating in ten student organizations and serving on several executive teams. He was a member of FarmHouse Fraternity – ATZ Chapter, Bucket and Dipper Junior Class Honorary, Romophos Sophomore Class Honorary, Stadium Scholarship Program, Fabulous Unique Neighborhood Hall Council, Agricultural Education Society, Buckeye library Leadership, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Community Commitment.  He also served as a senator for Undergraduate Student Government.

Although he participated in student organizations, his academics were always a top priority and led him to new passions.

“In the future, I plan on helping rural communities understand the complexities of living in a diverse world. This interest was sparked after taking a course titled Toward Cultural Proficiency, which was taught by Dr. Susie Whittington,” said Hickman. “She taught us how to help others understand an array of identities, cultural differences and ways of life. I found my passion for enhancing rural communities and aiding them in understanding an array of diverse backgrounds.”

“I loved classes that challenged me to my breaking point. Teaching methods with Dr. Kitchel and experiential learning with Dr. Bowling were two classes that pushed me to my limits,” he said.

He shared that in the teaching methods course, students were taught how to handle positive criticism, but more importantly the perspective that every child has a different set of needs, and it is up to the teacher to meet those needs.

“My experiential learning course, at times, made me exceedingly angry because I was passionate about the topics that were discussed in her course,” he said. “Positive youth development plays an essential role in children’s lives, but it is a challenging concept to comprehend. For myself, this topic hit exceedingly close to home, but I am a better person because of this course.”

Hickman also found time to complete a two-year internship with Guthridge, a construction company that provided him with resources on how to communicate trade school to his future students.

“College is not for everyone, and that is okay,” Hickman said. “Gutridge provided me with talents in disciplines that I have yet mastered, and I will be a better agriscience educator because of my time spent with them.”

He also completed 14 weeks of student teaching at Big Walnut High School with the Big Walnut-Delaware Area Career Center FFA Chapter.

“Student teaching provided me with an excellent opportunity to learn from an experienced educator that cares about enhancing the future of agricultural science education,” said Hickman. “Mr. Stimmell has become a mentor that I look forward to working with in the future. I am thankful for the time spent in this classroom and I cannot wait to see what the students of the Big Walnut FFA Chapter achieve next.”

She also recently completed 14 weeks of student teaching with Marion Local High School and the Marion Local FFA Chapter.

“Agriscience education is the first step in ensuring that the future of agriculture is going to continue to flourish. Becoming an educator is more than teaching in the classroom; it is becoming a community member that has a passion for bettering the lives of children outside of school,” Hickman said.

“Agriscience education and its parameters are vastly growing, and we must work together to bridge the gap between urban and rural youth. In my opinion, agriscience education is the solution, and that is why one should consider my major at Ohio State.”

Hickman also had a few parting words for underclassmen at Ohio State. “College is filled with ups and downs but embrace each opportunity and learn from the failures. It is up to you to change your mindset to eliminate the word failure because failure is only possible when you declare it. If you have the chance to try again, do it, but never stop trying to reach your fullest potential.”

Following graduation, Hickman will be attending the University of Kentucky’s graduate program in community leadership and development. He looks forward to becoming a high school agricultural educator following graduate school.

CFAES Senator Campaign Poster

Caleb’s first day as a student teacher at Big Walnut High School.

Caleb and his FarmHouse Fraternity brothers following the 2019 Christmas dinner with faculty and staff.

At centerfield with Stadium Scholars Program friends.