ACEL Distinguished Senior: Solomon Garner

Solomon Garner is a senior studying community leadership with a specialization in leadership and a minor in youth development. A Columbus, Ohio native, Solomon is a graduate of Briggs High School. He is one of 14 seniors from the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership selected as an ACEL Distinguished Senior.

Why did you choose your major?
Initially, I chose my major because I wanted to one day help the community I grew up in, which is the Hilltop area in Columbus. I knew that community development was needed to make it a better place. However, there’s so many communities in need and I wanted a way to help more than just my own.

Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
Ohio State has one of the greatest reputations in the world, and I was always fond of the dream being a part of a such an illustrious institution.

What classes did you enjoy the most?
This is a tough choice but five classes I for sure enjoyed the most were: Community Leadership (COMLDR 5000), Professional Leadership Ethics (COMLDR) 5430, Advanced Agricultural Communication and Technology (AGRCOMM 5530), Community, Environment, and Development (ENR 3500), and Public Service and Civic Engagement (PUBAFRS 2120)

What internships did you complete and how did they help you decide what you did or did not want to do after graduation?
I completed my internship with Dr. King in the OSU Leadership Center. This internship confirmed what I want to do after graduation and confirmed that I made the right decision in choosing my major. My internship consisted of answering the question and goal of “how to intentionally incorporate social justice issues into leadership development programs?” This internship challenged me ethically, morally, and intellectually in terms of leadership. It called for me to view community for who and what it is, while checking, addressing, and removing my implicit bias to properly address the community in awareness of social justice.

What do you plan to do after graduation?
I plan to either enter the workforce or attend graduate school for a Master of Science with a concentration in leadership.

What stands out as your best college memory?
Volunteering with Zero Waste during the football season, along with attending games and storming the fields when we win, stands out as my best college memory.

Why should someone else consider your major at Ohio State?
If one is looking for a challenge and community that will plant the seeds for them to grow and change the world as we know it, community leadership is for you. The community leadership major will provide one with the tools to grow into the leader they believe themselves to be. The tools to impact and ignite the lives of others around them.

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Melanie Fuhrmann

Melanie Fuhrmann is a senior studying community leadership with minors in youth development, human development and family sciences, and horticulture. Hailing from Wheelersburg, Ohio, Melanie is a graduate of Minford, Ohio. She is one of 14 seniors of the department of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership to be named an ACEL Distinguished Senior.

Why did you choose your major?
I have been a part of 4-H and around extension professionals ever since I was born. I have always loved educating others about my family’s apple orchard, working with youth and helping others better themselves. Thus, this major seemed perfect for becoming an extension educator in the future.

Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
I chose to attend Ohio State because of a few reasons. I have lived in Ohio my entire life, naturally making me a Buckeye, both of my sisters also attended Ohio State and loved the campus and community here. The last reason was because Ohio State is research oriented and connected to Ohio State Extension, allowing me to build relationships and connections with those who can help me achieve my dreams.

What classes did you enjoy the most?
I loved Tom Stewart’s public speaking class, I took it to brush up on my speaking skills and would 100% take it again. He is an amazing teacher and person. I also loved Social Work 2100 with Jerry Davis, this class helped me to find my love for working with LiFEsports. HCS 2306 with Elaine Grassbaugh was a very fun and hands on class. Finally, teaching methods for nonformal learning environments (COMLDR 5330) with Dr. Rodriqguez was extremely enjoyable and hands-on. We were able to teach youth about agriculture and create a campus tour for the other students.

Leading a lesson with youth during the methods of non-formal teaching course.

What student organizations have you been involved in as a student?
I’ve been a member of a number of student organizations including Agricultural Education Society (community outreach chair, McCaslin committee chair), a member of the Women’s Varsity Bowling Team, Collegiate Farm Bureau and the Ohio State Disney Club.

Ohio State’s Varsity Bowling Team

What internships and job experiences have you had as a student?
I have completed an early field experience (EFE) with the Scioto County, Ohio 4-H Youth Development Extension Educators. This was a great experience of learning more about the summer duties for 4-H Extension educators. I was able to work during the fair week, it opened my eyes to the hard work required but reassured myself that I would love to work as a 4-H Youth Development extension educator.

I was a Chalk Talk leader for the 2019 summer Ccamp through LiFEsports at Ohio State. During this experience I worked with at-risk youth of all ages and other college students and professionals. I loved being able to work in a different atmosphere with the same goals of helping youth to better themselves. This experience helped me gain experience working with youth who could be very difficult and trying but that at the end the effort was completely worth it. It also opened my eyes to the different possibilities available for working with youth.

With campers during LiFEsports summer camp

With campers, and their awards, during LiFEsports summer camp

I recently completed a five-week internship with a Purdue Extension Specialist Dr. Kathryn Orvis and Dee Nicley, one of the Tippecanoe County, Indiana 4-H Youth Development extension educators. Through this internship I developed and created a Spark Club about floriculture to be used as a Spark Club and as an online resource for the Indiana Junior Master Gardeners Program. This helped me to understand how much time, effort and patience goes into creating programs and the process of it.

I am currently completing a six-week internship with Kayla Oberstadt, a program manager with Ohio 4-H Youth Development for Ohio Military Kids and Older Youth Programs. This summer I will return to the Tippecanoe County, Indiana Extension Office.

The biggest and most impactful work experience I have had would be working for my family’s farm. We own an apple orchard and attend three farmers markets from June until September, this year we added a farmers market in Columbus from December until the middle of February, we have a storefront and have done many workshops and events to educate the public. This work is very difficult but very rewarding. I have grown up working on the farm and it truly has taught me how to have a work ethic and how to love what I do.

While working on the farm I have started transplants, planted our plants, picked all our produce and flowers, washed the produce and prepared it for farmers markets and orders, and sold all our produce and flowers. I’ve also managed and operated three different farmers markets weekly, promoting buying local, talking to customers, and making change. Manage the orchard Facebook page and create items for advertisement and promotion, and coordinate fall apple festival. Taught and managed our Flower Picking Experience Workshops and Wreath Making Workshops. Picked, assembled, and created flower arrangements, bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres for various weddings and special events. I also have attended many conferences to learn more about the industry and growing different crops. The most challenging part of working on my family farm is being two-hours away from my family farm. During school I usually drive home on the weekends to help my family with our business and with raising our meat goats and it can be a struggle to want to help more than just on the weekends. COVID allowed me to stay during our busiest season to help on the farm and I was extremely grateful to be able to help more once Autumn semester had started.

I also work for The Ohio State University Department of Athletics on the maintenance facilities grounds crew. With this job my crew and I maintain all the outdoor Ohio State athletic facilities throughout the year and during sporting events. This includes prepping of athletic fields and playing mounds, mowing, cleaning of bathrooms, locker rooms, and press boxes, cleaning of athletic facility stands, upkeep of the grounds areas, and upkeep of the maintenance garage. This job has truly taught me how to work with others and create positive work environments. I am usually the only female on the crew, working with all men can be an issue because sometimes I am viewed as lesser or like I don’t know what I am doing originally. However, I have been able to create friendships and change other people’s minds that females can belong on a field crew.

With Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George during a football game in 2019

With Brutus during a football game

What stands out as your best college memory?
My best college memories are likely my Buck-I-SERV trips. I have loved the trips I went on, helping others with no agenda, meeting new people, and creating a tight knit family in the process. They are amazing experiences, not easy to describe but full of memories and good times.

Splattered with oil during a Habitat for Humanity project in Pensacola, Florida on a Buck-I-SERV trip.

Why should someone else consider your major at Ohio State?
My major helps to teach you all of the social skills needed to work with others, lead others and help others become the best they can. Everyone should learn how to communicate and work with others, it is not often taught but valuable skills to have in life.

What do you plan to do after graduation?
I am planning on attending graduate school to complete my master’s degree. I am currently deciding on the school I will attend.

A note of thanks:
Thank you to everyone who has helped me on my journey to where I am now and where I am going in my future. I could not be who I am today or have achieved what I have without the numerous people and communities who have helped me on the way.


ACEL Distinguished Senior: Sean Fitzsimmons

Sean Fitzsimmons is a senior studying agriscience education with minors in production agriculture and agribusiness. Hailing from Wooster, in beautiful Wayne County, Ohio, Sean is a graduate of Hillsdale High School. He is one of 14 seniors from the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership to be selected as an ACEL Distinguished Senior.

Why did you choose your major?
I chose agriscience education because more than anything I am passionate about developing rural communities and investing in their growth. That starts with the students of these areas and their teachers provide a huge impact on them.

Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
When I began looking at colleges, I was set on leaving the state and going somewhere new. However, I still wanted to at least tour Ohio State before I decided. As I walked down the path from the Oval to Mirror Lake on my tour as a senior in high school, I looked around and just felt like I was at ‘home.’ I didn’t really know how to describe it but I knew from that moment on I wasn’t going anywhere else.

 What classes did you enjoy the most?
I think my favorite class I have ever taken is probably human and animal interactions. It was an amazing class taught by great professors, and it gave me a real appreciation and understanding of the relationship we have as agriculturalists with the animals we care for and use. It was a class that made me think more critically and really appreciate all of our four-legged friends out there. Not to mention, the behind the scenes zoo and farm tours were pretty neat.

What student organizations were you involved in as a Buckeye?
I have been a member of the Agricultural Education Society, the vice-president of finance with FarmHouse Fraternity, and involved with H20 Campus Missions. I have also worked at the Jerome Schottenstein Center where I was a janitor for the men’s and women’s basketball teams (one of the best jobs ever!) and up until student teaching, I worked at the other best job ever, as a student worker in the amazing ACEL department.

Overseeing the ACEL offices.

What internships did you complete and how did they help you decide what you did or did not want to do after graduation?
I have held one summer long internship with Teach Ag Ohio, where I was able to travel around Ohio and meet students in diverse agricultural classrooms and teach them about career opportunities within agriculture. I have also held an internship for going on four years now with Wayne Savings Community Bank where I have learned the importance of an independent, community based financial institution. My primary role there has been within the agricultural business field, where I am a member of the commercial lending team in which we help make financial dreams of our customers and farmers a reality. These internships have helped me see that I am passionate for people and communities in rural Ohio and I want to spend the rest of my life helping develop these areas.

Talking with FFA members about careers in agriculture at the Ohio FFA Convention.

Speaking with high school students about careers in agriculture.

What stands out as your best college memory?
My favorite Ohio State memory is probably all the times my fraternity brothers and I spent late nights exploring and taking in campus. Nothing made me appreciate the beauty of the Oval and Mirror Lake more than our late-night walks where we got to share great conversations, and even better company. How firm thy friendship!

With fraternity brother Ryan.

Why should someone else consider your major at Ohio State?
Anyone who has a passion for developing rural communities should consider this major. If you are someone who wants to make a huge impact in rural youths’ lives you absolutely should be in agriscience education at THE Ohio State University.

What do you plan to do after graduation?
After I graduate, I hope to continue to teach agriculture, or to continue to help farmers and business owners grow at Wayne Savings Community Bank.


News Release: ACEL names 2021 Distinguished Seniors

The Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) has named 14 students to the third class of ACEL Distinguished Seniors in 2021. These students were selected by the faculty and staff of the Department for their excellence both in and out of the classroom.

2021 ACEL Distinguished Seniors include:

Kolt Buchenroth, agricultural communication of Kenton
Sean Fitzsimmons, agriscience education of Wooster
Melanie Fuhrmann, community leadership of Wheelersburg
Solomon Garner, community leadership of Columbus
Courtney Heiser, agricultural communication of Attica
Allyson Irwin, community leadership of Jackson
Shea Leeper, agricultural communication of Marysville
Brenna Loxley, agriscience education of Arcanum
Allyson McCurdy, community leadership of Marion
Olivia Pflaumer, agriscience education of Chillicothe
Milan Pozderac, agriscience education of Fredericktown
Paige Schaffter, agriscience education, of Edon
Deja Reid, community leadership, of Columbus
Kayla Ritter, community leadership, of Brookville

“ACEL has outstanding students and we are excited to recognize these 14 seniors for their exceptional efforts in and outside of theclassrooms,” said Dr. Shannon Washburn, professor and chair of ACEL. “ We know they will succeed in their chosen career paths because of the dedication they have shown to their academics and community involvement.”

The ACEL Distinguished Seniors will be recognized at the Department’s virtual recognition program in April.

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

Ohio State agriscience education seniors complete student teaching around Ohio

2021 ASE Student Teachers

Each year the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education and Leadership (ACEL) at the Ohio State University sends students to high schools around the state for 12 weeks to gain real world experience in the classroom. This year, 22 agricultural education programs welcomed student teachers who are seniors in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and agriscience education majors.

“’Doing to learn’ is a key part of the motto for the National FFA Organization, so it only makes sense for our agriscience education student teachers to be in the classroom environment getting hands on experience,” said Dr. Shannon Washburn, professor of agriscience education and chair of ACEL. “Student teaching prepares our students for their future roles in the classroom by allowing them to lead an agriscience education program with the aid of experienced agriscience teachers. Aside from carrying out lesson plans in a classroom, agriculture teachers serve as FFA advisors where they host chapter meetings, help students with career development events, and coach competition teams. This experience allows them to see into their future and get excited for the next step in their career.”

The participating students and schools are as follows:


Haley Back – Highland High School

Hayley Black – Meadowbrook High School

Nicole Biery – Northeastern High School

Micayla Fincham – Northwestern High School

Sean Fitzsimmons – Smithville High School

Jessie Howald – Caldwell High School

Seth Johnson – Tecumseh High School

Brenna Loxley – Edgewood High School

Samantha McAllister – Gamble Montessori High School

Rebecca McCarty – Hilsdale High School

Adrianne McPhillips – Urbana High School

Maddi Morlock – Otsego High School

Olivia Pflaumer – Global Impact STEM Academy

Milan Pozderac – Fairfield Union High School

MaKayla Risner – River Valley High School

Travis Rutledge – Edison High School

Paige Schaffter – Pettisville High School

Robert Selvey – Tiffin Sentinel CTC

Davis Sodders – Licking Valley High School

Katie Stokes – Bloom Carroll High School

Jamie Walter – West Muskingum High School

Ashlee Williams – Utica High School

Agriscience education is one of three undergraduate majors within ACEL. This major prepares students to acquire a license to teach agricultural science in secondary high schools through extensive training in agriculture science, educational psychology, instructional methods and youth development. For additional information on the agriscience education major or how you can make a financial contribution to student scholarships, visit



McMullen selected to serve on Agriculture Future of America Student Advisory Team


Nicole McMullen, a junior agriscience education major at The Ohio State University, has been selected to be a member of the Agriculture Future of American (AFA) Student Advisory Team. The Student Advisory Team is made up of 11 students from across the nation after a competitive application process.

AFA is a professional development organization for collegiate leaders and young professionals. Providing leader development, intern support and scholarships, AFA seeks to be a catalyst in the preparation of a new generation of agriculture leaders. A major component of the Student Advisory Team’s responsibilities is the planning and delivery of the 2021 AFA Leader Development Program, specifically the AFA Leaders Conference, held annually with more than 1,000 delegates from across the nation.

“Our department is extremely proud of Nicole for seeking out the opportunity to enhance her leadership skills with an organization like AFA,” said Dr. Shannon Washburn, professor and chair of the Department Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership. “Through her involvement with AFA, MANRRS and her internship experiences, she is preparing herself to be an outstanding agricultural educator to her future students.”

“I value the AFA leader development program because they provide a variety of opportunities to grow personally and professionally. These programs focus on having students look at things from a different perspective,” said McMullen. “I am excited to serve as an AFA student leader because I can network with individuals across the country. This will give me the opportunity to learn about the different aspects of the agriculture industry and gain a new perspective.”

McMullen’s entrance into the AFA leader development programs began in 2018 when she was selected to attend the AFA Leaders Conference as a freshman at the Ohio State ATI campus in Wooster, Ohio. Since then, she has attended the AFA Leaders Conference each year and participated in the AFA Leader Fellowship. In addition to her involvement with AFA, she has also been active in other organizations including Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), Admissions Ambassador for Ohio State ATI Institute and the Ohio Corn & Wheat Association.

About agriscience education
Agriscience education is one of three undergraduate majors within ACEL. This major prepares students to acquire a license to teach agricultural science in secondary schools through extensive training in agriculture science, educational psychology, instructional methods and youth development. For additional information on the agriscience education major or how you can make a financial contribution to student scholarships, visit

About AFA
AFA builds bridges for young leaders to foster engagement and innovation in food and agriculture. With program participation increasing 28% in the last five years, AFA has provided 21,000 leader development experiences to college leaders and young professionals from more than 200 colleges and universities throughout 43 states since its inception in 1996. AFA has awarded more than $10 million in academic and leader development scholarships. For more information about AFA, visit or contact Becca Frazier at