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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.