Meet the Faculty: Tracy Kitchel

Although just recently hired to the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership as a professor and the chair of the department, Dr. Kitchel is anything but the new kid on the block. Before graduating with both his bachelor’s and

1998 Top 10 Seniors of CFAES

1998 Top 10 Seniors of CFAES

master’s degrees from The Ohio State University in 1998 and 1998 respectively, Dr. Kitchel was an active and involved student. His resume included being the president of Ag Ed Society, the president of Phalanx (today known as CFAES ambassadors), and a brother of Alpha Tau Zeta, (now FarmHouse Fraterntiy, ATZ Chapter), just to name a few.

After graduation in 1999 Dr. Kitchel spent a few years teaching agriculture and serving as the FFA advisor at Archbold High School where he met his wife Laura, who at the time was the choir teacher across the hall.

2013 National FFA Board of Directors

2013 National FFA Board of Directors

Returning back to school to earn his PhD in agricultural education from the University of Missouri in 2002, Dr. Kitchel then spent the next decade teaching both undergraduate and graduate classes, serving as director of graduate studies, as well as serving as assistant vice provost for graduate and postdoctoral affairs. His work took him to the University of Kentucky as well as back to the University of Missouri.

“When I had the opportunity to return home in a role allowing me to provide leadership for a department where I fell in love with higher education, I jumped at the chance. My career has come full circle from Ohio to Missouri to Kentucky back to Missouri and now back to Ohio,” Kitchel said.

Growing up on a hog and crops farm in northern Preble County, Dr. Kitchel was involved in 4-H and FFA. He attributes this background as being the guiding factor of pursing a career in agricultural education. To students, Dr. Kitchel advises to get involved in as much as you can and to study abroad, as travel will never be this affordable at any other time in your life. While grades are important, he is a firm believer that there is a lot of learning to be had outside of the classroom.

A movie buff in his spare time, the Dr. Kitchel says his basement is decorated in movie posters such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. For vacation, Tracy and his wife Laura – along with their two daughters Isabel and Violet -love going to Disney World. 

Tracy, wife Laura, and daughters Isabel and Violet at Disneyworld meeting Chewbaca from Star Wars.

Tracy, wife Laura, and daughters Isabel and Violet at Disneyworld meeting Chewbaca from Star Wars.

Meet Our Graduate Students: Amy Jo Baughman

Growing up on a small sheep farm in Bloomingburg, Ohio with her parents and two younger sisters, Amy Jo Baughman kept busy through 4-H, sports, music, FFA, and other school and church organizations. When it was time to pick a college, Amy Jo was unsure if Ohio State would be a good fit, but after visiting campus in 2009, Amy Jo realized that The Ohio State University was the perfect place for her.

Beginning her undergraduate career with a major in agriscience education, Amy Jo jumped right into college life by joining student organizations while also serving as a state FFA officer. Taking her second year off of school to travel and serve as the 2010-11 Ohio FFA State President, Amy Jo discloses that while it was definitely challenging, she learned so much about herself, service, leadership, and agriculture during that year.

Returning to Ohio State to finish her bachelor’s degree, Amy Jo spent some time soul-searching, and encouraged by her advisor, she applied and was accepted to graduate school at OSU. As she took a hard look at all that she had learned

AJB Photo

Amy Jo and her friend are all smiles.

and felt passionate about, she realized that she wanted her graduate research and degree to involve an international component. Having traveled to Honduras twice on study abroad, and twice with her home church, Amy Jo was passionate about Honduras as well as agriscience education. From these interests grew her master’s thesis entitled “The Vocational Agriculture Needs of Students in Choluteca, Honduras.” Spending two years in graduate school, Amy Jo completed her thesis in May of 2016, and will earn her Master’s Degree in Agriculture and Extension Education with a specialization in international development in August 2016.

Throughout graduate school she served on the Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) Graduate Student Association as the Council of Graduate Students (CGS) representative. She also worked with faculty Jill Arnett and Dr. King in various roles.

Amy Jo’s graduate experience led to a full-time job in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Office of Prospective Student Services, which she recently started. She is looking forward to working with prospective students and their families and bringing a new perspective to student recruitment and development.

As she reflects on her journey, she looks back at her high school self – the girl who was so unsure and didn’t think OSU was for her – and she is so thankful that by God’s grace she ended up at Ohio State. OSU, CFAES, and ACEL have brought opportunity, life lessons, and relationships that have led to her career, friends, and marriage. As she sums it up, “I am so thankful for this University and for the wonderfully amazing people who work tirelessly every single day to make these opportunities a reality for you and me. Go Bucks!”


To learn more about graduate opportunities within ACEL, contact Mary Kivel by emailing

Dear Leah…football Saturdays

Dear Leah

Q: What are some of the fun things to do, or traditions to take part in, on Buckeye Football game days?

A: As Buckeyes, we take game day very seriously. It’s good to have your closet stocked full with enough scarlet and grey attire to clothe an army. You can never have too much scarlet and grey.


Spellilng out “O-H-I-O”-another Buckeye tradition!

Once you’re dressed in the most spirited outfit you can assemble, then it’s time to start with the festivities. Usually on the Thursday before a game, the setup starts on campus with tents and trailers popping up everywhere. By Friday, parking lots are roped off in preparation for all of the dedicated tailgaters who will start arriving to campus in the early morning hours on Saturday. Tailgating for Ohio State football games is taken seriously by many, and the parking lots surrounding the Shoe are always packed full with tents, trailers, tv’s, lawnchairs, couches, food, cornhole…you name it, it’s probably at the tailgate.

Before every game, there is a Skull Session held in St. John’s arena. Skull Session, originally just a “warm-up” for the marching band, has turned into a pep-rally and pump-up session for players, band members, and fans alike as the football team stops by on their way to the stadium. St. John’s arena is chock full with the excited energy of fans, and Urban Meyer and usually a senior football player will address the crowd. Following the Skull Session, the football team walks together into the Shoe as they begin final preparations before taking the field.

Just minutes before kickoff, another infamous Ohio State tradition transpires: Script Ohio. The band’s members wind and weave their way through each other to spell out in cursive, “Ohio.” To dot the “i,” a senior sousaphone player gets the honor as they spin, bow down, and flip back up to the roar of the crowd. Script Ohio is an impressive tradition to witness, so my advice is don’t wait until kickoff to get to your seat!


The marching band performing 4 Script Ohio’s with the addition of alumni members.



Summer McCracken and Leah Schwinn ready for some Ohio State football.

Undoubtedly my favorite football tradition is the singing of Carmen Ohio after every game, win or lose. After the final seconds of the game tick off the clock, the football team all gathers down at the South end of the stadium in front of the band and Block O South, which is the main student section. Everyone stands and wraps their arms around each other as the band plays and the whole stadium sings the words to Carmen Ohio.

Game day makes you so proud and honored to call yourself a Buckeye. The best part is simply the atmosphere and constant vibe of excitement among everyone. OH-IO is shouted out more times than you can count, and campus is alive and buzzing with people covered head to toe in scarlet and grey. Luckily for us students, the first home game of the year is only 18 days away! Go Bucks!



The “Dear Leah” column is written by agricultural communication senior Leah Schwinn. You can submit a student life related question at

Meet the Faculty: Jeff King

From spending a summer in college traveling the United States with the real “Elsie the Cow,” to serving as the state 4-H director, Dr. Jeff King has quite the extensive resume.

Reared on a Jersey dairy farm, Dr. King’s family also raised and showed Belgian draft horses. Heading off to college, Dr. King kept agriculture a prominent part of his life as he majored in agriculture education and dairy science at The Ohio State University. Once out of school, Dr. King taught vocational agriculture at United High School in Columbiana County. After teaching for several years, he took the position of 4-H educator in Columbiana County, and then later transferred to Clark County.

From his role in Clark County, Dr. King returned to Ohio State to work on his Ph.D. in extension education. Not long thereafter Dr. King became the associate state 4-H director, then the state 4-H director. Now as an associate professor at Ohio State within the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership, Dr. King teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes that are primarily based upon leadership. In addition, he also conducts leadership seminars and workshops outside the department. His expertise in the areas of organizational and staff leadership development led to successful contributions to Extension at The Ohio State University.

A native of Fremont, Ohio, Dr. King now lives in Columbus with his wife, Jill, and their two daughters, Ashley and Megan. In his spare time, Dr. King enjoys showing Belgian draft horses with daughter Ashley, and “thrifting” with his wife.


Jeff King and his family celebrating his daughter’s graduation.

Meet Our Graduate Students: Karen Argabright

Janer and Vicki

Karen in her element…with horses.

Karen Argabright, a graduate research associate, got her start in agriculture in Shelby County, Ohio where she grew up on a crop and livestock farm. Having earned her associate’s degree from Ohio State’s Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI) in horse production and management with a specialty in reproduction, Karen worked in the equine industry for the next nine years. She spent time in North Carolina, Texas, and Ohio as she managed herds of both Clydesdales and performance quarter horses.

In 2007, Karen moved back to Ohio where she finished her bachelor’s degree in animal science at Ohio State while managing a small farm in Pataskala, Ohio. Three years later in 2010, Karen began her master’s degree in agricultural extension education with a focus in organizational leadership. During her studies she worked on the topic of developing emotional intelligence, and examined Onboarding in OSU extension. Her thesis topic was assessing organizational values within The Ohio State University Extension system.

Upon completion of her master’s degree, Karen stayed at Ohio State as she began her PhD research for her doctoral program in 2012. As a part of her doctoral program, Karen has either worked on or is currently working on the following projects: continuing focus on Onboarding in Ohio State extension, collaborating on a multi-state study that assesses the organizational culture within Extension’s North Central Region, and collaborating with a steering committee for a Strategic Foresight project looking at the future of extension.

Karen says that throughout her academic career she has had a lot of really valuable hands-on experience by working directly with the people that her projects would impact the most. She says that, “I was brought to the realm of organizational development research to fulfill a passion for helping people and organizations discover and achieve their optimal potential.”

Karen’s personal hobbies include helping on the farm, repurposing, tending to her many house plants, cooking, traveling, and exploring new places.


To learn more about graduate opportunities within ACEL, contact Mary Kivel by emailing

Meet the Faculty: Tom Stewart

TSS Headshot

Tom Stewart

“A Lecturer at The Ohio State University.” After hearing that title, it would be normal to make assumptions about the journey that person took to get in that position. Possible assumptions would include years of graduate school and a passion and fervor for research. However, Tom Stewart’s story is a little different.

Graduating from Ohio State in 1972 with his bachelor’s degree in communication and education, Tom went to work for the advertising company that was in charge of McDonald’s restaurants, J. Scott Corporation.

Having a passion for the broadcasting business, Tom only stayed with J. Scott agency for four years. Beginning in 1976 Tom started his broadcasting and media career as a local account executive for WBNS Radio. For the next twenty-five years, Tom stayed in the media world, with positions at WBNS Radio and WBNS-TV. At one point within that almost three decade time period, Tom served as the youngest major market radio station general manager in the United States. Another accomplishment of Tom’s was winning the right to be the exclusive radio voice of The Ohio State Buckeye Athletic Department. Through this, Ohio State football and basketball coverage became a prominent part of the radio station’s programming. Serving as general manager for both WBNS Radio and WBNS- TV, Tom helped guide the stations to dominance.

Retiring at the close of 2001 as the senior executive of WBNS, Tom pursued a long-term goal of his: teaching. Returning back to Ohio State, Tom became a lecturer in the Department of Human and Community Resource Development (now known as Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership.) Working with students for over ten years, Tom teaches courses like public speaking and public relations.

A favorite lecturer among students who have taken his class, Tom makes it a priority to connect with students and make them the reason he teaches. Outside of class and his numerous other obligations, Tom loves his wife of over 35 years, and adores spending time with his two daughters’ families, including his two grandsons.


Dear Leah…hindsight 20/20

Dear Leah

Q: What are some things you wished you would have known before coming to college?

A: The first thing that came to mind when I heard that question, was- “CHEMISTRY!” Let me explain- at freshman orientation, I was still undecided on what undergrad major I wanted to pursue. While scheduling for fall classes, an advisor told me that most majors require chemistry, so most likely I would end up needing it, and that it was best to take it early and get it over with. So although I was already enrolled in a calculus course, I signed up for chemistry as well. I took them both in high school so how bad could it be, right? Wrong. After about the first week of chemistry, everything I thought I knew about the subject flew out the window. The same went for calculus. My days and nights consisted of flip flopping between calculus and chemistry homework, going to office hours to try and make sense of whatever I was supposed to be doing, and trying to convince myself that I wasn’t a failure and was not going to drop out of college. Three years later as I look back at my first semester course load, I’m thankful. Having college thrown at me with two very difficult classes, and an 18-hour credit load, I learned from the get-go that it’s a personal decision whether you are going to sink or swim in college. It all depends on how much work you are willing to put it. As it turns out, my major doesn’t require me taking chemistry. However that class taught me early on in college how to study correctly, how to take college tests, and how to efficiently time manage. Those lessons I learned while stressing out my first semester have been crucial to my success in every semester since then.

My second thought after reading your question was: CABS buses. CABS is the transportation system for students on campus. There are 6 different bus routes that wind their way through campus, and to me, the system seemed very intimidating as I arrived to Columbus as a freshman. The bus names-CLN, CLS, NE, ER, BV, and MC- meant nothing to me as I tried to figure out which one to take to get to my final destination across campus. I just kept thinking how much easier and simpler life would be if I would have already known how the bus system worked before moving in to college. As it turns out however, not knowing was a blessing in disguise. One of my roommates and I decided one night at the beginning of the semester that we were going to just hop on the buses and see where they took us so then we would know for future reference. That night of sitting in the back of six different buses as we just rode around campus was filled with laughter and bonding that resulted in her being one of the best friends I’ve made at college. We still look back on that night and laugh-yet had we already known the bus system, that night would have never happened.

Although, while going through college I have come across many things I “wish I would have known,” the truth is that most of those things have turned into better stories and learning experiences because I hadn’t known them.

Long story short, there’s a lot of advice out there on how best to be prepared for college. Everyone can tell you their best tips and tricks for navigating the crazy and hectic world of college, but the truth is that the best way to survive and thrive in college is by just jumping in and tackling everything college throws at you head-on. I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes the best way you can prepare for something is to not be prepared. (Now don’t tell your professor I told you this after you get a failing grade on an exam that you “prepared for” by not preparing.) However, I believe that personal experience is the best way to learn anything, so take a deep breath, put a smile on your face, and don’t freak out. Know that thousands of other incoming freshmen are feeling the exact same way as you, so there is no need to worry. Best of luck-now go enjoy college!


The “Dear Leah” column is written by agricultural communication senior Leah Schwinn. You can submit a student life related question at

Where Are They Now: Meg Bennett


Graduating with a degree in agricultural communication from Ohio State in 2015, Meg Bennett has since landed a job at FLM+ in the Dublin area as an Associate Client Relationship Team Leader (ACRTL). FLM+ is a consulting, marketing, and communications company that specializes in agriculture and environmental sMeghan_Bennett_0003ciences to help improve the lives and health of plants, animals, people and communities. As part of their ag retail team, Meg helps to manage both internal client teams as well as client relationships in order to deliver wide-open thinking, world-class work, and far-reaching results to both meet and exceed the needs of FLM+’s clients.

While a student at Ohio State, Meg was heavily involved in various organizations including Alpha Zeta Partners, Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority, and Agriculture Future of America (AFA) – just to name a few. As a senior she served as the 2015 AgriNaturalist editor.

Now an alumna, Meg enjoys spending her weekends back home on the farm in Shelby County, Ohio. She has stayed active with both Sigma Alpha and AFA where she currently serves as vice president of Ohio State’s Sigma Alpha Alumni Chapter and is a member of the Forty Chances Fellows Legacy Committee, which is affiliated with AFA.

Having been graduated for a full year, Meg has had time to look back on her college years. When asked what she misses most about her time spent at Ohio State, Meg said she will always remember the time she spent abroad with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences faculty, staff and students in Costa Rica, Brazil, and the United Kingdom.


Dear Leah…CFAES Organizations

Dear Leah

Q: What different groups or organizations should I get involved in through the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences?

A:  Luckily for you, the answer to your question is a long list! No matter what your interest, there is a club or organization that I’m sure will provide the perfect fit!

Within the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, there are various ways to get involved with a group of people who have the same kind of passion you do.

To start off with, there are academic teams to join that allow you to learn while also practicing skills you might already know. While there over 15 different teams to choose from, a few include the food product development team, weeds team, or even judging teams such as livestock, meat, horse, dairy, and soil.

Men of Alpha Gamma Rho

CFAES also has six different Greek organizations. There are four agricultural fraternities for the men to choose from, including Alpha Gamma Rho, Alpha Gamma Sigma, FarmHouse, and Delta Theta Sigma. As for the ladies, there are two agricultural sororities- Alpha Sigma Upsilon and Sigma Alpha. Greek life allows students an in-depth way to connect with their peers in organizations that are committed to brotherhood/sisterhood.

A few honoraries are offered as well, a couple of which are Alpha Zeta Partners and Towers Agricultural Honorary. These honoraries are committed to service to the College and the surrounding community.


Class ’17 Members of AZP doing Saturday community service at a Columbus homeless shelter.

The majority of the organizations on the CFAES campus are under the big umbrella category of “academic organizations.” With nearly 50 different groups to choose from, chances are you’ll find at least one that will be a fit for you! Some groups, such as Agribusiness Club, Agricultural Systems Management Club, or the Pre-Vet Club are geared towards students within those majors, although anyone is welcome to join, no matter your major! There are also clubs focused on different animals, such as the Buckeye Dairy Club, Collegiate Cattlewomen, or Saddle and Sirloin Club.



Saddle and Sirloin teaching the public about sheep.

As you can see, while I only listed a few of the groups or organizations within CFAES that you could join, there are many more! The full list of which can be viewed at Campus Life: Clubs and Organizations. My best advice is to join as many as you can juggle while still focusing on classes, personal life, work, or whatever else your schedule might hold! Your best college friends and best college memories are waiting for you among these organizations!

Meet Our Graduate Students: Elizabeth Hustead


Elizabeth Hustead

After graduating with a master’s degree in agronomy from the University of Florida, Elizabeth Hustead came to Ohio State where she graduated this past May with her second master’s degree, this time in agricultural communication. Having spent the past two years in the Department of Agricultural Education, Communication, and Leadership (ACEL), Elizabeth is now out in the real world where she has begun her career in the position of social marketing coordinator in Ohio SNAP-Ed.

Elizabeth’s research at Ohio State was the flagship project of an innovative partnership between ACEL and the Center for Applied Plant Sciences (CAPS). She worked with CAPS’s scientific research teams to pilot a cutting-edge communications platform aimed at facilitating collaborative research within and across geographically dispersed teams.

In her current position as a social marketing coordinator, Elizabeth works with SNAP-Ed offices throughout the state to launch a social marketing campaign promoting fruit and vegetable consumption among SNAP recipients with children.

SNAP-Ed is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It’s goal is to: “improve the likelihood that persons eligible for SNAP will make healthy choices within a limited budget and choose active lifestyles consistent with the current dietary guidelines for Americans and MyPlate.”

Elizabeth says that her ACEL degree and the connections she made during her time as a graduate research student were instrumental in discovering her passion for food security issues and securing her position in social marketing, which she loves.

To learn more about graduate opportunities within ACEL, contact Mary Kivel by emailing