Alumni and graduate students earn NAE4-HYDP Awards

Congratulations to the following ACEL alumni and current graduate students who received awards from the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals (NAE4-HYDP) at their annual conference held earlier this fall.

Achievement in Service Award
Allison Cooper ‘11, ‘14 MS

Distinguished Service Award
Jamie McConnell ‘12 MS
Amanda Raines ‘17 MS
Katherine Wells, PhD student

Meritorious Service Award
Larry Hall ‘00 MS

25 Years of Service
Rebecca Barker ‘92, ‘01 MS

North Central Regional Excellence in Healthy Living
Programming Award
Amanda Raines ‘17 MS, Justin Bower ‘17, Heather Gottke ‘09, ‘13 MS

North Central Regional Team Promotional Package
Amanda Raines ‘17 MS, Jamie McConnell ‘12 MS, Jessica Rockey ‘02 MS, Beth Boomershine ‘00, ‘01 MS, Margo Long ‘11, PhD student, Cassie Anderson ‘02 MS, and Hannah Epley ‘14 PhD

2020 Autumn Semester Graduates

This past Sunday, Ohio State held it’s 426th Commencement Ceremony (and third virtual ceremony).
Our department had eight undergraduate students and six graduate students complete their undergraduate or graduate degrees at the end of Autumn Semester 2020.
Undergraduate students include:

Trent Baldwin
community leadership
Salinas, California

Lisa Brenner
community leadership
Sunbury, Ohio

Grace Daniels
community leadership
Massillon, Ohio

Josie Montoney
agricultural communication
Lancaster, Ohio

Madelynn Skillings
agricultural communication
South Charleston, Ohio

Jon Stepp
agricultural communication
Canal Winchester, Ohio

Kamala Sweeney
agricultural communication
Canal Winchester, Ohio

Rhiann Travis
agricultural communication
Poolville, Texas

Graduate students include:

Paige Andrews
Bloomville, Ohio

Alisha Barton
Tipp City, Ohio

Kenzie Johnston
Delaware, Ohio

Hank LeVan
Woodstock, Ohio

Abigail Sanders
Clarksville, Arkansas

Haley Shoemaker
Salem, Ohio

Congratulations to these students and thank you for allowing ACEL to be your academic home during your time at Ohio State! You will forever be an ACEL Buckeye!

Rumble named Outstanding Advisor at Ohio State ATI campus

Congratulations to Dr. Joy Rumble, assistant professor of agricultural communication, for being named the recipient of the Ohio State ATI Outstanding Advisor award.

Rumble advises ACEL students who attend our CFAES Wooster campus and teaches several of our agricultural communication undergraduate and graduate courses at both the Wooster and Columbus campuses.

Rumble joined the ACEL faculty in 2018. She is a three time graduate of Ohio State, which includes a master’s degree in agricultural communication from our department.

McMullen places first in regional interview contest

McMullen, 2020

Nicole McMullen, a junior studying agriscience education, earned the top award in the interview contest during the virtual Region V Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Cluster. She will represent Ohio State and Region V at the National MANRRS Conference this spring.

MANRRS is a national society of people of all racial and ethnical groups in agricultural and related science careers with a focus on promoting these fields in a positive manner among ethnic minorities.

The interview contest is an opportunity to practice real-life skills needed to apply for a job. Participants prepare a resume and cover letter for a job they chose from the Interview Contest Job Descriptions. Contestants are also evaluated on their performance during a mock interview.

The goal of this contest is for participants to consistently meet and practice the skills that bring the benefits of comfort in interview scenarios; confidence, critical thinking, effective verbal and written communication, impromptu speaking, self-esteem and non-verbal practice and awareness.

“We are proud of Nicole for the growth and effort she put forward to lead to success in this contest,” said Dr. Shannon Washburn, professor of agriscience education and chair for the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership. “Participation in organizations like MANRRS and the opportunities they provide to students are valuable in the development of their careers. Nicole will benefit greatly from this experience as she enters the agricultural education profession.”

In 2019, McMullen was awarded first place in the impromptu speech contest for Region V. She completed a virtual internship this past summer with John Deere, which she obtained during a career fair at the 2019 Region V MANRRS Cluster at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

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

News Release: Landaverde receives international fellowship

Rafael Quijada Landaverde, graduate associate and doctoral student in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) at The Ohio State University was named one of seven recipients of the Kirchner Food Fellowship.

The Kirchner Food Fellowship is a pioneer in the lean investment movement, harnessing the power of highly-committed millennial talent to find, fund and assist promising socially-responsible, for-profit agricultural businesses. Through the use of a “real-world, real-time, real-money” model the program has proven that it is possible for newly formed investment teams to become effective venture capital allocators in a matter of months. The combination of compressed learning time frames and low operating costs makes it possible to more cost efficiently deploy smart and impactful capital in parts of the world where angel capital is needed most.

As the model spreads beyond North America, the Fellowship partners with local groups to establish resident teams in less developed economies. The program strengthens in-region capital allocation capacity, the apex element of any healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem that is well-networked into the global financial markets.

“We are excited for Rafael to be selected as recipient of this highly regarded fellowship,” said Dr. Shannon Washburn, professor and chair of ACEL. “His knowledge, talents, and experience will be an asset to his cohort and participating partners.”

The importance of the program has been greatly highlighted by COVID-19 and the worldwide focus on food security, from organizations, countries and regions. The program combines access to decades of institutional impact investment experience and the innovative problem-based learning approach honed over the last seven years. Landaverde will be part of the 2020-2021 cohort based in Mexico. The other is based out of the United States.

“Our selection process gets more and more difficult each year as the program’s profile grows, expanding our remarkable applicant pool,” commented Blair Kirchner, Director. “The fellowship will commence in early September, concurrent with the next Kirchner Investment Academy, a unique program designed to demystify investment for entrepreneurs and young professionals.”

Landaverde is a graduate of Texas Tech University, where he earned a master of science in agricultural education, and a graduate of Zamorano University in Honduras with a bachelor of science in environment and development.

Students in the ACEL graduate program at Ohio State may specialize in agricultural communication, agricultural education, community and extension education, international development or leadership. The agricultural communication, education, and leadership graduate program offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science, Master of Education and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. The Doctor of Philosophy degree prepares students for careers as administrators, specialists, university faculty and researchers.

ACEL Social Media Ambassadors

Do you love Ohio State and ACEL? Are you social media savvy? Do you love telling stories? Do you speak emoji? Can you narrate a TikTok?

The Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership is looking to establish a team of “social media ambassadors” who can share the unique viewpoint of being a student at The Ohio State University.

Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in an ACEL major or minor who are interested in social media, photography, video production, blogging and creativity are invited to apply. We encourage all students to apply to show the diverse perspective of our students.


  • Must be a student enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program within ACEL*
  • Able to effectively communicate our Buckeye pride through various media platforms
  • Maintain professional work habits (dependable, team player, responsible)
  • Interested in performing social media ambassador duties for fall and spring semester

*Students with an ACEL minor may apply.


  • Brainstorm and create content for ACEL social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, blogs and other outlets
  • Work closely with ACEL communication professionals to follow university, college and department branding
  • Spread ACEL’s message through shares, likes and comments
  • Time commitment is approximately 1-2 hours per month


  • Communication and social media experience that can be shared with potential employers
  • Increase awareness of ACEL majors, courses, student organizations and opportunities
  • Share a real-time student perspective of life as an ACEL student
  • Exposure to social media brand strategy and new platforms through practice and training

Application Process

Sanders defends master’s project

Join us in congratulating Abby Sanders on the recent successful defense of her master’s project “Branding in Higher Education: Arkansas Tech University Department of Agriculture.”
Dr. Annie Specht served as Abby’s advisor and Dr. Emily Buck was her committee member.
Congratulations Abby!

News Release: Shaffter awarded national agricultural education scholarship

Paige Schaffter, a senior in agriscience education from Edon, Ohio, has been selected for the 2020 Upper Division Agricultural Education Scholarship from the National Association of Agricultural Educators.

NAAE awards the $1,500 scholarships to twenty students across the United States. The purpose of the scholarship is to offset expenses during the recipients’ student teaching experience and selection was based on academic performance, as well as on leadership and service activities. Schaffter will be student teaching with Pettisville High School in Pettisville, Ohio during the 2021 Spring Semester.

“We are thrilled to hear that Paige has been selected as a recipient of this scholarship,” said Dr. Shannon Washburn, professor and chair of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership at The Ohio State University. “Paige is deserving of this national recognition and this scholarship will help her as she works in a full-time student teacher position with evening and weekend responsibilities that are part of the agricultural education profession.”

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.

Whittington selected as president-elect of NACTA professional society

Dr. M. Susie Whittington, professor of agriscience education in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL), has been selected as president-elect of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agricultural (NACTA). NACTA, which was formed in 1955 as a professional society, focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning in agriculture and related disciplines at the postsecondary level. Members of NACTA are from two-year and four-year colleges, both public and private.

Whittington will serve as president-elect for 2020-2021 and will take over leadership of the organization at the 2021 annual conference, which is scheduled to be held at Ohio State’s Wooster campus in June 2021.

Since joining the department in 2000, Whittington has taught a variety of courses in the agriscience education major, preparing students to become high school agricultural educators through teaching methods, cultural proficiency, and program planning, as well as graduate courses in data collection and in advanced teaching methods.

In addition to her faculty role with ACEL, Whittington serves as executive director for Ohio State’s Second-Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP), which is a university-wide program focused on student success and development that allows students opportunities to engage in high impact practices that cater to their individual interests and needs.

“We are so proud in ACEL and Ohio State to have our very own Dr. Susie Whittington serve as president in this premier international organization,” said Dr. Scott Scheer, professor and interim chair of ACEL. “NACTA is fortunate to have Dr. Whittington in this role because she brings in a wealth of national and university leadership experience from serving as president in the American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE) to the university-wide Director of STEP at Ohio State. NACTA will certainly thrive and improve with Dr. Whittington as its president.”

“As a member of NACTA since the early 1990s, my teaching has benefitted from the talent and expertise of its members,” said Whittington. “I look forward to giving-back and to paying forward to a society that has given so much to me.”

Whittington is a three time graduate of Ohio State, earning bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in agricultural education in 1982, 1988 and 1991, respectively.

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

Faculty and graduate students represent ACEL at virtual NACTA conference

Congratulations to our ACEL faculty and graduate students who represented our department so well at the annual NACTA (North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture) virtual conference held last week.

Dr. Susie Whittington, professor of agriscience education, was announced as the 2020 President-Elect.

Dr. Mary Rodriguez, assistant professor of community leadership, was recognized with a 2020 Educator Award.

Paper presented include:
“Comparing agriculture students’ migration intentions in El Salvador and Honduras” by Amy Boren Alpizar, Pablo Lamiño Jaramillo, and current ACEL Ph.D. student Rafael Landaverde (while student at Texas Tech).

“Evaluating the impact of an educational intervention on farmers in El Salvador” by current Ph.D. student Rafael Landaverde (while a student at Texas Tech), Amy E. Boren-Alpìzar, Sarahi Morales, Matt Baker and John Rayfield.

“Limitations and Opportunities of 4-H Clubs in Honduras: A Stakeholders View” by current Ph.D. student

Rafael Landaverde, Amy Boren-Alpizar, Stephen Brady, Dustin Homan, Patricia Arce and Marjorie Mayr.

“Student Perceptions Abroad: The Impacts of Climate Change in Trinidad & Tobago” by Ph.D. Rafael Landaverde and Mary Rodriguez.

Posters presented include:
“A Mixed-Methods Study on Teaching Methods for Andragogy on Gene-Editing Technology” by master’s student Robert Thiel, Amanda Bowling and Joy Rumble.

“A National Multi-Decade Look at Trends for Graduates of Agriculture and the Related Sciences” by Ph.D. student Aaron Giorgi and M. Susie Whittington.

“Autonomy, Collaboration, and Personal Development through a Capstone in Leadership” by master’s student Summer McLain, Jera Niewoehner-Green and master’s student Paige Andrews.

“A University Level Exploration of First-Generation Students of Agriculture and Related Sciences” by Ph.D. student Aaron Giorgi, M. Susie Whittington and Anne McDaniel.