ACEL Distinguished Senior: Kayla Ritter

Kayla Ritter is a senior studying community leadership with a specialization in leadership. Originally from Brookville, Ohio, Kayla is a graduate of Troy Christian High School. She is one of 14 seniors from the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership to be selected as an ACEL Distinguished Seniors.

Why did you choose your major?
I knew I wanted to serve the community in a ministry capacity, but I did not know how to do that at a college that didn’t offer that major. Community leadership was a perfect major to help equip me to pursue this in the future while learning about non-profits and how they work. As well, I grew up in agriculture and knew I wanted to be a CFAES student, so this was a perfect place for me!

Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
I grew up as a Buckeye and had always dreamed of being an Ohio State student. I originally was on a pre-vet track but changed to pursue ministry. Even though this change could have pushed me in a different direction, I felt sure that I wanted to continue with my plan to attend Ohio State.

What classes did you enjoy the most?
My favorite classes were those that pertained to learning leadership styles and contexts. Specifically, I really enjoyed Team Leadership and Organization with Greg Davis and Introduction to Leadership with Dr. N-G!

What student organizations were you involved in as a student?
Co-leader and vice president of Delight Ministries at Ohio State and a CFAES Study Abroad Ambassador

Share about your internships.
I interned in Costa Rica for the summer of 2019, where I worked with a mission’s pastor to provide support for their ministry. This internship confirmed for me that I wanted to work in ministry, but also showed me that I want to work within the context of the United States, at least for the time being.

What stands out as your best college memory?
I studied abroad in May of 2019 to Australia, where we learned about human impacts on the environment and got to travel up the coast to see different ecological areas.

Why should someone else consider your major at Ohio State?
This major is extremely versatile, allowing you to learn a variety of skills that would be useful in both nonprofit and for-profit businesses. I really enjoyed the diverse backgrounds of the staff and all the experiences they brought to the classroom, as well as the diverse paths the students plan to take after graduation.

What do you plan to do after graduation?
I have accepted the position of Regional Director in Austin, TX with Delight Ministries.

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Deja Reid

Deja Reid is a senior studying community leadership with a specialization in community and extension education. From Columbus, Ohio, Deja is a graduate of Columbus Alternative High School. She is one of 14 seniors from the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership to be selected as an ACEL Distinguished Seniors.

Why did you choose your major?
I chose community leadership as my major because I was very interested in the idea of education for kids outside of the classroom. My experience in the Homework Help Center at the Columbus Metropolitan Library showed me how much I appreciated being in an environment where kids sought help with their homework and where the community stepped in to help. I saw community leadership as a way to bring together my passions of education, working with youth, and my community.

Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
Ohio State was my ultimate choice for college because of the vast opportunities I saw for myself here. I did not have a major at the time I enrolled, so I wanted a university that had as many majors as possible. I also wanted to feel comfortable and supported as a Black student, so the Multicultural Center and Office of Diversity and Inclusion were big draws for me.

What classes did you enjoy the most?
The classes I enjoyed the most were elective general education courses. I took a R&B and Hip-Hop course that was taught by Dr. Ted McDaniel. I also enjoyed my Intro to Sociology course with Dr. Eric Schoon and the Making America Modern history course with Dr. Bart Elmore.

What student organizations have you been involved in as a student?
I started freshman year in the Mount Leadership Society scholars program and have been involved with that all four years. I was a committee member in the wellness and activities committee, then during my second year, I co-chaired the leadership and training committee where we developed and executed leadership events for the students in the program. I also have been a Diversity Ambassador (DA) in Undergraduate Admissions since my freshman year. As DAs, we engage with high school students who are in underrepresented groups here on campus. We share about the university, help with applications, and field any questions about being a student at Ohio State.

What internships did you complete and how did they help you decide what you did or did not want to do after graduation?
I’ve had two internships during my college time. The first was during the summer before my junior year at New Haven Reads in New Haven, CT. This internship was my first experience seeing behind the scenes of a nonprofit going. This time was great for me because it gave me more experience working with kids in a non-school setting which is what I aspire to do. During this time, I created lessons and taught mini classes in math and drama. It was a great experience for me to hone skills in lesson planning and leading groups of children.

My current internship is with Junior Achievement of Central Ohio on the Marketing and Development team. Before beginning this internship, I had little experience in marketing and had no idea what development even was. Now, I know that marketing and communications is probably not for me, but I could see myself involved in development in a nonprofit.

What stands out as your best college memory?
My best college memories are from the large campus events. The first one that comes to mind is the Multicultural Center Family Affair cookout during Ohio State’s Welcome Week. It was always a great time to visit student organization tables, eat good food, and fellowship with the Black OSU community. Of course, attending football games as a student will always be a great memory. I was able to watch the 2019 Homecoming game from the President’s Box and got to meet President Drake and Brutus!

Why should someone else consider your major at Ohio State?
Community leadership is a great major that can translate to many lines of work. While most people with my major plan to work in extension or 4-H, I plan to go into nonprofit work. The major offers courses that are useful for many career paths and it also time to add minors that can enhance the major coursework.

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Paige Schaffter

Paige Schaffter is a senior studying agriscience education with a minor in production agriculture. Hailing from Edon, Ohio, Paige is a graduate of Edon Northwest High School. She is one of 14 seniors in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership to be selected as an ACEL Distinguished Senior.
Why did you choose your major?
I chose my major because my agricultural educator had such a significant impact on me, truly shaped my character and personality through agricultural education and FFA. This experience equipped me with valuable lessons, knowledge, and skills that proved to aid me in life beyond her classroom and high school to get me where I am, and who I am, today. I wanted to make the same impact on others – to help them realize their full potential and capabilities by using agriculture and FFA as an avenue for success and skill development.
Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
I chose to attend Ohio State because I was the only one in my immediate family to do so, even though we’re all die hard Buckeyes. I truly felt at home when I stepped foot on Ohio State ATI’s campus in Wooster, and I knew I would get the greatest education and experiences at Ohio State.
What classes did you enjoy the most?
The classes I enjoyed the most included chocolate science, beer and wine in Western culture, teaching methods 1 and 2, and my early field experience with Jaime Chenevey at West Holmes High School.
What student organizations were you involved in as a student?
I was involved with Agriculture Communicators, Educators, and Leaders of Tomorrow (ACELT), Community Council, Student Activities Council, OSU Voyagers, Hoof N Hide, Agriculture Education Society, and Celebration of Students- The Experience Committee. In Community Council I was co-president from 2018-2019; Student Activities event planner from 2018-2019, OSU Voyage Social Media Chair from 2019-present, committee member of “The Experience” committee for Celebration of Students banquet 2018-present, and a member of the Banquet Committee for AES in 2020.

Serving food in the AES food stand at Farm Science Review.

Speaking with prospective employers at our annual career fair.

What internships did you complete and how did they help you decide what you did or did not want to do after graduation?
As a student at OSU, I completed internships with the Williams County Extension Office and 4-H Youth Development as the summer assistant, CFAES Ambassador team (Wooster & Columbus), and CFAES Office of Education Abroad as the communications and marketing intern. The experiences with Williams County 4-H helped me to decide I most definitely did not want to work in that capacity after graduation, but I had the intrapersonal and organizational skills to do so if I wanted to.
My early field experience and student teaching experiences as part of my ASE course work have reaffirmed my desire to teach agriculture in a high school setting after graduating, and my time in each internship has allowed me to improve my organizational, communication, and facilitation skills while increasing my knowledge of the agriculture industry and its multiple facets, organizations, companies, and people.

Teaching lessons in our classroom.

What stands out as your best college memory?
I don’t have just one favorite or best memory from Ohio State, but one of my top favorites is being in The Shoe, The Schott, or The Covelli center, rain or shine, cheering on the Buckeyes and not having a voice the following day from cheering so loudly. I will miss all of those games, matches, and contests with my favorite people the most.
Why should someone else consider your major at Ohio State?
Someone should consider agriscience education at Ohio State because all professors are truly invested in your success, and providing you with experiences and resources to make your short four years at OSU the best years of your life. They not only assist with coursework and scheduling, but truly care for their students’ emotional, mental, and physical health. They help you network with incredible educators who are going to provide you with so many additional skills and knowledge outside of the traditional classroom. Furthermore, they connect you with companies, alumni, faculty, staff, and other students who are all invested in your future and willing to help you achieve your goals.
What do you plan to do after graduation?
As of right now, I plan to apply for a teaching job in a high school or middle school setting teaching agriculture and advising FFA members.

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Milan Pozderac

Milan Pozderac is a senior studying agriscience education with a minors in environmental science and production agriculture. Hailing from Fredericktown, Ohio, Milan is a graduate of Fredericktown 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?
When I first came to Ohio State, I was still unsure of what I wanted to do in my career, but knew I wanted it to be in agriculture. My first year of my undergraduate career was spent learning more about the different majors in the college and the careers associated with them. It was important for me to have a career that was purposeful and fit my strengths and desired lifestyle well. These were all things I found in agriscience education, where I could teach and help students grow as individuals, remain in agriculture, and use my skills to help others.

Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
I was raised a Buckeye, as both my parents and grandparents met here at Ohio State. For me, I never really wanted to go anywhere else. Though when I visited campus, my decision was solidified. Ohio State is rich with history and tradition, has one of the best agricultural colleges in the nation, and I fell in love with everything the campus offered.

What classes did you enjoy the most?
I have had great experiences with all my classes at Ohio State, but two that stand out are public speaking (AGRCOMM 3101) and foundations of personal and professional leadership (COMLDR 3530). Along with being enjoyable, both these classes changed my thinking about leadership and speaking. They impacted me as a student and now as a teacher going into the profession.

In Brazil with Alpha Zeta Partners.

What student organizations have you been involved in as a student on campus?
FarmHouse – ATZ Fraternity (Served as New Member Educator and Spiritual Chair)
H2O Church (Served as small group leader)
Alpha Zeta Partners Honorary
Soil Judging Team Member
CFAES Ambassador

With fraternity brothers at Back to School Bash

With fraternity brothers.

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 an internship with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, where I was part of a team that put on the Land and Living Exhibit at the Ohio State Fair. The exhibit’s purpose was to tell the story of modern Ohio agriculture to fairgoers. There I was immersed in current agricultural issues and was able to design educational activities around them. This experience reaffirmed that I wanted to teach after graduation and continue to share this story to my students. I also completed student teaching experiences with Fairfield Union High School’s agricultural education program and FFA chapter.

What stands out as your best college memory?
The CFAES Olympics were always a fun way to end the academic year with the college. I competed with my fraternity, FarmHouse, twice and we were able to win in both 2018 and 2019!

What do you plan to do after graduation?
After graduation, I hope to find a position as an agricultural educator in Ohio!

Judging soil as a member of the Ohio State Soil Judging Team

Why should someone else consider your major at Ohio State?
Agriscience education is a purpose and passion driven career, where you can gain greater knowledge about the agriculture industry and focus on serving and teaching students. It opens you to a wide variety of opportunities while also letting you focus on those areas you want to grow in.

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Olivia Pflaumer

Olivia Pflaumer is a senior studying agriscience education with minors in production agriculture and environmental sciences. A Chillicothe, Ohio native, Olivia is a graduate of Zane Trace High School. She is one of 14 seniors from the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership to be selected as an ACEL Distinguished Senior. You

Why did you choose your major? 
I chose agriscience education because of the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on agriculture, the environment, and my community by working with students in and outside of the classroom.

Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
I chose to attend Ohio State for a lot of reasons! The main reason being that the people I looked up to most in high school, my agricultural educators, went to Ohio State and I hoped to grow just as they did!

What classes did you enjoy the most?
Some of my favorite classes have been with Dr. Mary Rodriguez. I had the opportunity to take several classes with her throughout college, and each class provided an opportunity to challenge my thinking and grow.

What student organizations were you involved in as a student?
I’ve been a member of Agricultural Education Society and served as the reporter and the president and was a member of the OSU Rock Climbing Club and served as the outdoor chair.

What internships or field experiences did you complete?
I completed two internships with Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, Ohio. First, as a sustainable agriculture intern and then as a coordinator for a beginner farmer program. Both opportunities, provided hands-on experiences of working with people and the land. These experiences helped me grow as a future educator in the classroom. I also completed my student teaching experience with Global Impact STEM Academy in Springfield.

What stands out as your best college memory?
There’s too many! Some of my favorite moments come from singing Carmen Ohio at the end of events. These moments always make me tear up, as they remind me the community and family that exist because of Ohio State.

Why should someone else consider your major at Ohio State?
The support and opportunities to grow at Ohio State have been endless. I can’t imagine spending my undergraduate career anywhere else.

What do you plan to do after graduation?
I hope to teach as an agricultural educator, wherever I can!

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Shae Leeper

Shae Leeper is a senior studying agricultural communication with a dual minor in agribusiness and agronomy. Originally from Marysville, Ohio, Shae is a graduate of Marysville High School. She 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?
Growing up on a farm, I knew that I always want agriculture to be a part of my life. I was also very interested in marketing and the creative aspects of business. Agricultural communications was combination of my two interests, which was a perfect fit.

Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
When choosing a university to attend, I was interested in staying in Ohio and Ohio State offered the field of study I was interested in. I also heard a lot of great things from friends who were a part of CFAES.

What classes did you enjoy the most?
I really enjoyed all of my classes and they each offered something unique. Within my major I really enjoyed AGRCOM 4130: Publication Design and Production. It was a great class to become familiar with Adobe applications.

Within my agribusiness minor, I enjoyed AEDECON 3170: Agriculture Law. Dr. Kirk-Hall did a great job of teaching the class and we learned a lot about various types of law affecting agriculture.

Within my agronomy minor, I though HCS 5140 was a great class. It was nice learning about the history of different crops within agriculture, especially those planted in Ohio.

What student organizations have you been a part of as a student?

  • The Agribusiness Club – Social/Recruitment Chair (2019-2020), President (2020-2021)
  • Celebration of Students Banquet Planning Committee – Image Chair (2019-2020), Co-Chair (2020-2021)
  • Sigma Alpha (2019-2020) – Public Relations Chair (2020)

What internships did you complete and how did they help you decide what you did or did not want to do after graduation?
I interned with Richwood Marketing in the summer of 2018 as a marketing intern. It was a great internship to start out with. It helped introduce me to the world of marketing and all of the different elements that go into it. The company had a great culture and work environment which set the bar high right from the start. After completing this internship, it helped me realize that I wanted to be involved in marketing, but more so the overarching ideas, rather than a specific segment of it (such as graphic design).

During the summer of 2019 I interned with the OSU Extension Office in Delaware County as the 4-H and Agriculture & Natural Resources intern. This internship provided me with the opportunity to work within agriculture and with different group of people, 4-H and Junior Fair Board members, farmers, adults involved in the county fair, and more. I really liked working with others and being in a position that was everchanging. I had a lot of projects to put together, each one different from the other. It showed me that I like having new and different tasks to take.

What stands out as your best college memory?
The Agribusiness Club trips are memories that stand out to me. Transitioning from the Ohio State Marion my sophomore year, this was a great way to get involved and meet new people. I really enjoyed traveling to a different region of the United States to explore agriculture. The trips were always fun and it brought club members closer together.

I also always enjoyed going to Ohio State football games. Rain or shine it is a surreal experience to watch the game alongside thousands of other students. 

Why should someone else consider your major at Ohio State?
For those interested in agriculture and business I think that agricultural communication offers some unique opportunities that are applicable to any business role. Throughout our classes, we learn all about communications from writing and design, to working on a team to create a yearlong project. Communications will always be a vital aspect of business. The experiences I had and skills I gained from my major are unmatched and I know I will use them frequently throughout my career.

What is your advice for future Buckeyes?
For those interested in becoming a part of our college I would say take advantage of every opportunity. Join clubs, takes classes outside of your major, and try to push yourself to try new things. Your four years in college go by quick, but they will be filled with some of your favorite memories. I have found lifelong friends while in college and learned so much. Take advantage of study abroad or class trips, going to a new place and learning about the culture or agriculture is an eye-opening experience that helps us grow. Just enjoy it!

What do you plan to do after graduation?
I am excited to say that I recently accepted a position at Scotts Miracle-Gro as an assistant marketing manager. This position is a two-year training program within brand management. I will be placed on two, one-year rotations with different brands within Scotts. I am looking forward to learning more about the industry and everything encompassed within brand management.

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Allyson Irwin

Ally Irwin is a senior studying community leadership with a minor in organizational communication. Hailing from Wheelersburg, Ohio, Ally is a graduate of Jackson High School. She is one of 14 seniors from the Department of Agricultural Communication, Educational, and Leadership to be named an ACEL Distinguished Senior.

Why did you choose the major of community leadership?
It took me a few tries before I got my major right. I was really struggling with my course load and wasn’t interested in the content of the classes I was taking at the time. After browsing the CFAES website, and numerous advising appointments, I found community leadership and knew it was right for me. I was always involved in organizations, clubs, and leadership in high school. It’s the one consistent thing I have been passionate about since I started my educational journey. I love learning theories about change, development, and leadership, and putting them into action.

Why did you choose to become a Buckeye?
I had only ever imagined going to Ohio State growing up. I applied to several colleges as a high school senior but stopped opening admissions letter after finding out I was accepted to Ohio State! My brother is a year older than me and also chose to attend OSU. He’s in the marching band.

What have been some of your favorite courses at Ohio State?
I truly enjoyed all of my core classes for my major. Some of those included: Foundations in Personal and Professional Leadership, Leading Teams and Organizations, Community Development in Practice, and Leadership for Community Change.

What have you been involved with as a student on campus?
Throughout my time at Ohio State, I have volunteered for the OWL program (Ohio State Welcome Leader), Empower Sports, and BuckeyeThon. I also became a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS).

The Ohio StateWelcome Leader (OWL) program provides opportunities for residence hall students who value leadership and helping others to participate in the residence hall move in process. Empower Sports aims to harness the power of competition and teamwork in sports to build self-confidence and interpersonal skills of children with autism. The mission of BuckeyeThon is to create awareness and raise funds for children with cancer. The society is an organization that helps people discover and achieve their goals. It serves as a powerful force of good in the greater community by encouraging organizing action to better the world.

Share your internship and outside education experiences.
I have been an academic coach at Ohio State’s Dennis Learning Center (DLC). Being an academic coach at the DLC has proven to be the second most pivotal decision I have made at Ohio State, right behind changing my major to community leadership. I struggled immensely as an incoming freshman. I was taking too many credit hours and the wrong combination of classes. Luckily, I was enrolled in a DLC sponsored course on self-regulated learning and study strategies. The instructor noticed how well I was doing in the class and asked me if I’d be interested in coaching. I have held this job for almost three years. I help consult with students on their test taking, motivation, academic stress, study skills, and more. This job has encouraged me to pursue a career in higher education as well as other positions with consulting roles.

I’m currently a communication and programs fellow with Foundation for Appalachian Ohio. This is my newest job. Because of my upbringing and other experiences, I’ve become super passionate about advocating for education and leadership opportunities for those within Appalachian Communities. FAO serves 32 counties in Ohio and their mission is to bridge the philanthropic gap by supporting nonprofits.

I was also a premium experience intern for the Columbus Blue Jackets and a campus ambassador for the National Society of Leadership and Success.

What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to further my education and get a master’s in business administration. I would also like to get another advanced degree in either organizational development, psychology, or leadership. Eventually, I would like to come back and work in higher education.

Why should someone consider your major?
Someone else should consider my major because it is extremely versatile and informative no matter the context in which it’s used. ACEL also provides exceptional resources and even better support systems. My advisor, Dr. Rodriguez, became the best role model, mentor, and teacher.

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Courtney Heiser

Courtney Heiser is a senior studying agricultural communication with a minor in production agriculture. Originally from Attica, Ohio, Courtney is a graduate of Seneca East High School. She is one of 14 seniors in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership to be selected as an ACEL Distinguished Senior.

Why did you choose your major?
I grew up on my family’s row crop farm in Seneca County and always enjoyed being on the farm, riding in the tractors with my dad, and learning about different parts of the agriculture industry. I couldn’t wait to get involved in organizations like 4-H and FFA to continue to grow my passion for agriculture. In high school, I became actively involved with the Seneca East FFA chapter. As an officer, I made connections with a lot of local agriculture professionals. During the summer of my junior year, I job shadowed a director of marketing at a local cooperative which really drove my decision to study agricultural communication. I loved the opportunity to learn more about different aspects of agriculture and share new information with farmers and consumers.

Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
As a first-generation college student, my mentors really helped me decide on what school to attend. Not only did I want to be a Buckeye, but my high school agricultural educator and FFA advisor, Bryan Crapo, was a big influence. He really encouraged me to further my education in agricultural communication because he studied at Ohio State and was very helpful with everything along the way. Ohio State also offered a vast range of scholarships that were easy to apply for and made a huge difference when determining where to go to college.

What classes did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed all of my coursework throughout my time at Ohio State, but I would have to say my top three favorite classes included campaign design and management with Tom Stewart (AGRCOMM 5130), culture proficiency (COMLDR 3535) with Dr. Susie Whittington, and foundations of personal professional leadership (3530) with Rod Welker.

What student organizations have you been involved in as a student?
At CFAES Wooster, I was involved in ACEL of Tomorrow and got to serve as the organization’s first official president alongside my outstanding executive team and passionate advisors. When I transitioned to the Columbus campus I got involved in the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, and currently serve as the president. I also got involved with Alpha Zeta Partners and traveled to Brazil and Washington D.C. with 13 other students in CFAES. While at both campuses, I served as an ambassador for CFAES, making connections with prospective students and families sharing my story as an agricultural communication student.

Agricultural Communicators, Educators, and Leaders of Tomorrow at the annual ACEL Banquet in 2019

ACT at the annual Night for Young Professionals event in 2019

What internships did you complete?
I had the opportunity to complete several internships during my tie as an undergraduate. During the summer of 2019, I served as the communications intern for Ohio Soybean Council. During the 2019-2020 academic year, I was the communications intern for the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership. During the summer of 2020, I served as Heritage Cooperative’s marketing intern.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of my internships and very grateful that I have the opportunity to continue to do what I love after graduation as a marketing specialist with Heritage Cooperative.

What stands out as your best college memory?
Looking back on my college career, I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to travel to Brazil with Alpha Zeta Partners during January and February 2020. I made so many friends and memories and learned about the similarities and differences between Brazilian and U.S. agriculture and culture.

In Brazil with Alpha Zeta Partners in early 2020

Why should someone else consider your major at Ohio State?
The agricultural communication major is such a unique major. For me, I was able to tie my two favorite things together – agriculture and helping others! One great thing about the agricultural communication major is that you will have so many opportunities for diverse internships and jobs after graduation – you have to have communication skills for any job, and as an agricultural communication major, you’ll be the cream of the crop when applying for jobs!

What do you plan to do after graduation?
After graduation, I will be working for Heritage Cooperative as a marketing specialist.

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.