Retired alumni return for OAAE celebration

Group photo of retired agricultural educators.During the annual Agricultural Education Summer Conference, the Ohio Association of Agricultural Educators (OAAE) celebrated their 100th Anniversary.
Several of Ohio’s retired agricultural educators returned to celebrate, many of them Ohio State alumni!

Bush wins Fields-of-Corn photo contest

ACEL alum Amanda Bush ’17 was the winner of the most popular award for the 2020 Fields-of-Corn Photo Contest, which is hosted by the National Corn Growers Association.

Bush, who graduated in 2017 with a bachelor of science in agricultural communication, submitted a photo taken from her family farm in Morrow County, Ohio. She is the executive communications assistant for Ohio Farm Bureau.



News Release: Filson named recipient of university distinguished teaching award

Dr. Caryn Filson, assistant professor of agriscience education, received Ohio State’s 2021 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching. This announcement came during the annual retreat for the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) and was presented when Provost Bruce McPheron, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Dean Cathann A. Kress and colleagues made a surprise visit to the virtual meeting.

The Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching annually recognizes no more than 10 faculty members across the university for their teaching excellence. Students, faculty, and alumni may nominate faculty; and a committee of students, previous recipients, and alumni choose the recipients. Filson was nominated by multiple agriscience education students for her outstanding teaching.

A three-time graduate of Ohio State’s agricultural education program, Filson joined the ACEL faculty in 2014. In her role, Filson teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on campus and at a distance, coordinates and assess field experience placements for the agriscience education program, facilitates program efforts to meet university teacher licensure accreditation and manages initial licensure requirements for the preservice agriscience education program.

“Our department, and especially our students, are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Filson as an instructor and mentor,” said Dr. Shannon Washburn, professor and chair of ACEL. “Students are consistently praising her as a teacher, which is important as she helps prepare dozens of students each year to be middle school and high school agriscience teachers.”

Filson has taught a variety of classes within the major including graduate research methods, theories of learning and cognition, leading through historical perspectives, evaluation in agriscience education, methods of teaching agriscience education, contextual learning in agriscience education and exploration in agricultural communication, education, and leadership.

In her award nomination, a student nominator said “she combines her years as an agriscience teacher, professor, and student into one perspective that she shares with her students to provide background knowledge, new ideas, and incite thought-provoking questions. Her teaching technique is impeccable. She efficiently utilizes Lev Vygotsky’s theory of Zone of Proximal Development for her students, challenging them while providing assistance and resources to achieve their definition of success.”

Another student nominator said, “Dr. Filson is always looking for ways to tailor her lessons more towards her students by asking for recommendations, looking for critiques, and striking up hallway conversations. This has created a learning space that is not only comfortable but productive and truly inspires learning.”

Filson will receive a monetary gift from The Ohio State University Alumni Association, University Advancement and the Office of Academic Affairs. She will also be inducted into the Academy of Teaching.

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, please visit


McLain defends master’s thesis

Congratulations to Summer McLain on the successful defense of her master’s thesis “Ohio FFA State Officer Experiences with Mental Health Topics in Ohio Agricultural Education Programs.”

McLain will graduate in May with a master of science in agricultural communication, education, and leadership.

Dr. Jera Niewoehner-Green, assistant professor of community leadership, served as her advisor and Dr. Caryn Filson, assistant professor of agriscience education, served on her committee.

Light defends dissertation

Join us in congratulating Dr. Mark Light on the successful defense of his dissertation “Exploring the Adaptability of County 4-H Professionals to an All-Digital Work Setting During COVID-19 Based on Selected Variables and Their Relationship to Change Style Preferences.”

Light will graduate in May with a doctorate in agricultural communication, education, and leadership. His advisor was Dr. Jeff King, associate professor of community leadership, and committee members were Dr. Caryn Filson, assistant professor of agriscience education, Dr. Jerry Thomas, associate professor of community leadership, and Dr. Erdal Ozkan, professor of agricultural engineering in the Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering.


Sanders joins Arkansas Department of Agriculture staff

Sanders, 2021

Join us in congratulating recent alum Abby Sanders ’20, who is now a public information coordinator with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

Sanders completed a master of science in agricultural communication, education and leadership in December 2020.
Congratulations Abby!

Evans hired as 4-H educator in Huron County

Evans, 2020

Join us in congratulating alum Haley Evans ‘20, who was recently hired as a 4-H Youth Development educator for The Ohio State University Extension Huron County.
Evans completed a bachelor of science in agriscience education in May 2020. During her time as an undergraduate Buckeye, she completed internships with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources , Franklin County Metro Parks and 12 weeks of student teaching at Firelands High School.
Congratulations Haley!

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

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

ACEL 2020 Alumni Awards

The alumni board of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) at The Ohio State University is pleased to announce six alumni as recipients of the annual ACEL Alumni Awards.

Dr. Bob Horton ’78 MS, ’83 PhD, Jenna Large ’08, Lisa McCutcheon ’97 MS, Scott Sharp ’92, Hannah Thompson-Weeman ’11, ’12 MS and John Wilson ’55 were selected for this honor amoung a record setting number of applicants.

Young Alumni Award

Jenna Large ’08

Large is an account manager, project owner and learning designer for Vivayic, Inc. She resides in Texas.

Hannah Thompson-Weeman ’11, ’12 MS

Thompson-Weeman is Vice President of communications for Animal Agriculture Alliance in Arlington, Virginia.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. Bob Horton ’78 MS, ’83 PhD

Horton has been instrumental in shaping 4-H into what it is today. He is respected for his leadership and impact on adults, youth, volunteers and teachers across the country, in addition to the publications and curriculum his has produced.

John Wilson ’55

Wilson held a diverse career in agriculture, serving as an agricultural educator and manager of a fertilizer plant. He later worked at Sauder Woodworking Company and played a crucial role in shaping Four County Career Center and Northwest State into what they are today. He is known for his active service in leadership roles in his Northwest Ohio community.

Mentor to Students Award

Lisa McCutcheon ’97 MS

McCutcheon has spent the last 20 years as a 4-H Youth Development educator in Licking County, Ohio. She has been committed to serving as a mentor and supervisor to ACEL undergraduate students completing field experiences or internships. Her commitment to developing students in ACEL in this way puts her in a class of her own among current Extension professionals.

Scott Sharp ’92

Sharp has spent over 25 years teaching agricultural education at Amanda-Clearcreek Local Schools and has mentored hundreds of students, many whom have gone on to become State FFA officers, successful college students and respected industry workers and leaders. Many current and former ACEL students have benefitted from the time and work he has invested in the many student teachers he hosted throughout his career.