NEWS RELEASE: First Centennial Endowment Project Selected

The first project for the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership’s Centennial Endowment has been awarded funding.

Drs. Jera Niewoehner-Green and Mary Rodriguez submitted the selected proposal, which designs a study abroad program to Trinidad and Tobago that will aim to provide experiential international education for both undergraduate and master’s level graduate students that contextualizes leadership and change in the community settings.

The goal of the Centennial Endowment is to ensure the continued evolution of educational opportunities, programs and curricula that best prepare our graduates for rewarding careers as communicators, educators and agricultural industry leaders. The annual distribution form this fun shall benefit students and faculty of the department by filling discretionary needs.

The selected endowment project will fill a current need for international programs that specifically address ACEL focus areas and create a course wherein students from ACEL majors, as well as across the College can learn how various stakeholders might work together to address community challenges related to the economy, health, agriculture and education. This international experience will fulfill the need for educational and professional development for undergraduate students and master’s students specializing in international development.

“When the Centennial Endowment was created during our centennial celebration in 2017, we looked forward to the opportunities that would be available to our current and future students, in thanks to the many alumni, faculty, staff and stakeholders who have financially contributed to the fund,” said Dr. Tracy Kitchel, professor and chair of ACEL. “The project selected for funding this first year is exactly the kind of educational enrichment opportunity for our students that I envisioned when this process started more than two years ago. It fills an important study abroad gap left in our department due to some faculty transitions. This has the opportunity to be impactful for all of our majors.”

Academic outcomes of the program will include students being able to describe how healthy communities are built, describe how communities engage in transformative processes, engage in systems thinking to aid in the development of healthy communities and identify how education, communication, and leadership play a role in community change.

“Development of a sound international experience will aid in increasing the cultural competency of our students, making them more prepared for the global workforce,” said Dr. Jera Niewoehner-Green, assistant professor of community leadership.

Program funding will cover a scouting trip in the spring of 2020 for two ACEL faculty members and an international development graduate student to meet with faculty from The University of the West Indies, extension and community practitioners and community leaders. The logistics of the study abroad will be developed and finalized on this trip to ensure a quality experience for the students participating in the inaugural trip in Spring 2021.

“For the program to be sustainable, established community relationships are needed and we are excited to travel to Trinidad and Tobago this spring to begin those relationships,” said Dr. Mary Rodriguez, assistant professor of community leadership.

Funding will also support the attendance of the two faculty members and graduate student to attend and present program assessment data at the North Central American Association for Agricultural Education (NCAAAE) in Autumn 2021.

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


Centennial Endowment Donors

Thank you to the following donors who have made contributions to the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership’s Centennial Endowment.

$25,000 – $49,999
Dr. Kirby and Susan Barrick

$10,000 – $24,999
John and Ruth Davis
Robin Hovis
Drs. Rick Rudd and Donna Westfall-Rudd
The John W. Stimpert Family
Drs. Pat and Susie Whittington

$5,000 – $9,999
The John H. and Ruth E. Davis Charitable Fund of Stark Community Foundation
Katheryn Dean
Dr. Jacquelyn Deeds
Dr. Jeremy Falk
Drs. Tracy and Laura Kitchel
Barbara McCaslin

$1,000 – $4,999
Dr. Larry and Candy Arrington
Dr. C. Dale Baughman
Dr. Robert and Pamela Birkenholz
Drs. Blannie and Cathy Bowen
Dr. Clarance and Jane Cunningham
Dr. R. W. Flood
Beth Flynn
Drs. Daniel and Melanie Foster
Dr. Bryan and Debbie Garton
Dr. Barbara and Milford Kirby
Mill Creek Farms of Ostrander
Dr. Eddie and Marilyn Moore
Dr. L.H. and Beverly Newcomb
Dr. Kelly Newlon
Dr. Jill Pfister
Dr. Frederick and Kathleen Rohs
James and Carmela Scott
Thomas and Pam Stewart
Dr. Gary and Alyson Straquadine
Margo Thomas
Dr. Robert and Sara Torres
Drs. Joe and Christine Townsend
Dr. Robert and Catherine Warmbrod
Dr. Shannon and Andi Washburn

$500 – $999
William and Nikki Conklin
Dr. Steve and Andrea Gratz
Dr. John Hillison
Howard Ladewig
Dr. Mya Maung
Andrew and Rhonda Motter
Dr. Brian and Jill Raison
John Rohrer
Dr. Scott and Tina Scheer
Vince and Shelly Stollar
Sunnybank Farms

$250 – $499
Jean Anders
Gary and Mary Bauer
Dr. Roy and Agnes Butler
Dr. Graham and Stacy Cochran
Dr. John and Sherry Crunkilton
Sam and Toni Custer
Scott and Lesley Fry
Dr. Larry and Donna Householder
Dr. Carla Jagger
James and Dr. Shelly D. Jepsen
Dr. Earl and Onnolee Kantner
Cheryl Lyman
John and Lexie Poulson
Dr. Annie Specht
Dennis and Mary Swartz
Emily Wickham

$1 – $249
Myron and Pamela Ashcraft
Trina Beebe
Kellie Beiser
Dr. Donald and Ellen Breece
Charles Bennett
Roy and Antoinette Bristol
James and Stephanie Conway
Cooperative Ventures
Roger and Christine Cramer
Dr. James and Luna Cummins
BJ and Marlene Eick
Dr. Dennis and Judith Elliot
Larry Erpelding
P. James and Karen Faust
Dr. Caryn Filson
Dr. John and Anne Foltz
James Foster
Charles and Suzanne Hawley
Katrina Swinehart Held
Dr. Jan Henderson
Dr. Matthew and Joan Hughes
Joyce Hummel
Dr. Don Ibezim
Dr. Eric and Shevon Kaufman
Thomas Konst
Joseph Kotva
Mark Layman
Dr. Cara Lawson
Frederick and Carla Lendrum
Hayley Beck Maynard
Drs. Adam and Bethany Marx
David E. Mayer
Odell Miller
Brad Moffitt
Eric and Heather Norton
Robert and Edith Nuding
Vincent and Mary Paumier
Dr. Rosemarie Rossetti and Mark Leder
Dr. Earl and Ellen Russell
Dr. Lisa Kitinoja and John Sargeant
Bernard and Jean Scott
Emily Jewell Smith
Dr. Keith Smith
Thomas and Karen Stemm
Larry and Gloria Wendel
Dr. Suzanna Windon
Jake and Janice Wolfinger
Richard Youngpeter
Michael and Deborah Zientek
Daniel and Ellen S. Zimmerman