ACEL senior named Homecoming Court Member

CFAES Student and 4-H alumna Maddie Allman has been selected for the 2021 Ohio State University Homecoming Court. This honor does not come easily, and Allman attributes much of her success to her 4-H experience. Read about Maddie’s 4-H story by the Ohio 4-H Foundation here:…/september-2021/4-h-royalty-ohio-state

Voting for Homecoming Court Royals begins on Friday, September 24th and ends on Friday, October 1st. Each undergraduate student will have the opportunity to cast two votes. The 2021 Royal Buckeyes will be announced during pre-game on Saturday, October 9, 2021.

Each member of Ohio State’s homecoming court also chooses an organization they are passionate about and are expected to conduct a fundraiser for the group. Maddie has chosen to fundraise on behalf of the Ohio 4-H program with a goal of recieving a donation from all 50 U.S. States. All donations made to Maddie’s fundraiser will go to the Ohio 4-H Foundation Fund. This fund supports Ohio 4-H Youth Development programming efforts and goes toward supporting 4-H members participating in conferences, camps, and other activities. Fundraising is open from Monday, September 20th to Monday, October 11th.  If you are interested in donating to Maddie’s fundraiser, please follow the link

Graduate Spotlight: Paige Andrews

Paige Andrews is a current master’s student in agricultural communication, education, and leadership where she is studying community and extension education and leadership. She is from Sherrodsville, Ohio and graduated with a B.S. in animal science from Ohio State.

When asked why she chose ACEL to pursue her master’s degree Andrews explains, “to broaden my expertise and get more of the human exposure that I thought would be beneficial.” She also added that “I chose Ohio State because the faculty are helpful and encouraging and I had a great experience during my undergrad at the university!”

Paige’s thesis is analyzing parent involvement in 4-H projects and she plans to work in community outreach or with animals in some capacity after completing her degree.

When asked what she loves about Ohio State and the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership, she shared that “I love that you can go to any professor with questions and they’ll do their best to help you. I’m thankful for the amount of resources available to students, as well.”

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Douglas Pletsch ’66 M.S., ’68 Ph.D.


Dr. Douglas Pletsch joined the department in 1965 as a graduate student from Fergus, Ontario, Canada. Pletsch completed a master’s and doctorate degree in agricultural and extension education. He spent 35 years as a faculty member in rural extension studies at the University of Guelph and retired in 2003.

[ACEL]: Hello Dr. Pletsch! Share with us why you decided to come to the Department of Agricultural Education (now ACEL) to complete your graduate degrees at Ohio State.
At the time of application, my wife, Vera, and I were working in a community development project in Brazil, administered by the Evangelical United Brethren Church (now part of the United Methodist Church) in collaboration with the Igreja Crista e Congregacionais do Brasil.  My undergraduate degree was in crop science, but it became evident in our work that information dissemination was very important and anything that could be done to facilitate that was a winning approach.

Our supporting congregation was in Marion, Ohio.  Having visited Marion and Columbus before going to Brazil, Ohio State was already a consideration when it came time to apply for graduate studies.  I applied to three universities in the United States.  Ohio State’s application package came via air mail, the other two by sea.  By the time I received those applications, I had already been accepted at Ohio State.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
My time at Ohio State was extremely important.  Shortly before completing my Ph.D. I was contacted by the University of Guelph to consider filling a position in the Department of Extension Education. Our plan was to return to Brazil, but because union of the Methodist and EUB denominations was about to take place, the position in Brazil was unclear, and I was advised to seriously consider the position at the University of Guelph, which I accepted.

Did you have a faculty member or advisor who was influential during your time at Ohio State?
Dr. Robert McCormick was my M.S. and Ph.D. advisor.  He was an excellent role model and extremely helpful in making my time at Ohio State a cherished experience. Dr. Ralph Bender, chair of the Department, made us feel welcome, important and provided encouragement. As a Canadian, I was one of a number of foreign students, and without exception, we were well received and felt at ease.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
Upon graduation in 1968, I joined the Department of Extension Education at the University of Guelph (U of G), in Ontario, Canada and I retired in 2003.  My experiences as a faculty member at the University provided opportunities to be involved, not only in at the University but also in the community and in international development projects.

What positions have you held throughout your career?
Organization: The Agricultural Institute of Canada, The Ontario Institute of Agrology, The Canadian Society of Extension and The Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program.

My position at the U of G provided opportunities to be a part of several out of country projects. Our family spent three years at the University of Ghana as part of an institutional building project with that University. Subsequently, I worked with Ryerson University (Toronto) on a project of institutional building at Nur University in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. More recently, I assisted with distance learning projects at Tamil Nadu University in India and another at Mansoura University in Egypt.

During your career, have you received any awards or honors?
Life Member, Canadian Society of Extension, Centennial Award of the Department of Agricultural Education, OSU.

How are you involved in your community outside of your career?
I have been a member of Rotary for the last 19 years.  We are also active in our local church and volunteer with the local food bank and other community organizations.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?

One highlight is difficult to bring to mind, I am humbled by the number of opportunities I have had to interact with international colleagues and students in several countries. This has allowed me to experience their culture and observe the desire and work to improve the lives of their fellow citizens.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Don’t underestimate your abilities and opportunities. Focus your efforts on helping others.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
I felt a part of the educational experience at Ohio State.  I was extremely fortunate to have professors who provided an optimal opportunity to explore diverse approaches to research and the search for improving lives.  I adopted that approach in my own teaching, international activities and working with graduate students.


Graduating with my doctorate degree in 1968.


Graduating with my master’s degree in 1966.


The Pletsch family in 1968.






Alumni Spotlight: Tom McNutt, ’55, ’62 MS

Tom McNutt graduated with his bachelor and master degrees in agricultural education in 1955 and 1962, respectively. Originally from Dunkirk, Ohio, Tom and his wife reside in Hilliard. He has worked in a few positions over the years, with his most recognizable one being the garden expert on NBC4 each Saturday morning from 1989 to 2013.

[ACEL]: Hello Tom! You majored in agricultural education. What influenced your decision to choose that major?
[McNutt]: I was very active in 4-H, FFA, and Vocational Agriculture in school and wanted to be like my Vocational Agriculture teacher.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University? Did Ohio State influence your career path?
Ohio State University offered everything I needed to accomplish my objectives. It provided me with all the essentials for the career I had already chosen.

Did you have a favorite course and professor during your time at Ohio State?
Animal Science Feed and Feeding because the professor was a master teacher. I really liked Dr. Austin Ritchie.  He was my advisor and mentor during my undergraduate work at OSU.

Outside of the classroom, how did you stay busy?
I worked 20 hours a week in the OSU mailing room and weekends selling automobiles, Fuller Brush products, and night shift at a hamburger restaurant to pay for my education.  This left me very little time for campus life.

Share with us a favorite memory of yours from our time at Ohio State?
Once I was coming out of the shower following Phys. Ed. class and ran smack into Woody Hayes.  He picked me up by both my shoulders and said, “Young man, did you ever think about coming out for football?”  I shuddered and replied, “No, Sir!”  To which he stated, “Well you should with the way you hit!”

What a compliment from Coach Hayes! After you graduated, what was your first job?
I taught vocational agriculture at Belle Center High School in Logan County.

What other jobs have you held throughout your career?
In 1963, after teaching Vocational Agriculture at Belle Center and Dublin high school for 7 years, I moved to Ohio State University faculty, first as a 4-H Agent then promoted to Agriculture Agent and County Chairman.  I retired from extension on December 31, 1988 and hold the title of Professor Emeritus.  From 1989 to 2004 I served as executive coordinator of the Ohio Council of Cooperatives.  Also serving as Executive Director of the Ohio Agricultural Council from 1990 to 2003.  I was also the NBC4 TV News Garden Expert from 1989 to 2013, hosting a live TV show every Saturday at 8:00 A.M. and taped another garden segment for Sunday mornings.

You’ve had a long career, with many awards and honors. What are a few of those that stand out to you?
I have received numerous state and national awards for work with cooperatives, community service, public relations, horticultural management and media. I few by name that stick out include the John W. Galbreath Award, Ohio Farm Bureau Cooperative Educator Award, Educator and Public Service Award – Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association, NACAA Search for Excellence Award (5 times), OFMA Award for Dedicated Service to Franklin County and the Cream of the Crop Award from the Franklin County Fair.

I have also been inducted into several Hall of Fame’s including: Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame, Ohio 4-H Hall of Fame, Dublin High School Hall of Fame and Hardin Northern High School Hall of Fame.

From throughout your 60 year career, you must have many memorable highlights. Share a few of those with us.
I wrote and published a book entitled “Tom’s (Green) Thumb – Advice to grow on in a (Mc)Nutt shell”, I have hosted farm and garden tours with my wife Joan and lectured all over the world while visiting. And while filming my NBC4 segment, I would meet so many nice people.

What advice would you give to a current Ohio State student who looks to a career like yours?
Enjoy your college years but take it seriously.  My philosophy has always been, “Promise no more than you can deliver and deliver on all your promises.”

Our final question. What did ACEL cultivate in you?
All people are important. Be willing to listen to all points of view. Most of all, enjoy life!

Meet Our Faculty: Dr. Keith Smith

Making a positive impact on his students as a professor in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership, is far from the only thing that Dr. Keith Smith has given to Ohio State. For over twenty years he tirelessly served as the director of OSU Extension. Dr. Smith has also served as the associate viceOSU CFAES Dr. Keith L Smith Assoc. VP & Driector OSU Extension president for agricultural administration, and the associate dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State, just recently retiring from these positions in 2015.

A graduate from Utah State University and Iowa State University, Dr. Smith has his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural education. Currently, Dr. Smith utilizes these degrees both as a professor and as the Gist Chair in Extension Education and Leadership. The latter is a role that focuses on administration and leadership in Extension education. As the chair, Dr. Smith works with other faculty and Extension professionals to help mentor faculty, design and conduct research and scholarship, and provide leadership development opportunities.

With a long list of accolades and accomplishments, Dr. Smith continues to serve and make a positive impact. He has both authored and co-authored a vast array of articles and papers that are focused in the areas of leadership, teaching, and program development. It is no wonder Dr. Smith is a valued member of the ACEL faculty team.


To get in contact with Dr. Keith Smith, reach him via email at

A day in the shoes of an Extension Educator

Written by: Blake Campbell
Waterford, Ohio
Community Leadership, Community and Extension Education

I have spent the last few weeks experiencing new and exciting opportunities in my home county, Washington County. Over the course of four weeks I have been working at The Ohio State University Extension Office of Washington County completing my Early Field Experience. My EFE is a part of my major at Ohio State as I am majoring in community leadership with a specialization in community and extension education. These past few weeks have been so much fun as I have gotten to develop skills that will help me in the future.

I am working with Alison Baker the extension educator specializing in 4-H Youth Development. I grew up in Washington County with a huge passion for the fair and 4-H. This same passion led me to go to college and make a career of it. I am so very excited to start this journey in Extension.

Blake assists youth with leadership activities.

Blake assists youth with leadership activities.

I have learned multiple aspects of youth development and education while doing my EFE with Washington County. From attending a horse evaluation to writing a cloverbud connection for the quarterly newsletter, I have expanded my horizon to new and exciting levels. Before starting my EFE I knew little about extension and how they worked with fairs and  4-H, but now I have a better understanding of how extension works. I am very excited to start this fun and exciting career in community and extension education!

Learning about Extension

Written by: Haley Kocher
Bucyrus, Ohio
Community Leadership, Community and Extension Education Specialization

With a major in community leadership and a specialization in community and extension education, my early field experience took place at the Marion County Extension Office. The Marion County Fair takes place the last week in June into July. Last minute details were in full swing as the office prepared for the fair activities. I helped the extension educator plan activities for clover bud day and 4-H camp, as weak as prepare mailings sent to advisors, parents, and members.

Photo submitted by Haley Kocher

Haley talks with youth about extension programs.

The part I enjoyed most was attending the meetings for the Jr. Fair Board, camp counselors, cloverbuds, and dog trainings. Being able to interact with the youth and volunteers in the 4-H program was a highlight for me. I also had the opportunity to lead a team building activity with the camp counselors, seeing them work together and accomplish the task as a team was a neat experience.

One thing I will take away from this experience is the new appreciation for our county educators. I am a ten year 4-H member and this experience gave me a new point of view. Our 4-H educators put in many hours and effort into making sure the fair is successful each year. Obstacles will and do occur but it is how you deal with it and what you take away from the experience that means the most. I enjoyed the time I had in the Marion County Extension Office. It helped me see the role that the extension educators play in each county. 4-H is a great organization for youth and their families and I am excited to one day be a part of our growing agricultural industry.

Rodriguez to join Ohio State Faculty

The Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership at The Ohio State University is pleased to announce that Mary Rodriguez will join our faculty as Assistant Professor of Community Leadership in August 2015.

Mary Rodriguez is excited to be a member of the Ohio State faculty.

Mary Rodriguez is excited to be a member of the Ohio State faculty.

Rodriguez is a PhD candidate at the University of Florida where she will complete her dissertation “Understanding the impact of social capital and gender on adoption of fertigation in the Jordan Valley” and graduate with an emphasis in Food, Security, Gender, and Community Development this August. She holds a master’s degree in agricultural education from the University of Florida as well as a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Texas A&M University.

In her new position with Ohio State, Rodriguez will teach undergraduate and graduate courses in community leadership, advise and mentor undergraduate majors and minors, supervise students in leadership capstone projec

ts, guide graduate student research, and provide outreach to community leadership groups.

Community Leadership 5330 hosts Food & Fiber Day


On October 22, 2014, The Ohio State University Sheep Facility was home to an interactive learning day for enthusiastic college students and wide-eyed first graders! Students in Community Leadership 5330: Teaching Methods in Non-formal Environments completed their Food & Fiber Day experience by working with students from the Columbus School for Girls. The non-formal classroom stage was set with straw bales in place of desks and dozens of lambs to accompany the students!IMG_1139

This teaching and learning opportunity allowed college students to develop and facilitate a lesson plan. In groups of two or three, students worked together to create a lesson that fit a first grade curriculum science standard. These science standards framed student learning around agricultural processes, seasons, animal care, and more.

Throughout the semester, students have been increasing their knowledge on teaching in non-formal settings. The unique opportunity to teach Columbus School for Girls first grade students at the sheep farm offered the perfect setting for applying their skills! First graders were welcomed to the farm and engaged in activities including a facility tour, rotating between educational stations, and concluding their day with making ice cream – all taught by COMLDR 5330 students!


While the first graders left with many lessons learned, memories of petting a day-old lamb, and a sample of wool from a sheep shearing demonstration, OSU students left with a feeling of successful accomplishment – seeing their weeks of preparation come to action!


COMLDR 5330 students include: Zach Bartenslager, Sarah Bookman, Caitlin Conrad, Alex Davidson, Aaron Deskins, Krysti Dubler, Samantha Johnson, Jillian Kalis, Michael Kieffer, Michelle King, Beth Mayers, Scott McDermott, Jacqueline Nolting, Sarah Rannebarger, Ashley Rose, Spencer Williams, Renea Yetter


The class is instructed by Dr. Graham Cochran and Teaching Assistant, Kayla Oberstadt.

A special thank you goes out to Gregg Fogle, manager of the OSU Sheep Facility for hosting our group and giving sheep shearing demonstrations. Thank you to Emily Wickham and Michelle Hendrik for taking photos. Lastly, a generous thank you to Columbus School for Girls for their continued partnership through first grade teachers Leigh Kane and Devon Schlicher!


Early Field Experience in Extension

Ericka Priest
Van Wert, Ohio
Community Leadership, Community & Extension Education

My early field experience was a real eye opener and positive experience. At the Ohio State University Van Wert County Extension Office my two weeks of experience were filled with multiple opportunities and friendly people everywhere. At the office, I worked on letters for animal taggings, cloverbud camp promotions, answering phone calls, and handling questions and problems that came into the office from the public. I also started working on getting judges ready for miscellaneous project judging. Outside of the office there were multiple different teaching opportunities.

Ericka Priest, photo 3

I was able to go to Lincolnview High School and talk to their seniors about college and the requirements of academics and financial needs. I was also able to go to Van Wert High School and help put on the Real Money Real World program to the government class from both Van Wert and Lincolnview High Schools. Other teaching opportunities I had were: horse quality assurance and a 4-H counselor meeting. Heather Gottke, 4-H youth and leadership programmer in Van Wert County, also gave the opportunity of going to the board meeting for Camp Palmer.

Ericka Priest, photo 1

This whole experience was an eye opener on how much time and dedication it takes to become an educator in extension. Extension is more than just 4-H, with all parts working together it makes a huge impact to the community.


Thanks Ericka for sharing about your Early Field Experience.