ACEL Distinguished Senior: Clinton “Gage” Smith

Gage Smith is a senior majoring in community leadership, with a specialization in community and extension education, from Racine, Ohio.

He saw the impact that community based development has on people who need empowerment, and chose to major in community leadership. He became a Buckeye because he knew Ohio State would allow him to pursue his dream of working alongside diverse communities and that CFAES believed in him and his abilities.

Now, as his time as a Buckeye comes to a close, Smith has been selected by faculty in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership as one of 10 students to be named an ACEL Distinguished Senior.

“Gage has been involved in Ohio State life and academics at many levels,” said ACEL faculty in his nomination. “He is a program assistant in OSU Extension at the Community Development state office and is the founding President of the new student organization Cultivating Change whose mission is to value and elevate LGBTQ agriculturalists through advocacy, education, and community. He is making positive change in our college.”

Throughout his time as a student, Smith has been actively engaged in student organizations on campus. He served as president of the Ohio State chapter of Cultivating Change, member and social media chair of Voyagers, treasurer and fundraising chair for Collegiate FFA at Ohio State ATI and founded the Ohio State Wooster Campus Food Pantry.

During his summers throughout college, Smith interned with an international non-profit in Ghana, West Africa. “The experiences working with subsistence farm women to promote gender equity in micro-loans and savings has guided my career goals post-graduation to pursue a career in international development and community based program planning,” he said.

One experience during his internship has become his favorite college memory, caravanning alongside bull-elephants in the Guinea Savanna in Ghana, West Africa.

In the classroom, Smith enjoyed the classes that promoted learning outside of the classroom by offering volunteer opportunities at local nonprofits in the Columbus community.

“Community leadership graduates are skilled in diverse areas of community based engagement to solve the most wicked problems effecting communities across the world,” said Smith. “ If you are passionate about equity for all, progressive social change through science-based education, and creating positive change for entire communities – then community leadership is the major for you.”

Following graduation, Smith will be pursuing a graduate degree in international development.

In Ghana, Africa during his internship.

Hanging out with Brutus in the Ohio Union.

ACEL Distinguished Senior: Trent Baldwin

Trent Baldwin is a senior studying community leadership with a focus in community and extension education from Salinas, California.

Baldwin transferred to Ohio State from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo where he was majoring in agricultural business. While at Cal Poly, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in youth development and extension education, which was not available there, so he decided to make the move to Ohio.

“I visited Ohio State for a conference and immediately fell in love with the university and campus,” said Baldwin. “Coming from a much different setting than Columbus, it was exciting to move to a city with so much to explore.”

In its second year, the Distinguished Senior Award recognizes top students in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership. This year, Baldwin is one of 10 students to be selected by faculty for the honor.

Of his nomination as an ACEL Distinguished Senior, faculty noted that “Trent has been engaged in activities outside of the classroom, from helping to lead camp counselor workshops to participating in national 4-H organization events. He also has maintained a strong academic standing throughout his undergraduate career.”

As a student at Ohio State, Baldwin immediately got involved on campus. He has served as treasurer of Ohio State’s chapter of Cultivating Change, a national foundation whose purpose is to value and elevate LGBTQ agriculturists through advocacy, education, and community, service coordinator for Pi Lambda Phi, and an events chair for Collegiate 4-H. He has also been involved with Social Change with the Office of Student Life that brings together the communities of Ohio State and the State of Ohio through community-driven, multi-disciplinary programs to empower the local community.

Baldwin has completed internships with both the Licking County and Ashtabula County extension offices, where he assisted with the 4-H programs during the summer.

“It was an incredible and formative experience, and it taught me a lot about the work involved in youth development, not only with the individual child but with the whole community,” said Baldwin. “These internships helped me understand more about the experience of being an extension professional.”

Noting that his time with the Ashtabula County Extension Office was one of his best college memories, Baldwin said he came from a different background than Ashtabula County, but was embraced by the community and learned a lot from his experiences.

He also enjoyed the real-world experiences that several of his community leadership major courses offered, including the Teaching Methods in Non-formal Environments (Community Leadership 5330) and Prevention and Youth Development Through Sport, Recreation and Play (Social Work 2110).

“Having the experiences to develop my own lesson plans and design my own programs has been exciting,” he said.

Following completion of his undergraduate degree, Baldwin plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work.

“The community leadership major has so many potential career paths that it can prepare you for, and covers a variety of relevant information that anyone going into community work or development should know, such as leadership and educational theory, program design and more,” he said.




Baldwin on The Oval with the Non-formal Methods of Teaching course conducting tours of Ohio State’s campus.

Baldwin (far right) with OSU Mountaineers at Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia.

With his Pi Lambda Phi fraternity brothers.

Congratulations Trent and we wish you the best in your next endeavor! Thank you for letting ACEL be a part of your college experiences!

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Mary Rodriguez

Dr. Mary Rodriguez is an assistant professor and academic advisor for the community leadership program in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL).

Rodriguez received her B.S. in Agricultural Education in 2008 from Texas A&M University, he rM.S. in Agricultural Education in 2010 from University of Florida and went on to complete her Ph.D. in Agricultural Extension at UF in 2015.

Dr. Rodriguezhas conducted research in multiple areas including women and community development, building resilient communities, developing community food security, and community leadership.

As a Buckeye, Dr. Rodriguez has taught a variety of classes in our department including research methods, extension education in developing countries, foundations of personal and professional leadership, and methods of teaching in nonformal learning environments.

In addition to her involvement in ACEL, she also holds memberships in several organizations including Association of Leadership Educators (ALE), American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE), and the Association for International Agriculture and Extension Education (AIEE).

We are so glad to have supportive faculty like Dr. Rodriguez in our department!

Reid shares experiences with future students at university’s Buckeye Bound event

This past weekend, community leadership student Deja Reid served on a panel of current Ohio State students at the Buckeye Bound event.

Buckeye Bound is a series of visit days for admitted students. Deja, and her fellow current Buckeyes, shared with the high school students about their experiences at Ohio State.


Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jera Niewoehner-Green


Dr. Jera Niewoehner-Green joined the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) in August 2017 as an assistant professor of community leadership.

Niewoehner-Green teaches courses for ACEL about foundations of personal and professional leadership, youth organizations and program management, the leadership capstone project and critical perspectives in leadership development.

Prior to becoming a Buckeye, Dr. “N-G”, as the students call her, spent more than nine years as a public school educator for Metro Nashville Public Schools teaching Spanish and leadership development courses, as well as working outside the classroom as a Career and Technical Education academy coach for the Academies of Nashville, before returning to graduate school to obtain a doctorate in leadership development at the University of Florida in 2017. Her research at UF focused on women’s empowerment participation in leadership roles in rural Honduras.

She earned a B.A. in Spanish from Sweet Briar College and a post-baccalaureate teaching certification from St. Edward’s University, where she studied abroad in Spain at the University of Seville. She also completed her student teaching in Monterrey, Mexico through instructing pre-service primary teachers at the Escuela Normal Migeul F. Martínez. During her tenure at MNPS she completed her M.Ed. in community development and action at Vanderbilt University with research focused on high school service-learning to address community issues.

We are so thankful to have Dr. N-G as a member of our ACEL family!

ACEL Research: featuring Dr. Scott Scheer

Dr. Scott Scheer, along with coauthors Jacqueline M. Nolting (ACEL PhD alum) and Andrew S. Bowman, published an article in the research journal Zoonoses titled, “Perceptions and attitudes of swine exhibitors towards recommendations for reducing zoonotic transmission of influenza A viruses.” According to the abstract for the study, “Although significant efforts have been made to increase signage at swine exhibitions (warning of risks associated with eating/drinking in animal areas), a majority of respondents report eating/drinking in the barn and are unwilling to change their behaviours. This study provides evidence that developing and disseminating static recommendations to reduce zoonotic disease transmission is not enough to change human behaviour to prevent future variant IAV infections associated with swine exhibitions.”

Nolting, J. M., Scheer, S. D., & Bowman, A. S. (2019). Perceptions and attitudes of swine exhibitors towards recommendations for reducing zoonotic transmission of influenza A viruses. Zoonoses, 41, 1-5. DOI: 10.1111/zph.12574

For more information, see:


News Release: ACEL students selected to join CFAES ambassador team

Five students from the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership were recently selected to join the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Ambassador Team. The CFAES Ambassador Team members give prospective families tours of our college campus, serve as liaisons to the Ohio State student body to increase awareness around our college and attend CFAES events as representatives of the college.

ACEL students recently selected to join the team include:

  • Alexis Elliott, agricultural communication, Mount Victory, Ohio
  • Ethan Keller, agricultural communication, Sharon Springs, New York
  • Olivia Pflaumer, agriscience education, Chillicothe, Ohio
  • Paige Schaffter, agriscience education, Edon, Ohio
  • Brittany Weller, agriscience education, Bellevue, Ohio

“Their selection to serve as an CFAES ambassador not only signifies their abilities to represent our department, but to represent CFAES as a whole,” said Dr. Tracy Kitchel, professor and chair of ACEL. “Our students tend to be well-represented among the college ambassador ranks because of our department’s dedication to and study of connecting with people in and around our industries and communities.”

These five students join 12 ACEL students currently serving as a CFAES Ambassadors. They include: Emma Lynn Johnson (community leadership), Wyatt Jones (agriscience education), Taylor Lutz (agriscience education), Cody McClain (agriscience education), Micah Mensing (agriscience education) Abby Motter (agriscience education), Cody Myers (agriscience education), Meredith Oglesby (agricultural communication), Milan Pozderac (agriscience education), Sydney Snider (agricultural communication), Kayla Walls (agriscience education) and Meghann Winters (agricultural communication).

CFAES ambassadors are selected each Spring Semester through an application and interview process.

ACEL Students named to Autumn Semester Dean’s List

During Autumn Semester 2018, 81 students from the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership were named to the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Dean’s List.

Congratulations to these students for their outstanding work in the classroom.

Agricultural Communication
Madeline Bauer
Amber Bergman
Alexis Elliott
Keri Felumlee*
Hanna Fosbrink
Joanna Frankenberg
Courtney Fulton
Christina Gaerke
Paige Hamrick
Jane Hulse*
Mary Jenkins
Kathaleen Kuhn
Kasey Miller
Mariah Morris
Emma Newell
Meredith Oglesby
Bailey Pees*
Makayla Petersen
Haley Plahuta
Louisa Pullins
Eva Scott
Sydney Snider
Maria Stavridis
Zachary Steiner
Linnea Stephens
Marlee Stollar
Kamala Sweeney
Kalyn Swihart
Maura Waitkus
Meghann Winters
Jessica Woodworth
Kiersten Wright

Agriscience Education
Gabrielle Adair
Jenna Alfman
Ellen Andres
Megan Bergman
Maryellen Bliss
Makayla Eggleton
Kristen Eisenhauer
Troy Elwer
Kayla Erickson
Katie Fath
Mitchel Gehret*
Caleb Hickman*
Alexis Howell*
Wyatt Jones*
Alaina Kessler
Klayton Kilzer
Samantha Kline
Elizabeth Landis
Madison Layman
Taylor Lutz
Cody McClain*
Josie McDowell
Summer McLain
Micah Mensing*
Chloe Metcalf
Abigale Motter*
Devon Mullen
Julia Naus
Taylor Orr
Milan Pozderac
Ellyse Shafer*
Sydney Stinson
Claire Vilagi
Kayla Walls*
Barbie Warthman
Brittany Weller
Chloe Wilson*
Emily Wilson
Haley Wilson

Community Leadership
Madison Allman
Trenton Baldwin
Melanie Fuhrmann*
Courtney Hovest
Allyson Irwin*
Emma Johnson
Sarah Longo*
Allyson McCurdy
Amelia Michaels
Emily Paulsen
Kayla Ritter*
Rachel Stoneburner*

* indicates a 4.0 GPA