Aaron Fowler is a student in our online Master’s program and is also a Program Assistant for OSU Extension Greene County. A native of Greene County, Aaron grew up in Fairborn, Ohio where he was first introduced to 4-H when he was 16. Aaron joined 4-H in high school and credits the program for helping to “break him out of his shell.” Although Aaron participated in other activities such as ROTC and Marching Band, he feels that the 4-H is unique in its ability to provide each person with an individual voice and find that person’s unique talents. Aaron found that 4-H helped him to see leadership as something that can be grown and nurtured instead of a characteristic that some people are born with. He says that 4-H gave him a sense of purpose and impact as well as an ability to see that what he had to offer was valuable and not just a repeat of what someone else had to offer. His positive experiences with 4-H have helped shaped his career decisions and are helping to direct Master’s project as well.
Aaron earned his undergraduate degree from Wright State University where he majored in Psychology. After college, he went to work for a local mental health organization where he worked with clients in group home settings. While he enjoyed this experience, he found that he was limited in the ways in that he could help clients and so the impact was not always as good as it could have been. One way Aaron saw that he made a difference was when clients came to Aaron to talk through their troubles. He could see that these mini- therapy sessions were beneficial and that many times his clients just needed someone to talk to. While this was rewarding, he was sometimes frustrated with a system that he wished was “a little bit different.” Aaron was still involved in 4-H as an advisor and found that he enjoyed this type of a role which led him to consider a career in Extension. Aaron’s first job made him an advocate for mental health, something he also hopes to incorporate in his Master’s project.
Aaron now works with SNAP-Ed where he enjoys the “immediate impact” he sees in his clients through education. While Aaron teaches SNAP-Ed to a wide range of ages from preschool to senior citizens, he primarily works with students in alternative high schools. He uses the Extension program, “My Plate” to teach low-income families how to eat healthy on a limited budget. Eating healthy does not have to be something that breaks your budget. Aaron is inspired by Roger Rennekamp’s description of the SNAP-Ed program: if SNAP benefits are the fish, then SNAP-Ed is like teaching people how to fish.
For his Master’s project, Aaron hopes to combine his passion for 4-H with his advocacy for those with mental illness. He would like to see 4-H become the activity that youth with disability and mental health disorders come to as their source for development outside of school. For this, he draws inspiration from Temple Grandin who credits 4-H and having the ability to work with animals from a young age in helping inspire her in her work. Aaron is just finishing his first semester in the program, so he is still not quite sure how he is going to combine these ideas in his project, but this is the direction he would like to take. In addition to his academics, Aaron serves as the online representative for the Graduate Student Association. This role is still developing, but Aaron as an online student himself, Aaron would like to find ways to keep the students in the online program involved with the Graduate Student Association. This may be through Zoom lunches or other distance opportunities. Watch for more information on this as the semester progresses. The one constant is that he is looking to make sure that everyone feels like they are part of the group. If you are an online student and have ideas for Aaron, please feel free to e-mail (fowler.440). When not busy with his graduate studies, Aaron enjoys spending time with his family. He is lucky that brother Ryan, sister Emma, and mom Karla are also located in Greene County and they are able to get together often.