Eberhart defends MS project

Join us in congratulating Callie Eberhart on the successful defense of her master’s project, “Ohio 4-H Extension Educator and Program Assistant Perceptions of Youth with Disabilities.”

Dr. Jera Niewoehner-Green was Eberhart’s advisor and Dr. Scott Scheer served as a member of her graduate committee.

Stohlmann hired as 4-H educator in Nebraska


Congratulations to Lauren Stohlmann, a recent graduate of our master’s degree program in agricultural and extension education, who has been hired as the Cass County, Nebraska 4-H and Youth Educator. Stohlmann is a native  and former 4-H member of Cass County and will be responsible for teaching local youth about agriculture, science and nature.

Congratulations Lauren!


Wilson named Presidential Fellow

Kelly Wilson, a PhD student studying agricultural and extension education was named a 2018 Presidential Fellow by The Ohio State University Graduate School.

The Presidential Fellowship is the most prestigious award given by the Graduate School to recognize the outstanding scholarly accomplishments and potential of graduate students entering the final phase of their dissertation research or terminal degree project.

Congratulations Kelly!

News Release: Buck completes national leadership development program

Dr. Emily Buck (second from left) with other LEAD21 participants from The Ohio State University.


Dr. Emily Buck, of Marion, was one of 79 individuals who completed the LEAD21 leadership development program. This group of distinguished individuals represents land-grant institutions and their strategic partners from across the nation. Buck is a professor of agricultural communication at The Ohio State University in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL).

Over the course of the past year, Buck met regularly with her peers, both in-person and virtually, to enhance her personal leadership capacity. The graduation was held at the culmination of the third in-person session, where the focus was on organizational leadership through collaboration, communication and leading change.

The primary purpose of LEAD21 is to develop leaders in land-grant institutions and their strategic partners who link research, academics and extension who can to lead more effectively in an increasingly complex environment, either in their current positions or future leadership positions.

“LEAD21 is a great program for faculty to improve their leadership skills and network with other’s in colleges similar to ours across the country,” said Buck. “I have been a part of many similar leadership programs, but this one was exceptional in taking our understanding of our skills and using them to show us how to effect change in the land-grant system.”

Goals of LEAD21 are to enhance application of skills and knowledge across a set of nine leadership competencies, to develop a network of peer leaders to enhance personal leadership practice, collaboration and diversity of perspective and to develop and implement an individual’s leadership development process.

“I am thrilled Dr. Buck had the opportunity to participate in this leadership program that not only benefits her professional growth and leadership, but will also benefit our department and the students she teaches and mentors” said Dr. Tracy Kitchel, professor and chair of ACEL. “Whether she chooses to pursue formal administrative roles in the future or not, the investment is one in faculty leadership, which can be applied in multiple ways. Ultimately, we rely on faculty to provide all kinds of leadership in carrying out the teaching, research and outreach missions of the department, college and university.”

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 acel.osu.edu.

The next LEAD21 class will begin in June 2019. For more information about LEAD21, visit www.lead-21.org.

CFAES Alumni Award: Dr. Bryan Garton

Dr. Bryan Garton
2019 CFAES Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. Bryan Garton is currently associate dean of academic programs in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) at the University of Missouri (MU). Dr. Garton’s academic roots extend to the Department of Agricultural Education and Leadership at MU, where he served the ranks of Assistant, Associate and Full Professor. He has received prestigious awards including induction as an AAAE Fellow, Kemper Teaching Fellow, and many research journal article and conference paper awards.

Dr. Garton has been recognized in numerous ways at the University of Missouri for his teaching excellence at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Within the profession, his recognition is continued as a teacher educator and researcher. His reputation for mentoring graduate students is well-documented by the number of students whose career successes as university professors include leadership titles such as Assistant Dean, Department Chair, Teaching Center Co-Directors and Provost Faculty Fellow from universities across the country.

Dr. Garton is proud to be an Ohio State graduate and in particular, a graduate of this college and our department. He credits his experiences at Ohio State for preparing him for success as a teacher and researcher.


Congratulations Dr. Garton on your success as an agricultural educator and your recognition as an outstanding alum of CFAES!

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Jack Elliot ’88 Ph.D.

Dr. Jack Elliot received his Ph.D. from Ohio State in 1988. Following faculty positions at Michigan State University and the University of Arizona, Elliot is now a professor and endowed chair for International Agricultural and Extension Education at Texas A&M University.

[ACEL]: Hello Dr. Elliot! Why did you decide to get a doctoral degree in agricultural education?
[Elliot]: During my high school agricultural education teaching career, I experienced some very memorable and exciting interactions with students, administrators, and community members. My wife and I decided to further my education with a Ph.D. in agricultural education so I could work with others to improve the profession at every level, junior high, senior high, and postsecondary.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
My wife and I attended the National FFA Convention in 1985 and visited many of the university booths at the career show. When we asked for a list of the top three graduate programs, The Ohio State University was the only university on everyone’s list.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career?
I admired the Ohio State faculty because of their professionalism and involvement within field. They served as my role models during my entire career.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
I was inducted within the Gamma Sigma Delta, International Honor Society of Agriculture. During my final year at Ohio State, I was president of the Agricultural Education Graduate Student Organization.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
Dr. Dave McCracken taught one of the “research series” courses and I enjoyed his teaching style, the way he assessed student knowledge, and his humor.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education and career?
In addition to Dr. McCracken, most of the faculty had positive impacts on my career. However, I did have a difficult time one spring, a medical situation. Dr. L.H. Newcomb provided some gentle support and guidance. I always remembered his sincerity and concern and have tried to emulate that attribute in my career.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
Our family visited many of the presidential sites within the state. We love history and wanted to create memories for our children who were 4 and 9 when we arrived in Columbus.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
There were very few tenure track positions in 1988 when I graduated. A one-year visiting assistant professor position at Michigan State University was available and they hired me. I was able to stay for four years because other opportunities presented themselves which provided funding so I could stay.

For what schools have you worked throughout your career?
After Michigan State, I had a 17 year career at the University of Arizona where I moved through the ranks to professor and became the department chair the final three years before I moved to Texas A&M.

Share with us any awards or honors you have received throughout your career.
2004 Outstanding Post Secondary CTE Educator (Region V), Association for Career and Technical Education
2010 Senior Scientist, Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University
2011 Distinguished Service, Association for Career and Technical Education Research
2012 Senior Fellow, American Association for Agricultural Education
2012 Senior Fellow, Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education
2014 Outstanding Agricultural Educator, American Association for Agricultural Education
2016 Distinguished Alumni of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, The Ohio State University
2018 Endowed Chair, International Agricultural and Extension Education, Texas A&M University

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
I love watching former students succeed. For example, Samantha Alvis recently completed her Ph.D. and is now the Higher Education Officer at USAID.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Dr. Newcomb told me that 95% of what you will face after you leave Ohio State will not be covered by the courses you completed, but the 5% will provide the foundation so you can address and handle almost any situation. That advice is still relevant today.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
The most important attribute is a sense of professionalism. Always take the higher ground and treat others as you would like to be treated.


Alumni Spotlight: Dr. R. Kirby Barrick ’70, ’73 M.S., ’80 Ph.D.


Dr. Kirby Barrick ’70, ’73 M.S., ’80 Ph.D. is a three-time alum of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership, with all three degrees concentrating on agricultural education. Now retired dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida and professor emeritis, Barrick resides in Gainesville, Florida. He also served as a member of the ACEL Centennial Endowment committee.

Why did you select to major in agricultural education?
I knew in high school that I wanted to be a teacher. By my junior year I knew I wanted to be a vo-ag teacher. I was greatly influenced by my teacher (John Stimpert); he was the best vo-ag teacher I have ever known!

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
After thinking about going elsewhere, I easily decided on Ohio State. After all, why not – a top college of agriculture and the best agricultural education department in the country.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
I was well-prepared to be a high school vo-ag teacher. Then things just seemed to develop. Obviously, my Ph.D. in teacher education and higher education led me to a faculty position and eventually into administration.

Share with us how you were involved in student life outside of the classroom.
I joined Alpha Gamma Rho and served as a vice-president and then president of the chapter. I was president of the Agricultural Education Society. I served on Ag College Council, and Social Board (determined activities at the Ohio Union), was Homecoming Queen Committee Chair, May Week General Chairman, and a member of the Senior Class Committee. I was initiated into Bucket & Dipper.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
The agricultural education classes, of course, were good and very important for my career objective. I also enjoyed most of the agriculture classes, especially the advanced entomology course.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education?
Dr. Bender and Dr. Warmbrod are clearly at the top of the list. I recall being in the graduate teaching methods course with Dr. Bender. While the content was great, watching and learning from a master teacher was phenomenal. Dr. Warmbrod has many of those same characteristics.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
Alpha Gamma Rho continues to be an important part of my life. AGR and FFA made me who I am today as a person. Those were great times for learning and having fun. I still get together with initiation class buddies each year.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
Vocational Agriculture Instructor at Sheridan High School (Northern Local Schools), Thornville, OH.

Share with us where your career has taken you over the years.
Sheridan High School – vo-ag teacher
Ohio Department of Education – assistant state supervisor, Agricultural Education Service
Ohio State University – faculty member in Department of Agricultural Education and then department chair, assistant director of Ohio State University Extension and State 4-H Leader
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Associate Dean, College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental sciences, and professor of Agricultural Education
University of Florida – dean, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and professor of Agricultural Education

What honors and awards have you been presented over your career?

  • Fulbright Specialist, 2009 – 2013; 2017 – 2021
  • International Educator of the Year, University of Florida International Center, 2016
  • NACTA Murray Brown Leadership Award, 2016
  • UF 150thAnniversary Morrill Act Faculty Award, 2012
  • Distinguished Lecturer, American Association for Agricultural Education, 2011
  • Hall of Fame, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, 2010
  • Honorary State FFA Degree, Florida FFA, 2010
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Ohio State College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, 2005
  • University of Illinois Dads Association Outstanding Faculty Award, 2004
  • Russell Guin Outstanding Agricultural Educator, American Association for Agricultural Education, 2004
  • Distinguished Educator Award, National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, 2001
  • Centennial Award, Alpha Zeta National Honorary Fraternity, 1997
  • Fellow, American Association for Agricultural Education, 1996
  • Outstanding Adviser Award, Ohio State University Agriculture and Natural Resources Student Council, 1996
  • Honorary Member, Agricultural Education Society, Ohio State University, 1991
  • Distinguished Service Award, Ohio Vocational Agriculture Techers Association, 1991
  • Delegate Coordinator Award, National FFA, 1991
  • Ohio State University Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, 1988 (one of eight awarded annually)
  • Outstanding Young Teacher Award, Ohio State University College of Agriculture, 1986
  • Honorary American Farmer Degree, National FFA Organization, 1985
  • Pomerene Teaching Enhancement Award, Ohio State University College of Agriculture, 1985
  • Outstanding Young Teacher Educator, American Association of Teacher Educators in Agriculture, 1984
  • Honorary State FFA Degree, Ohio FFA Association, 1975

Outside of your career, what organizations or activities are you involved with in your community?

  • Various committees and choirs at five United Methodist Churches: First Gainesville, Gainesville Trinity, First Champaign, Grove City, Faith (West Chester), and Somerset
  • President and member, Alpha Gamma Rho National Board of Directors
  • Board of Directors, The Educational Foundation of Alpha Gamma Rho

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
The department chair is the most important and most difficult position in a university. My term as chair at Ohio State was very rewarding. We had limited funds (I had to “give back” a lot of operating money my first week on the job!!), but the department thrived because we had an outstanding group of undergraduate and graduate students and a devoted faculty and staff. It was a pleasure to serve as chair of the top department in the country and to watch students over the years become successful teachers and Extension agents, university faculty and administrators, and all-around excellent scholars.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Remember that the undergraduate experience is two-fold: being successful in your academic pursuits and developing personal skills that last a lifetime. Work hard, study hard, become involved, and give back to your alma mater.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
I knew in high school that I wanted to teach vocational agriculture. The department was great in helping me develop the skills I needed to begin and advance in a career in teaching and learning as well as in administration. I still enjoy sharing what I learned with others, especially now with university faculty in the U.S. and abroad.

Speaking as the Ohio FFA President in 1966.


Senior photo at Ohio State – 1970


Awarded as an Honorary American Farmer in 1985.


Ohio State’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1988


Speaking at the 2007 commencement for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida as dean.



Teaching in Saudi Arabia in 2018


Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Cheryl Ruey-Fen Bain ’00 PhD

Dr. Cheryl Ruey-Fen Bain graduated with a doctorate in agricultural education in 2000. Originally from Taiwan, Bain spent five years at Ohio State and then returned to her native country. She currently works as an associate professor in the Department of Leisure and Recreation Management and General Education at De-Yeah University.

[ACEL]: Hello Dr. Bain! Why did you select your graduate program and to attend Ohio State?
[Bain]: I graduated from National Taiwan University in 1990. I was working as a teaching assistant and met the ACEL graduate chair, Dr. Larry Miller, when he visited National Taiwan University during spring semester in 1994.  Dr. Miller recruited me to apply OSU.

I was also very lucky to have Rotary International 3-year Ambassador scholarship supported by D3460 (Taichung Taiwan) and hosted by D6690 (Columbus, Ohio).  

I knew many former Ohio State alumni, such as Dr. Liao Cheng-hong, Dr. Shaio, Kuen-shan, and Dr. Shin-Shin Chen, who recommend me the outstanding program of agricultural education. In addition, Ohio State was land-grand university with strong top 4-H program which attracted me when I worked for National 4-H Club Association of R.O.C.  The most important thing was Dr. John Mount, one of rotarians who was vice president at Ohio State, volunteer to be my consultant for 3-year ambassador scholarship.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
I took courses and participatde in 4-H Extension program to explore and empower my knowledge and capability under Dr. Larry Miller, Dr. Wesley Budke, Dr. Cathy Cox, and my mentor and Rotary International scholarship consultant, Dr. John Mount. Now, I am a Rotarian in D3462 since 2003, and advisor of 4-H Club at Da-Yeh University. 

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
I worked as a research assistant for Dr. Larry Brown on his water management project, then I also worked at CCME for more then two years before I attained my Ph.D.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State? What was your favorite and why?
The 995 statistics instructed by Dr. R. Warmboard who guided with practical exercises. I took 995 course syllabus to start my first very graduate course in Da-Yeh University as a popular course in 2000.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education and career?
There were so many great teachers, and staff who assisted my learning at OSU, if only one that I have to choose, I have to pick up Dr. John Mount who became my life mentor and role model.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
The summer 4-H leadership camp as counselor as well as 4-H dormitory supervisor under the instruction of Dr. John Mount and Dr. Cathy Cox at Camp Ohio and the Ohio State Fair. I was the first Asian student to work at camp and state fair to learn by doing with great pleasure.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
After I attained my Ph.D., I return to my home country, Taiwan, to be an assistant professor at the very first department of Leisure and Recreation management at Da-Yeh University in Taiwan. I brought my camping experience to teach and worked for international exchange program in many programs such as 4-H Exchange, Rotary Youth Exchange, and Group Study Exchange with more than 10 countries.

Share the positions you have held throughout your career.
I have been worked for National Taiwan University and Da-Yeh University in my academic career taking more than dozen of research projects on education, tourism, and recreation.

I also volunteer for many international exchange program, such as Rotary International in Youth Exchange, and Group Study Exchange.

During your career, have you received any awards or honors?
I have received as outstanding teaching faculty at Da-Yeh University for more than 5 times since 2009.

As a delegate of Group Study Exchange Program to D1570 in the Netherland in 2003 and became the first female leader of Rotary International Group Study Exchange program with D7190 in 2009.

How are you involved in your community outside of your career?
I helps college students to apply to oversea study programs and there are more than 60 students that have visited South Korea and the United States.

I volunteer for many international exchange program, such as Rotary International in Youth Exchange and Group Study Exchange.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
The international exchange program that I achieved as the first female Rotary International Group Study Exchange leader in Taiwan.

There are more than 60 colleges under my instruction to take camp internships in the United States.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Just do it, God will reward us with His best!

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
ACEL empowered and enriched my informal education experience such as 4-H leadership camp, state fair working experience.  I have been very lucky to enroll OSU to change my life, I cherish and pride to be part of members of ACEL family.



Alumni Spotlight: Larry Seibel ’80, ’83 MS

Larry Seibel graduated with a dual bachelor’s degree in agricultural mechanization and systems and agricultural education in 1980 and completed a master’s degree in 1983 in agricultural education.

[ACEL]: Hi Larry! Why did you decide to major in agricultural education?
[Seibel]: I selected my major as agricultural and mechanization and systems because I grew up farming and had studied ag mechanics for two years at a career center. Once at The Ohio State University, I found I had enough room in my schedule for many electives. Rather than just take bunch of random courses, I decided to dual major in agricultural education – you could do that back then! I wanted to be a regional representative for an agricultural company but jobs in teaching were available and as they say, the rest is history!

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
I choose Ohio State because my high school teachers had gone there and they said it was a great university. They were right!

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career?
Wanting to use my time fully and fate in the job market put me in agricultural education, which I have done for 38 years and thoroughly enjoy.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
I was in the Agricultural Education Society, where I eventually served as the President, and was chosen the “Outstanding Senior Student”. I worked for Dr. Joe Gleam in the Department of Agricultural Engineering in Ives Hall. I was a member of Alpha Gamma Sigma, an agricultural fraternity. I did my graduate work at Ohio State as well, majoring in agricultural education and was in the honor society Gamma Sigma Delta.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
I enjoyed my mechanics classes because I had a passion in that field. I also loved the animal sciences classes I took as electives. My favorite was a small engines course because I really knew the material. I was bored at first, but my professor saw that I was acing the class and asked me to run the lab portion. That was cool, getting college credit and teaching the hands on part!

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education?
Many! Dr. Gleam because I worked for him and took classes from him. A very positive personality! Dr. McCracken, served as my advisor later and always had a smile! Dr. L.H. Newcomb, in my leadership of Ag Ed Society, he was always pushing me to be better!

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
There were so many! Taking my pickup with a load of die hard OSU fans to the game up north! Playing intramural sports, showing cattle in the Little International, walking campus in the snow during the blizzard of 1978, looking up and down High Street and seeing no traffic! Digging down to find the benches at Mirror Lake to sit in the snow and just enjoy the time. School closed for 2 or 3 days, that never happened!

But my favorite memory is probably when Dr. Gleam sent me downtown on an errand run. I usually took the university truck but I went out and it was gone. He reached in his pocket and pitched me the keys to his corvette!!! How many poor 19-20 year olds don’t love the young ladies staring at them as they drive through campus in a Vette!! Honestly, it was because I couldn’t believe he trusted me enough to let me drive it!

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
My first job was teaching diesel mechanics at Upper Valley Joint Vocational School.

Tell us about the positions you have held throughout your career.
I stayed at Upper Valley for eight years. I went to Montgomery County JVS and taught production agriculture for 14 years. I then became the Ag supervisor for all programs on campus and eight home school programs in a four county area. I was responsible for expanding and continuing the quality of agricultural education for those students in that four county area. I have been back to teaching diesel power technologies for the past eight years at the same school, new name, Miami Valley CTC.

During your career, honors or awards have you been presented?
Outstanding Agricultural Education Senior, Honorary Chapter FFA degree from five FFA chapters, Honorary State FFA Degree, Outstanding Service Award from the Montgomery County SWCD, Honored Educator in the National Technical Society numerous times, Ohio Association of Agricultural Teachers Outstanding Teacher in District 5,  distinguished Board Member for years of service on the Tri-County North Local School District Board of Education. Enough!

My best honor is a fantastic wife and family, and my many successful students!

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
My favorite career highlight is being selected by my students to be honored! That’s why I do what I do, to help them down a path to success. The other highlights are great but they are the result of what I do for students and them recognizing me is the best highlight of a career.

What advice would you give to a current student?
I tell my students to open as many doors as they can during their education so they can choose which one to walk through, rather than having to settle for someone else telling them which one they “have” to go through!

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
ACEL cultivated personal responsibility and leadership in me. It also built my confidence which allowed me to advance my life! The coursework taught me the knowledge, but the real reason I was successful at The Ohio State University and throughout my career is because of the many professors at OSU that did more than teach material (as Dr. Newcomb used to say “cats cover material, teachers teach!”). Ohio State cared about me as a person and I have never forgotten that and practice it in my own career.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Kat Zelak

Kat Zelak is currently in her second year of the ACEL Master’s program where she serves as a Graduate Teaching Associate and President of the Graduate Student Association.

Kat’s Master’s Thesis involves looking at the various influences that zoo educators have when selecting programming.

Kat Zelak was born in Burlington, Vermont where she lived until her family moved 300 miles east to Rochester, New York when Kat was four.  Here Kat lived with her parents and her younger brother on a three-acre lot of mostly wooded swamp on the edge of a wetland.  Kat took full advantage of growing up so close to a wetland and spent a great deal of her childhood chasing deer trails and wading in the wetland to find snapping turtles with her brother. Kat was given the freedom to explore as a child, which helped instill a sense of independence.  Kat credits her parents with helping to nurture her inquisitive nature. Her mother was especially supportive of her quest for knowledge and love of animals.  If Kat found a baby bird, her mother would encourage her to identify which type of bird it was and how she could care for it. These early experiences helped Kat to realize that she wanted to help animals in her future.

Kat attended high school in Rochester, New York where she was involved with robotics as well as the marketing and communication team.  As a high school junior, she earned her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouts. For her Gold Award project, Kat started a summer camp, which focused on robotics and alternative energy. This summer program was so successful that the program ended up expanding and is still going strong today. In addition to these achievements, Kat was also involved with ice hockey as both a player and a referee.  As a referee, she was able to referee for the girl’s national game, which was played in Rochester.  Kat also found time to run varsity and worked as a state official. Kat’s high school experiences reflect a wide range of interests and a willingness to tackle large projects and take on leadership roles.

Kat’s love of animals and nature is was evident from an early age- shown here as a tree princess at age three.

After high school, Kat enrolled in Cornell University as an Animal Science major. Kat’s early experiences and her love of animals led her to believe that she wanted to become a veterinarian.  This is the path that she pursued for the first few years at Cornell until she realized that she was increasingly filling her calendar with activities that would “look good for vet school” not because they were these were experiences she would enjoy.  She realized that while she was passionate about animals, she was not passionate about the prospect of becoming a veterinarian. Kat stayed in Animal Sciences but began to explore other courses and look for other career paths.  She found that she enjoyed her major more once it was no longer a competition. Her wide interests led her to take on additional majors in Natural Resources and Biology.

Kat was able to participate in several research opportunities at Cornell including a summer at the Shoals Marine Laboratory in Maine studying defensive responses in moon snails and some time at a coagulation lab at the vet school working on different blood disorders. One of her favorite research projects was for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology where she spent a summer in the remote Northern Territory of Australia studying the impact of fire ecology. Locals were battling an invasive and combustible species of grass.  In an effort to determine if controlled burns or natural burns were the best option, Kat and her group looked at the impact that controlled burns had on the local bird populations as well as the ecological impacts of frequent wildlife disruption. This research kept Kat in the remote Australian outback for four months where the she cooked on a camp stove and the remote location limited her e-mail contact to one time a week. While Kat enjoyed her research experiences, she found she was more interested in talking and sharing about the research.  This helpful insight led Kat to explore ways to combine her love of animals with non-formal and outreach education.

Kat was involved with ice hockey as both a player and a referee.

After graduation from Cornell, Kat took a position working at a songbird rehabilitation center in Burlington, Wisconsin.  In this position, Kat worked to rehabilitate as many as 130 birds at a time, a marked increase from the number of birds she would rehabilitate in the wetland as a child. While Kat enjoyed this work, it did not contain the outreach and education portion she was looking for. This led her to accept a position back in New York at the Seneca Park Zoo, a place she had volunteered and interned while she was in high school.  She was hired as a Part-time Educator, but quickly moved up to Assistant Outreach Coordinator and then Outreach Coordinator.  In this role, she was the educator for any outreach program, school, festival, troop, or class that was scheduled with the zoo.  She enjoyed this work and liked the balance between program management and education itself.  After a year in the Seneca Park Zoo, Kat moved cross-country and began working as an Education Specialist for the Los Angeles Zoo.  The L.A. Zoo was a much larger zoo than the Seneca Park Zoo and Kat was able to see how regional differences, zoo size, and politics can change the programs and educational outreach offered at a zoo.

After graduation, Kat plans to spend a month touring the national parks, shown here with boyfriend Alejandro. 

After working in Los Angeles for a year, Kat decided she would like to go to graduate school and was interested in both Cornell and Ohio State. She liked the large size and flexibility at both schools as well as the high level of community involvement and research.  Much to Ohio State’s benefit, Kat selected Ohio State where she is in the second year of our Master’s program.  For her Master’s Thesis, Kat is taking some of her experiences working at different zoos and looking at the various influences that zoo educators have when selecting programing and presenting information to guests. She is looking at the five large zoos in Ohio: Akron, Toledo, Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.  She has already finished a survey of zoo educators and will follow up with focus groups.  Her hope is that the information gathered from this research project can be used to improve training practices.  Kat is busy finishing this work this semester and hopes to defend her project in April.

After graduation in May, Kat plans to take the opportunity to travel cross-country exploring our county’s national parks.  Kat will end her month of national park hopping in Los Angeles where she is working at a summer camp until August.  After that, she will start job-hunting for a position in non-formal environmental education.  Ideally, Kat would like to be at a zoo, but could also be at a nature center or similar environment where she could combine program management, curriculum development, and community outreach.  Until then, Kat can be found most days in the graduate student office in 109 Ag Admin working on her thesis.  Kat is also the 2017-2018 President of the ACEL Graduate Student Association, where she has made great strides in building community among all ACEL graduate students. If you have a strong effort to build community among all graduate students, she is interested in working to improve GSA events, any ideas or suggestions can be sent to zelak (.1).