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.”

News Release: Hovermale selected for national agricultural education symposium


Ohio State agriscience education student Maggie Hovermale was selected to attend the Future Agriscience Teacher (FAST) Symposium as part of the National Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 1-4, 2020.

Hovermale is one of 20 agriscience education students from across the nation who were selected to attend the conference’s track for current preservice agricultural educators. Throughout the MANRRS conference, students participating in the FAST Symposium will be provided with a professional development experience for preservice agricultural education majors that includes networking and mentoring with current and future agricultural educators from across the country, as well as attending sessions focused on creating inclusive classroom environments, inquiry based learning, classroom management and job interview success.

“I’m excited for Maggie to have the opportunity to grow in her professional development skills with an experience like the FAST Symposium,” said Dr. Scott Scheer, interim chair of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership. “She will gain key information that will aid her in creating an inclusive learning environment for her future students.”

Hovermale is a senior at Ohio State studying agriscience education. She is a graduate of Westfall High School and is currently competing her student teaching experience at Northwestern High School under the supervision of Mrs. Erica Hillard.

The agriscience education major at Ohio State prepares its students to acquire a license to teach agricultural science in secondary high schools in Ohio and across the country, with extensive training in agricultural science, educational psychology, instructional methods, and youth development. For additional information on the agriscience education major, visit or call 614.247.6358.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Mark Light


Mark Light is a current Ph.D. student studying agricultural communication, education, and leadership. He received a bachelor’s in civil engineering at Ohio Northern University and a master’s in college student personnel at Bowling Green State University.

He is from Ada, Ohio and is currently a full-time 4-H educator in Hardin County and area leader supervisor. In the future he shared that, “My goal is to be a state specialist in Extension and perhaps teach in ACEL.”

“I chose ACEL (for a PhD) because it matches my current career path in Extension… and also because my dad and mom both have a degree from Ohio State.” Mark also shared that the flexibility with online courses has helped him pursue his Ph.D. while living one and a half hours from campus.

As a student in ACEL, Mark’s area of focus is in educational technology and his thesis explores the work-home boundaries of 4-H educators who use personally owned devices to connect with audiences, both internal and external, outside standard office hours.

“Being able to grow and learn more about the profession I am in as a Buckeye is what I love most about Ohio State and ACEL.”




FFA Alumni Spotlight: Rose Zeedyk

Rose Zeedyk is a freshmen studying agriscience education at Ohio State. She came to OSU from the Fairview FFA chapter in Sherwood, Ohio.

Why did you choose Ohio State?
I chose Ohio State because it felt like somewhere I could make “home” for four years and it has a really great agriculture program.

How did FFA help you choose your major?
FFA impacted my choice of major because it showed me how much I loved teaching and advocating for agriculture.

How did FFA prepare you for your future career?
FFA prepared me for my future career by making me step out of my comfort zone and develop skills to communicate clearly and think critically.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Annie Specht

Dr. Annie Specht is an assistant professor and the undergraduate coordinator in the agricultural communication program in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL).

Specht received her B.S. in 2008 and M.S. in 2010 in agricultural communication from Ohio State University and received her Ph.D. in agricultural communications and journalism from Texas A&M University in 2013.

She has conducted research in multiple areas including media portrayals of agriculture, visual communication, social media, and public perceptions of food, agricultural and environmental sciences.

Before coming home to Ohio State, Specht taught undergraduate courses at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in public relations, media production and professional development.

As an assistant professor at Ohio State, Dr. Specht teaches several courses in multimedia production, publication design, news and feature writing and editing, as well as data visualization. In addition to her various roles in ACEL, she also serves on the Ohio State University Senate.

We are very grateful to have an involved and passionate professor like Dr. Specht in our department!

Graduate Student Spotlight: Kenzie Johnston ’16

Kenzie Johnston is a current master’s student in agricultural communication, education, and leadership where she is specializing in leadership. She is from Richwood, Ohio and graduated with a B.S. in agricultural communication in 2016 from Ohio State.

She returned to ACEL for her master’s because she “wanted to become a more qualified extension educator.” She also added that “Ohio State feels like home to me and I love being a buckeye!”

Kenzie is currently working as an extension educator for Delaware County and is conducting research describing the efficacy of research videos used in extension education for her master’s degree.

When asked what she loves about Ohio State and the department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership, she shared that “I love the traditions of Ohio State and CFAES has the greatest people.”

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!

Appalachia Service Project: “A relationship ministry, with a little construction on the side.”


“That is Not Correct” is one of the largest projects ASP has been able to work on through the year-round program. After building walls, restructuring the roof, completing a hug system and siding the house this home will be a warmer, safer and dryer environment for this family.

Bailey Pees
agricultural communication student

COLUMBUS, Ohio – “This organization, since the first time that I came, has obviously changed my life in more ways than one,” said Annalee Posey, center director fellow for Appalachia Service Project. “But this year-round program, specifically, has offered a whole new dynamic to that and has provided me with such personal growth.”

Appalachia Service Project (ASP) is a faith-based ministry with a mission to eradicate substandard housing in Central Appalachia by offering free home repair to individuals suffering from poverty.

ASP facilitates a summer program that requires the help of approximately 200 staffers and serves more than 25 counties. Each center and county vary in some way, but the work ASP does, over the course of this eight-week volunteer program, is only part of the organization’s efforts to fulfill its mission.

Jonesville, Virginia is one of ASP’s year-round centers, which hosts volunteers and continues construction throughout the rest of the year, offering a completely different pace and perspective compared to that of the summer program.

Posey said that while working for ASP in the summer, volunteers and staffers don’t necessarily get to experience the negative effects that families go through during the winter months.

“Going into my first fellowship year, last year, that was the biggest thing that stood out to me and stuck with me the most,” said Posey. “I didn’t expect to see the real struggle through winter. It was very difficult. You see a lot of reality behind the work that we do and the effect that it can have.”

The year-round program also allows volunteers the opportunity to see positive effects that come along with making a home warmer, safer and dryer.

“You don’t just see the numbers and the statistics that we give our volunteers about the projects,” said Posey. “You see those in action a lot more and why it’s important.”

Posey said ASP’s year-round program is also different because the demographic of volunteers includes mostly adults, whereas summer volunteer groups tend to bring more high-school aged individuals.

“The pace is different, as far as the energy levels, but also very different as far as seeing construction and relationships happen way faster with all adults,” said Posey.

Kristina Rowles, regional coordinator for ASP, has now worked full-time for this non-profit organization for nearly 3 ½ years, with an additional five summers on staff.

Rowles said the year-round staffers or “Fellows” are able to tackle more difficult and complex projects too, due to the skill level of volunteers generally being higher.

“Sometimes a roof is just too complex for our summer volunteers to tackle,” said Rowles. “If we know that we have a very skilled adult group coming in, we’re able to tackle that and then that provides a dry home for someone who otherwise would not get that opportunity.”

Rowles said similar to the summer program, projects are chosen based on budget, skill level of volunteers, distance from the center and timeframe. Each project and the program, as a whole, is predominantly funded through volunteer fees, independent donors and federal grants. ASP centers also occasionally facilitate special fundraisers for materials and projects that may be outside the initial budget, such as water heaters, septic systems and room additions.

Posey had a perfect example of what it’s like to originally turn down a family and watch them suffer for yet another year, due to safety concerns, budget regulations and skill level limitations. However, after lots of strategizing, Posey and her staff were able to accomplish one of their most impactful projects yet.

“It just wasn’t part of our scope at that point,” said Posey. “It took a lot of planning and a lot of preparation, and a lot of Adam Bean, our home repair coordinator, coming in to explain things, and a lot of prayer. But we’re able to see something cool, a really high impact project happen that is normally completely out of ASP’s scope.”

Not only does ASP touch the lives of individuals by simply offering free home repair, but the staff, volunteers and organization work to build strong relationships with the homeowners and help in any other way they can.

Posey said they met a family in need of home repairs that directly correlated with ASP’s scope and skill level, but these repairs were required in order for the family to stay together. Needing a new HVAC system and bathroom floor could have soon been the cause of these parents losing their children, if ASP hadn’t stepped in to help. Through different conversations with Social Services and having the right volunteers at the right time, ASP was able to fulfil their needs and help this family stay together.

“That was a whole new type of relationship building that we got to witness and were able to be very directly involved in,” said Posey. “Not only our volunteers getting to know them, but helping them continue getting to know each other, as a family, was just really cool. That was definitely high impact that was unexpected, but that’s God.”

After volunteering for eight years and working as a volunteer coordinator in Cocke County, Tennessee, I can attest that there’s something to be said about the relationships built through ASP.

In 2013, I attended my third ASP trip and served in Knox County, Kentucky. The family that my crew worked for couldn’t live in their home while ASP was doing repairs, due to limited space and safety concerns. The married couple chose to live in a camper, on the same lot, with their 7-year-old grandson, Ethan, who they seemed to take care of regularly.

On the day we met, I was wearing a Champion Show Feed t-shirt and Ethan said, “I’m going to call you Champ.” After that short conversation, I immediately knew our relationship was going to grow very quickly.

Within a couple days, the whole work crew had nicknames. Ethan loved turtles and “Call of the Wildman,” so naturally he became Turtle Man for the week.

Every day, Ethan wanted to help with the projects we were given. Due to his own ambition, he even learned how to hold a hammer, but as the week came to an end and projects came to a close, it was time to say goodbye to Ethan and Knox County.

On our last day of work, we gifted the family with some useful items and gave Ethan a set of Legos, which he would potentially cherish for years to come.

While we were hugging and saying our goodbyes, I asked Ethan if he was going to miss us.

Without hesitation, he looked up at me, arms still wrapped around my waist, and said, “I ain’t ever letting go.”

It was in that moment that I realized how much of an impact we truly had on Ethan, over the course of just one week. My relationship with that 7-year-old boy is something I will hold close to my heart forever, but it also serves as a symbol that we don’t meet individuals by accident. People are meant to cross our paths for a reason, especially those we meet through an organization as impactful as ASP.


This feature story was written by Bailey Pees, an agricultural communication student enrolled in the Agricultural Communication 2531 course during the 2019 Autumn Semester. Dr. Joy Rumble instructed the course.



Graduate Student Spotlight: Abby Sanders

Abby Sanders is a first year master’s student in agricultural communication, education, and leadership, where she is specializing in agricultural communication. Hailing from Clarksville, Arkansas, Abby graduated with a bachelor’s in agricultural business from Arkansas Tech University in 2019.

She currently works as a teaching assistant with Tom Stewart in the Agricultural Communication 3130 (Oral Expression in Agriculture) where she assists during the instructional period and evaluates student speeches during labs. This semester she has also added a research project to her experiences and will be working with Dr. Joy Rumble.

As for her master’s project, Abby will be developing communication and marketing materials for the Arkansas Tech University (ATU) Department of Agriculture. This project is one of love as she knows it will help increase the visibility for her alma mater and give her a chance to work with her former instructors and peers.

She chose to come to Ohio State because she said, “I felt it was a great fit for me academically and the agricultural communication program and faculty are well-known in the industry. A degree from this university will open opportunities for me I wouldn’t have otherwise.” She comes from an agricultural business background and feels the combination of business and communication will serve her well when she enters the workforce.

When asked what she loves about Ohio State and the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership, she said “Similar to my previous experience at ATU, the culture in this program is wonderful. I have found lifelong friends and professional connections that will truly change my life. Choosing Ohio State will always be one of my best decisions.”

ACEL Faculty Spotlight: Tom Stewart


Tom Stewart joined the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership as a lecturer in 2005. One of is long term goals was to teach and over the past 15 years has taught the Department’s courses is public speaking, public relations and senior transition from college. He has been awarded the Price Teaching Award, the NACTA Teaching Award and in 2019 was recognized by the University with the Distinguished Lecturer Award.

Before joining ACEL, Stewart worked in the broadcasting industry for more than 25 years as an account executive, general sales manager, general manager of WBNS Radio and eventually general manager and vice president of WBNS-TV. During his tenure at WBNS Television, Tom returned the station to dominance in community presence, gross advertising revenues and audience programming ratings. Tom retired from WBNS-TV in 2001.

In addition to his work in communication and education, Stewart has also been involved in the Columbus and Central Ohio community having served on the boards of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, The Community Shelter Board, The Grange Mutual Insurance Company and many more.

He is a graduate of Upper Arlington High School and The Ohio State University, where he obtained a degree in communication and education in 1972.

We are thankful for Tom’s dedication to our students and outstanding teaching abilities!