My American FFA Degree: Meredith Oglesby

One Organization. One Blue Jacket. Endless Opportunities.

Meredith Oglesby, Hillsboro FFA

“I believe in the future of agriculture.” This simple statement is presented by countless first year FFA members each year. Some saying it simply because their FFA advisor made it an assignment, while others are competing in the creed contest. These students having no idea the impact one organization, one blue corduroy jacket can have. I was one of these students, I never imagined that the early morning competitions, National Convention trips, and the countless memories made with my FFA Chapter would shape me into the individual I am today.

The American FFA Degree is the highest degree a FFA member can achieve. On October 28, 2017 I was fortunate enough to earn this degree, ending a six year journey through the FFA. Receiving this degree meant all the hard work had paid off. My SAE projects I maintained to be able to receive this degree included raising, showing, and selling market beef cattle and market lambs. I also maintained a herd of 25 breeding cattle. I grew pumpkins and gourds to sell to family and friends during the fall and also developed a garden at the Highland County Homeless Shelter.

I will never be able to express how grateful I am for the experience I had through the FFA. I was fortunate enough to serve as the 2016-2017 Ohio FFA State Vice President where I advocated for agriculture and Agricultural Education, while engaging with students to increase their leadership skills. Traveling through the state meeting FFA members and seeing the diversity of this organization showed me the future of agriculture is bright. I will hang this degree on my wall to serve as a reminder of the organization where I discovered a passion for the agricultural industry, gained some of my closest friends, and found a love for serving others. Wearing my blue corduroy jacket may have come to a close but I will always be a proud supporter of the FFA. I will continue to encourage others to immerse themselves in an organization that allows you to find your purpose and embrace your passion.

Oglesby with her American FFA Degree.


My American FFA Degree: Taylor Orr

This has been a long-term goal of mine since I entered into FFA my freshman year of high school. There was a wall in our classroom that showed just a few pictures of those who had received their American degree in the past. I knew at the time that very few FFA members typically got it because of all the work that was needed, but I was determined to have it. So, every year I worked my way up, getting each of my degrees until I could accomplish my ultimate goal. I had a wide variety of SAE projects that I spent a lot of time with. I raised my own personal flock of show sheep, raised market hogs and took many different agri-science fair projects over the years. Finally receiving this degree was such an amazing experience and I hope to help my future students achieve their goals just as my FFA advisor helped me to achieve mine.

Orr with her American Degree.


My American FFA Degree: Maggie Hovermale

By Maggie Hovermale
Williamsport, Ohio
Agriscience Education

On October 28, 2017, I zipped up and unzipped my blue corduroy jacket for the final time. Getting an American FFA Degree is something that all FFA members are encouraged to strive for, and I was in denial that it was finally my turn. I had spent many FFA conventions as a member sleepily watching people from my chapter walk across that stage to receive that gold key. So much time and experiences have happened between then and now and I’m so thankful for the young woman I am today because what that blue jacket has taught me.

That day was a special one, because it marked the first two American FFA degrees from Stoneridge FFA, the chapter I helped to build from the ground up with my peers, and my agricultural educator who is an ACEL alum, Mrs. Rachel Scior, ’04. I had held in the tears in until Mrs. Scior pulled me aside and said, “Thank you. You helped build this FFA chapter and I’m forever grateful for your dedication. You are leaving a lasting impact.” I felt so humbled and so much love from that statement… and then began to cry.

That moment reminded of me of exactly why I am pursuing a degree in agriscience education, to leave a lasting impact. I thought I’d be sad hanging up my jacket for the final time, but instead felt excited knowing that the next chapter of my life is full of hope, leading, teaching, and soon taking my own group of students to convention.


Maggie wth her advisor Mrs. Rachel Scior, after receiving her American FFA Degree.


Maggie with members of the Stoneridge FFA Chapter.

Buckhenroth wins National FFA Agricultural Communications Proficiency

Kolt Buchenroth, a freshmen studying agricultural communication at the Ohio State University, Lima Campus, was named the winner of the National FFA’s National Agricultural Proficiency for agricultural communications.

Buchenroth of the Kenton – OHP FFA Chapter in Ohio began his career in agricultural communications when he was offered a job at WKTN Radio as the agriculture news reporter.
Serving the northwest Ohio region, he works to report factual,
accurate and engaging agricultural news to his listeners.
Buchenroth also manages the Hardin County Fair website and other social media outlets. After graduation from Ohio State, he plans become a farm broadcaster.

ACEL Students Earn American FFA Degrees

The Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership had 17 students receive their American Degree at the 2017 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 28th.

The American FFA Degree is awarded to members who have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to FFA and made significant accomplishments in their supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs). Approximately 4,000 American FFA Degrees were handed out this year at the National FFA Convention. This number represents less than half of one percent of all FFA members, making it one of the organizations highest honors. In addition to their degree, each recipient receives a gold American FFA Degree key.

Those students from our Department who received this honor include:

Agricultural Communication
Lea Kimley, Southeastern FFA
Adison Niese, Shelby FFA
Meredith Oglesby, Hillsboro FFA

Agriscience Education
Ellen Dicken, Buckeye Valley FFA
Brittany Heigley, Morgan FFA
Caleb Hickman, Mt. Vernon FFA
Maggie Hovermale, Stoneridge FFA
Alexis Howell, Paulding FFA
Taylor Lutz, Colonel Crawford FFA
Cody Myers, Greeneview-GCCC FFA
Taylor Orr, Utica FFA
Jon Stepp, Bloom Carroll FFA
Emma Sterwerf, Talawanda FFA
Sara Thwaits, Marion Local FFA
Brittany Weller, Bellevue FFA
Blake Willeke, Ada FFA

Community Leadership
Emily Bauman, Ohio Valley Vocational FFA

Alumni Spotlight: Dave Stiles, ’78, ’83 MS

David Stiles is a two-time graduate of Ohio State in agricultural education, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1978 and returning for his master’s degree in 1983. His early career took him to a variety of positions, but he has been teaching agricultural education at Indian Valley High School since 1986 and he has been serving as an adjunct professor in agribusiness at Kent State University – Tuscarawas since 2016.


[ACEL]: Hi Dave! Tell us why you selected to major in agricultural education at Ohio State.
I decided when I was a sophomore in high school that I either wanted to become a “Vo-Ag” teacher or a 4-H Extension agent.  I had always enjoyed working with other kids and an “ag ed” degree would enable me to fulfill that.

At that time, attending Ohio State was the only option unless you went out of state, and I could start out at the Lima campus and live at home my first two years.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
Essentially solidified it.  During my freshman year, my father had the opportunity to expand the farming operation to include me into the operation full-time, but we decided that I would possibly be better off finishing college first. Wise choice (especially on my father’s foresight) as had we expanded at that time we most likely would have lost the entire farming operation during the agricultural recession in the 1980’s.

What were you involved in as an Ohio State student outside of the classroom:
Agricultural Education Society my junior and senior years, OSU Lima Men’s Choral my freshman and sophomore years. I also worked at Kroger’s on 12th Avenue in Columbus during my junior and senior years – it was an eye-opening experience for an old “farm boy”.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State? What was your favorite and why? 
It would be easier to list which classes I enjoyed the least: any math class (I only reached Math 116!) and livestock Anatomy which was supposed to be an elective for “non-vet” majors, but I think I was the only “non-vet” student in the class!

Favorite classes would have to have been Agricultural Education 330 (teaching methods with “LH”), Agricultural Economics 310, Welding with Dr. Gleem and Papriton, and most of the other agricultural education and agricultural economics classes that I took.

Share with us a faculty or staff member that had an impact on your time at Ohio State.
Number one would have to be Dr. John Starling.  Dr. Starling served as my state supervisor when I started teaching, in addition to teaching the record keeping/accounting (FBPA) course at Ohio State.  When I left teaching (the first time), Dr. Starling was persistent in seeing that I returned to teaching, as that “was what I should be doing” in his words. Others that have had a major influence in my teaching career include: Dr. Kirby Barrick, Dr. LH Newcomb, and, Dr. Joe Gleem.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
The “Auglaize County Home for Wayward Boys”, a large 9-bedroom house on 19th street that held numerous “social events” throughout the years.  Picture Animal House. Enough said.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
Teaching “production agriculture” at St. Marys Memorial High School.

Share with us other places you have worked throughout your career.
1978-1982: Vo-Ag teacher at St. Marys Memorial; 1982-83:  Agricultural Techniques of Tomorrow (Farm Management Consultant.) 1983-1984:  FBPA Instructor at Penta County Adult Education.  1984-1986; Commodities Broker, Office Manager for FGL Commodities, Fairmont Indiana; 1986 – present:  Agricultural Education Teacher at Indian Valley High School, Gnadenhutten.  2016-present:  Agribusiness Adjunct Professor at Kent State University-Tuscarawas.

During your career, have you received any awards or honors?
Honorary American FFA Degree, National FFA Association, 2016
Outstanding Educators Award, 2012, Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau Association
Ohio Outstanding Teacher in Agricultural Education, 2009, Ohio Association of Agricultural Educators
Honorary State FFA Degree, 2009, Ohio FFA Association
Region I (National Finalist) Outstanding Teacher in Community Service, 2006, Association for Career and Technical Education
Ohio Outstanding Teacher in Community Service, 2006, Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education
Outstanding Program in Agricultural Education, 2000, Ohio Association of Agricultural Educators
National Models of Innovation Finalist – Chapter Development, 2001, National FFA Organization
Ohio Pacesetter Award, 1998, 2000, 2006, Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education
Outstanding Educator Award, 1998, Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce
National Finalist:  Models of Innovation – Student Development, 1997, 1998, National FFA Organization
National Winner:  Models of Innovation – Student Development, 1997, National FFA Organization
Outstanding Program in Agricultural Education, District 8, 1994, Ohio Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association
AgriScience Teacher of the Year Finalist, 1992, Ohio Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association
Outstanding Young Teacher, 1982, Ohio Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
Teacher chaperone for the National FFA International Experience Award Winners. I was able to visit and experience the agriculture of Ireland, summer 2017.

What advice would you give to a current student?
Find your passion and stick with it, but don’t be afraid to try other things. It is better to have tried something else and discover it wasn’t your best fit, than to go through life wondering “what if”.  For an agriscience education student starting out: When it is all said and done, the only thing that will matter to your students is not how much you knew, but that they knew you cared.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?
Reinforced social skills, confidence, and a positive attitude.


Mr. David Stiles receives the Honorary American FFA Degree at the 2016 National FFA Convention from Sydney Snider, Eastern Region Vice President and Ohio State agricultural communication student.



My American FFA Degree: Joanna Lininger

By: Joanna Lininger
Agricultural Communication

As a member of the Mohawk FFA chapter near Sycamore, Ohio, I was involved in activities from soil judging to job interview contests.  My Supervised Agricultural Experience included 173 acres of crop production and starting my own Boer goat breeding herd.

Receiving my American Degree proves that all of the dedication and hard work that I gave to the program was worth it.  I have learned a great deal through FFA and my love of agriculture grew.  In fact, I most likely would not be a student at The Ohio State University studying agricultural communications without FFA.

Through FFA, I was introduced to the Columbus campus and all of the opportunities it had to offer.  I am thankful for my experiences in FFA and honored to receive my American Degree.


My American Degree: Katie Fath

By: Katie Fath
Agriscience Education

In 2011, I zipped up my FFA jacket for the first time as a greenhand, from there I had no idea where that blue corduroy jacket was going to take me. In that jacket I have achieved so much, made many friends, went many places, and made many memories. It ended up showing me what my true passion was and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I found a true passion for agriculture and I decided I wanted to become an agriculture teacher and change lives of all the greenhands that walk into my classroom.

As I zipped up my FFA jacket one last time to receive my American Degree I realized without my FFA advisor and this amazing organization that cares so much for the future of agriculture and forming teens to be true leaders, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. It shaped me to be the strong, courteous, independent women I am and lead me to setting goals and the will to achieve my goals like earning the high degree and FFA member can receive. Thank you to my family and friends who pushed me to be the best I can be.


My American Degree: Abby Motter

By: Abby Motter
Agriscience Education

You can’t help but be overwhelmed with powerful memories when you zip up that corduroy jacket for what will be the last time. You remember what it was like trying it on for the first time as a freshman, how much anticipation and excitement you had for the years ahead. How funny official dress seemed, how baggy the jacket was for your scrawny body, and how strange panty hose felt. You remember the trips, the contests, the friends, the funny moments, and the transformation from what you were, to what you are becoming. You hold on to the happy times and the exaggerated simplicity of life as a high schooler. You remember the first paragraph of the FFA creed, the rules for Division of the House, and to tuck in your tally-wacker. You know the impact you can have on a younger member, and the powerful influence your FFA Advisor continually has on you and countless other students.


Most importantly you recognize that when you take off that jacket for the final time you have a responsibility. The support of your family, friends, community, and school – anybody who ever once bought a case of citrus trio, bid up your feeder calf at the fair, attended your chapter banquet, or coached your soils team, gave you the gift of the FFA. There was only one catch – now it is your turn to give back to the organization that has given us all so much. Receiving the American FFA Degree is noteworthy, yes; it signifies over 5 years of dedication to premier leadership, personal growth, and career success. However, the American FFA Degree is an opportunity to sit on the other side of the desk, and serve the next generation of blue jackets.


This year I have the amazing opportunity to watch my sister begin her journey in the FFA. When I hung up the jacket a little over a week ago I held on to the memories, knowing my sister is already making her own. I am excited to serve this great organization as an alumna, and work towards fulfilling my dream of becoming an Agricultural Educator and FFA Advisor. I know that my role as “Miss Motter” enables me to encourage more students to find their potential, chase after their dreams, and walk across that stage at National Convention one final time.