Dr. Ed Osborne ’82 completed a doctoral degree in agricultural education at Ohio State. He is currently at the University of Florida as a professor of agricultural education.
[ACEL]: Why did you decide to get a doctoral degree in agricultural education?
[Osborne]: I’ve always loved the schooling environment and the field of agriculture, so becoming a high school agriculture teacher was an obvious career choice for me. After teaching at the high school level for four years, I had an unexpected opportunity to teach in the agricultural education program at Virginia Tech for one year and discovered that I enjoyed teaching at the college level even more (I loved both).
Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
Ohio State was THE place to earn a Ph.D. degree in agricultural education in the 1980s, and one of the faculty members there (Dr. Larry Miller) had been one of my professors in my undergraduate program at Virginia Tech. He had been encouraging me to pursue a Ph.D. degree for several years.
How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
My doctoral experience at Ohio State really stretched my perspectives in many ways and gave me a great foundation as a beginning agricultural education faculty member. Ohio State, Columbus, and the Midwest presented a dramatically different academic and community environment for me, compared to my rural southwest Virginia roots. I’ve always loved learning, and the opportunity to learn and broaden my perspectives seemed endless at Ohio State. My experiences there solidified my decision to become a university agricultural education faculty member.
What were you involved in as an Ohio State graduate student?
As a graduate student, I was involved in our graduate student organization and honorary societies. In addition, the large and diverse graduate student community in the department at Ohio State made for a wonderful doctoral experience.
What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
I really enjoyed the research series (methods, design, data analysis). The professors in these courses (Miller and Warmbrod) were simply outstanding and made the concepts and principles very easy to understand. I also thoroughly enjoyed serving as a TA for Dr. Newcomb in his teaching methods course. He was a master at teaching the problem solving approach, and his expertise and effectiveness in this course were perhaps the best I have ever seen to this day.
What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education/career?
The three faculty member’s that impacted me the most during my time at Ohio State were Drs. Miller, Warmbrod, and Newcomb. Dr. Miller was an outstanding academic advisor and teacher, and Dr. Warmbrod and Dr. Newcomb were superb teachers. In addition, I always admired Dr. Warmbrod’s ability to find the simple in the complex, whether it was a concept in teaching or data analysis or a controversial discussion at a professional conference.
What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
My graduation day, of course, stands out. Probably my favorite memories were from all of the time our graduate student group spent together at socials, going to football games, and playing on our intramural water polo team. We rocked!
What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
My first job after earning my Ph.D. degree from Ohio State was that of visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (I was appointed to an assistant professor position the following year.)
Where has your professional career taken you since you graduated from Ohio State?
I’ve worked at only two institutions since earning my Ph.D. degree at Ohio State in 1982. I began at the University of Illinois and continued there for 15 years as a faculty member in teacher education. This involved teaching and advising undergraduate and graduate students, conducting research, and providing teacher professional development programs. I was appointed Chair of the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication at the University of Florida in 1997 and remained in that position until July 2016. I returned to the faculty thereafter and currently teach graduate seminars, advise graduate students, and conduct research and extension programs focused on teacher well-being and personal resilience. I have also facilitated strategic planning sessions for more than 40 university, professional, and community-based organizations.
During your career, honors or awards have you been presented?
Outstanding Service Citation, National Association of Agricultural Educators, Region V (2014); Distinguished Leadership Award of Merit, UF Chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta (2011); Distinguished Lecturer, American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE) (2010); Outstanding Agricultural Educator, AAAE (2007); AAAE Fellow (2007); President, The National Council for Agricultural Education (2005); President, AAAE (2004-05); Outstanding Instructor, College of Agriculture, University of Illinois (1992); AAAE Outstanding Young Member (1988). I was also coordinator and primary instructor for the UF/IFAS faculty/staff leadership development program for 10 years.
As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
My tenure as department chair at the University of Florida was very fulfilling. We experienced remarkable growth in all areas, fueled by superb faculty and students and strong support from administration and stakeholders. The most rewarding aspect of this work was the opportunity to help people discover and pursue their potential, whether students, faculty, teachers, staff, leaders, or others.
What advice would you give to a current student?
Enjoy the student experience, but never lose sight of your highest priority as a student – learning as much as you can, stretching your perspectives, building personal and professional connections, continuing to discover your interests and potential, and performing well academically.
What did ACEL cultivate in you?
I believe my doctoral program at Ohio State gave me the confidence to step into new arenas and be a contributing member in all types of team environments. My experiences at OSU built the foundation for my work as a faculty member, a position I continue to genuinely love today (decades later).