College Orientation 101: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Written By Lexi Troyer

I recently completed my first year of college at Ohio State ATI and am now preparing to begin my second year in August, majoring in Animal Biosciences. Reflecting on where I was a year ago, I was getting ready for orientation, purchasing items for my apartment, and meeting my roommates. It was an incredibly exciting time, yet also quite overwhelming and chaotic. Currently working in the Ohio State ATI Admissions Office this summer, I speak with incoming students who are experiencing the same feelings I had. While I cannot eliminate their stress, I can share insight about orientation and what to expect for those attending this summer.

Orientation helps new students transition smoothly into college life in several ways.

  1. Orientation will serve as an introduction to campus, whether you have been here before or are visiting for the first time at orientation. You can tour the campus and see important locations like the Wooster Science Building, campus farms, classrooms, inside our apartments, the library, and Café Carmen.
  2. At orientation, you will learn more about the registration process to schedule your classes.
  3. You will also be introduced to various campus resources, including academic advising, counseling services, disability services, financial aid, IT for technical support, Program Excel, the bookstore, and our student life activities on campus. These areas of support will ensure that you know where to seek help when needed.
  4. Attending orientation will also benefit your social integration. You’ll have the chance to meet your peers, make new friends, and build a sense of community. Additionally, there will be panels featuring current sophomores who will answer questions from incoming freshmen. Fun fact, I met two of my three roommates for the first time at orientation.
  5. Lastly before you leave orientation, be sure to get your BuckID, which serves as your official identification card for various campus services, facilities, and activities. Remember that you must bring a government-issued photo ID (i.e., passport, driver’s license, state ID, etc.) to obtain your Buck ID at orientation.

Overall, orientation offers an enjoyable experience that serves as the starting point for acquainting yourself with fellow students, faculty, and staff, as well as the diverse array of programs available at Ohio State ATI. It’s a time filled with excitement and discovery, where you’ll begin to make connections and explore the opportunities that await you during your college journey.

Ohio State ATI Students Elected to Ohio FFA State Office Positions

Written By Lexi Troyer

Caleb Bennett and Gracie Sprague, Ohio State ATI sophomores majoring in Agriscience Education, along with Layna Gordon, an incoming freshman in the same program at ATI, exemplify what it is like to be a leader and scholar. All three have been elected to serve on the 2024-2025 Ohio FFA State Officer Team, expressing their excitement for the year ahead and gratitude towards those who have mentored them to this prestigious honor.

Caleb Bennett was recently elected to serve as the 2024-2025 Ohio FFA State Sentinel. Caleb shares that “the sentinel is stationed by the door, meaning I am to be one of the first faces to welcome members and guests at meetings and events.” Caleb got started in FFA through his middle school FFA chapter, where he gained an interest in going to competitions and competing. His dad also guided him to find interest in FFA, as he is a current FFA advisor and agriculture educator. When it came to running for state office, Caleb was encouraged to apply by one of his best friends from high school, who had also previously served as a State Officer.

Reflecting on his high school FFA experience, Caleb explained that he spent his sophomore year of high school serving as a non-constitutional officer. This means he was there to step in if any of the other officers were absent or needed additional help with a task. His junior year was spent serving as Treasurer and receiving his gold pin for completing a state-rated gold treasurer’s book. His high school officer experience did not end there, though, as he spent his senior year serving as his chapter’s President.

Anticipating the year ahead, Caleb is looking forward to spending another year at Ohio FFA Camp, this year as a State Officer. He is also eager to attend the 2024 State Officer Summit which is held in Washington D.C. When asked about his goals as a State Officer, Caleb said, “I want to learn how agriculture is practiced in different parts of the state and even across the nation.” After college, Caleb has plans to become an agriculture educator in a high school classroom or become a county Extension agent.

Gracie Sprague was elected at the 96th Ohio FFA Convention to serve as one of five 2024-2025 State Vice Presidents at Large. She shares that her task alongside other officers is “to promote Ohio FFA and encourage members from across the state to become involved with FFA.” As a proud third generation FFA member, Gracie’s own involvement with the FFA program began her freshman year of high school when she enrolled in an introductory course called “Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources.” This class, along with her 4-H involvement, led her to further her interest in FFA and agriculture. In high school, Gracie served her chapter as the President throughout her junior and senior years, giving her insight into being a successful officer.

When asked about applying for state office, Gracie shared she was not only inspired by her family and Ohio State alumni who were also FFA involved, but past Ohio FFA State Officers from as far back as 30 years ago as well. Enthusiastic about the year ahead, Gracie is most looking forward to attending Ohio FFA Camp as a state officer. She explained, “It will be a change from attending camp for five days as a member to attending camp for two months as a state officer.” She acknowledged some of the highlights of camp being outdoor fun, guest speakers, and leadership sessions. Gracie also expressed interest in applying for the International Leadership Seminar for State Officers, which takes place this year in Spain and Portugal.

With approximately 30,000 students involved with the Ohio FFA Association, Gracie has set a goal for herself to connect with as many members as possible throughout her year of service. She emphatically states, “I want to let members know that I believe in their potential as a member of the Ohio FFA program.” After college, Gracie looks to become an agriculture educator and/or FFA advisor at the high school level.

Layna Gordon was elected at the 2024 Ohio FFA State Convention to serve as the State Treasurer for the 2024-2025 term. She notes that her task with this position is much like the responsibilities that other officers on the team have: “We all work to support members and advance the Ohio FFA Program.” Following in the footsteps of her mom, grandpa, and great grandpa, Layna began her involvement with the FFA program during her freshman year of high school. She said that at first, she questioned if FFA was for her, although when she began entering public speaking contests, she quickly noticed an improvement in her communication skills. From then on, she realized the positive impact that FFA can have on someone’s life.

While in high school, Layna served as her chapter’s Secretary during her sophomore year and as President during her junior and senior years, further enhancing her experience in FFA. When it came time to apply for state office, Layna found inspiration from past State Officers. She remarked, “I looked up to previous State Officers, most often at FFA Camp. They were always excited no matter how tired they were and were also very supportive to younger members.”

One of Layna’s primary goals for the upcoming year is to meet as many people as possible and support them through any mental or physical challenges they may face. She is excited about upcoming events like FFA Camp, banquets, leadership nights, and chapter visits across the state to learn how inner-city chapters differ from rural ones. After college, Layna aspires to become an agriculture educator but is open to new opportunities that may come her way.

All elected Ohio FFA State Officers complete a rigorous application process where 50 applicants compete for state-level positions. The application process includes a written application, a video presentation of “Why I Desire to Serve as an Ohio FFA Officer,” a writing exercise, and two interviews. If slated for state office, candidates then give their “Why I Desire” presentation live to the delegates during the voting process.

My University Study Abroad Experience

Written By Kelsie Mannasmith

Last summer, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Scotland and England with Ohio State. This was a trip that was tailored specifically to my agricultural communication major. We experienced farms in the United Kingdom, met with agricultural publication companies, and went sightseeing across the countries.

Agricultural Experiences in Other Countries

Ve-Tech Holsteins

Our first agricultural stop was Ve-Tech Holsteins in Mauchline, Scotland. For the most part, the basics of the farm seemed similar to the United States. These were aspects such as the feed pusher, silage, and barn area.

The farmers mentioned that the UK does not produce much hay; therefore, they do not use it as feed. After they said this, it made sense, but I hadn’t thought of it before. Since the UK gets so much rain, it is hard to make hay a primary food source for the animals. So, silage is used much more often than we see in the United States.

Scotland’s Rural College

The second destination was Scotland’s Rural College. Here, we saw their mobile CT livestock scanning facility. They primarily test sheep with this machine. The animals are led through a chute, then elevated to the mobile trailer for scanning. They use the information to improve genetics in a herd, including the measurements of internal tissues and structures.

We also saw the college’s beef facility. The tour guides explained how the feed bins worked to track the health and diet of the cattle. Basically, the bin wouldn’t allow feeding until the animal’s ear tag was scanned by the bin. Then, the restrictive bar would lower, revealing the feed to the animal. I had never seen this before, so I thought it was super cool! I thought it was very conducive to research to have this technology to track how much an animal eats, helping in maintaining growth rates of the herd.

Each of these facilities also featured methane testing areas. The UK focuses heavily on researching adverse effects of farming on the environment, and this is one advancement that will hopefully help them do that in the future. It is not widely used yet, but they are hoping to make the technology better. In summary of the technology, they test different diets on cattle to see which produces the least amount of methane. They aim to adjust diets according to the data that they find.

As a whole, the farms we visited didn’t seem to have much concern for biosecurity, which I am not used to. This is possibly due to their tourist traffic, so it is their way of balancing education and profit for the health of their animals.

After our visit to the college, we had lunch with some students. These students were “pen pals” with the University of Arkansas students that we were traveling with. During lunch, we also had the editor of The Scottish Farmer, Ken Fletcher, speak to us about agriculture in the media. One of the Arkansas students asked what he would title an article if it were the only article he wrote. Ken responded with, “Eat Good Food.”

Netherton Angus

Our next stop was to Netherton Angus Farm in Auchterarder, Scotland. I thought it was interesting that they raised their heifers to have masculine features. This farm produces Scotland’s highest quality marbled meat. I saw the best views in Scotland at Netherton Farm.

Fife Show

The Fife show was essentially a county fair experience. This was interesting because they had all the animals in pens outside—no barns. The show arenas were in the grass, and horses were the largest exhibit.

Farmers Guardian – Agriconnect

We visited Farmers Guardian, an agricultural publication company in England. We talked about their strategies for bridging the gap between agriculture and consumers. I thought it was interesting to hear that this is a widespread topic, not just in the US. We shared FFA with them and how we became interested in agriculture. Many of their employees didn’t come from an agricultural background but had a passion for improving the industry. This was not a big surprise to me because the UK is so focused on the environment and many people are committed to agriculture in that way.

US Embassy

In London, we had the opportunity to visit the US Embassy. We met with Kathy Yao, the Agricultural Attaché for the UK and Ireland. She told us about her experiences before the position she holds now. I thought it was a great way to learn about other opportunities in agriculture. I had never thought of an internship abroad before this.

Cultural Differences

This was my second trip to the UK, so I wasn’t shocked by the culture. Last summer, however, I was very surprised with the slight differences that I noticed.

  • Environmentally conscious: I noticed many signs and labels that mentioned this concept.
  • Meal sizes: Lunch is the most important meal of the day in the UK. Even still, it is still not the portions that we are used to in the US. I can remember a lot of the people in my tour group last summer that complained that it wasn’t enough food. This is a stereotype that I saw with my own eyes!
  • Business hours: Most places close around 6 p.m., which I wasn’t prepared for. Really, if you want to go somewhere, the only places that are open are pubs, as the drinking culture is very different from the US.

Unexpected Differences

I thought that the food would be a lot different than in the US. However, much of their diet contains the same as ours, with less taste. Much of the food was bland, which definitely wasn’t what I expected. However, they did have different kinds of dishes that aligned with their cultural history. I tried many of these dishes for the experience and learned that I prefer food from home.

Impact on My View of Agriculture and Other Countries

My experience with agriculture in the UK helped me to understand the importance of advocating for the industry. When I first visited last summer, I was preparing for my first year of college, and I was able to fully grasp the importance of agriculture as I saw it in different countries. During my trip this year, the experience reinforced my decision to receive an education in agricultural communication, where I can actively exercise advocating for agriculture. These trips also gave me an appreciation for the variation of life that exists in other countries. Without these experiences, I wouldn’t know how others have adapted to fit into their environments throughout history.

Student Spotlight: Ashley Gemienhardt

Ashley Gemienhardt: Madison County office of Ohio State University Extension

Ashley Gemienhardt, an agriscience education student, completed her summer experience with the Madison County office of Ohio State University Extension in central Ohio. From Urbana, OH, Ashley is starting her third year at Ohio State ATI this fall. Agriscience Education encompasses many areas, including animal science, agronomy, engineering technology, and student teaching curriculum, just to name a few. With much of the coursework focused on becoming a high school educator, Ashley wanted a chance to explore the world of Extension education as well.  

Since starting her internship, Ashley has been a part of the county’s 4-H camp, Master Gardener program, and Madison County Junior Fair. Specific to the fair, Ashley helped coordinate the junior fair Skillathon, quality assurance, and junior fair contests throughout that week. She completed much of this work alongside Madison County’s 4-H Educator Laura Dillon, and Amanda Douridas, Extension educator and lecturer at Ohio State ATI.  

From this experience, Ashley improved her skills in organization, team building, verbal and written communication, and leadership. She is hopeful that the skills learned in Extension education will benefit her in future endeavors. Her piece of advice to students is, “Definitely get involved! By getting involved you can make friends to feel more at home. It can also provide some networking that may be helpful in the future.” 

In The Field Friday: Cora Crilow

Cora Crilow: Ashland Soil & Water Conservation District

Agriscience Education student Cora Crilow is expanding her experience in the industry through an internship with Ashland Soil and Water Conservation District. From Millersburg, OH, Cora said “I grew up around agriculture but never worked closely with my local soil and water office, so I decided that this position would be a great opportunity to learn more about the conservation side of agriculture.” So far, she has experienced a bit of everything, though her most notable project is organizing the Rain Beat on Main Street event. 

Rain Beat on Main Street is Ashland SWCD’s yearly event promoting stormwater conservation, where sponsored rain barrels are showcased in the towns around northeast Ohio’s Ashland County. These rain barrels, painted by community members and sponsored by local businesses, can be voted on and will be auctioned at the end of the event. Cora’s job was to organize for the summer, drum up support, and find both sponsor and artist for each barrel.  

Cora also helped early in the summer with educational programs in local schools as well as with technical roles “out in the field.” This helped her build some face-to-face communication skills that were lost during COVID-19 and practice the skill in her community. Cora noted that she enjoyed the educational role but was also excited to be part of the on-site visits and “scout some giant log jams.” 

Cora’s piece of advice for incoming students is, “Diversify your internships and experiences. In my past year at ATI, I’ve learned that employers want professionals with unique experience. Don’t limit yourself to one field or industry within agriculture. Most experience will work to your advantage while applying and interviewing for your ‘big kid job,’ so don’t be afraid to try new things!” 

Student Spotlight: Hana Wagner

Hana Wagner: Why majoring in Animal Sciences with a Specialization in Biosciences was the best fit for me

Written By Hana Wagner

I grew up in the small town of Ashland, OH. Growing up, I would always see the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) commercials on TV, and I would beg my parents to donate. From just those small commercials is where I started to grow my passion for helping animals.  

It sounds cliché, but I have always loved animals, and I always had animals growing up. I begged my parents to take me to riding lessons at a local horse farm. I started to competitively show horses all around Ohio when I was in 8th grade, and from that experience I really wanted to know more about other species. So, my freshman year of high school I worked with horses at CB Performance Horses. Then, in my junior year of high school, I started working at Falling Star Farms, which is a local large dairy operation, because I wanted to broaden my knowledge of large food production animals. I absolutely loved working with dairy cattle, and from there I started to shadow veterinarians around my area.  

In high school, I was super lucky to have the option to go to a JVS (joint vocational school). I started to attend the Ashland County West-Holmes Career Center during my junior year of school in the Animal Veterinary Science program. In that program I got to work with all kinds of animals, like exotics, companion animals, small ruminants, and large animals. We even had surgery days where a veterinarian would come in to spay and neuter the humane society’s animals. Our county did not have a building for their humane society, so they used our school. As a high school student, I was taught basic animal handling and health skills that veterinary technicians learn in school. 

After high school I wanted to leave Ohio and explore. I moved to Murfreesboro, TN to attend Middle Tennessee State University and started working at an emergency vet clinic in my freshman year of undergrad. I saw so many animals who needed serious medical attention, and I gained so many important life skills during this time. After that I decided I needed a slight change, so I started working at a small animal general practice called Brogli Lane Weaver & Alexander Animal Hospital. This is where I knew that I belonged in this profession. I worked under some amazing doctors and colleagues, and everyone was supportive of me coming into the veterinary industry. I saw so many amazing patients and clients and I learned something new every single day.  

After a year of living in Tennessee and being away from family, there were some tough decisions to be made. So, I transitioned back up to Ohio as I knew there was a local school that could still offer a great education in large animals and small ruminants. I started to attend The Ohio State University ATI. While being here I have gained so much knowledge, experience and could not have been happier with my education and my decision to move back to the area. All these things I have listed have majorly impacted my decision to major in Animal Sciences/Biosciences. 


The First Generation: Being a First-Time College Student at Ohio State ATI

For recent high school graduates, going off to college can be the most exciting but also stressful time of their life. For a good portion of our students who are first generation, this leaves both the student and family wondering about what their college path entails. First generation students and their families often find themselves having to learn everything about school that their peers already know. Many families aren’t aware of the stress or process of living on campus, scheduling classes, nor the resources available to our students. Fortunately for students at Ohio State ATI, we offer a number of resources to everyone, with exceptional programs designed specifically for those who are first generation. Small class sizes, specialized tutoring, and and entire department dedicated to Student Success Services ensure students get a leg up should they need it.

Skyelar Rock, who spent 3 years studying at Ohio State ATI, shares her experience as a first-time college student.

“Growing up an only child of two parents who did not attend a four year university left a lot of questions in my mind when it came time for college. My dad was a tradesman, my mom went straight into the workforce as well, and I had no siblings to experience the college process before me. When I applied and got accepted to Ohio State ATI, I thought the hardest part was over. Learning how to do college ‘right’ was a tough process, from starting completely online to then figuring out housing and in-person classes when the time came. Thankfully, once I got to campus, Program Excel and the career counselors helped me find my way through it. Denise Rotavera-Krain, one of the career success counselors, worked closely with me to develop a detailed resume and helped me decide what I wanted to do with my career following graduation. I also worked with our campus transition counselor, Cate Hunko, to ensure my path to the Columbus campus was smooth and stress-free.”

Seth Richardson, a second year student studying Agriscience Education, shares his thoughts on Program Excel, which is designed to help first time college students that are also first generation.

“I found out about Program Excel when Kelly Carmack, one of our Program Excel coordinators, emailed me to set up monthly meetings with the program. She made sure that I was getting the resources I needed, and if I needed specific help with classes, I would work with one of the adult mentors in that area. When I started falling behind in my Introduction to Animal Science class, I began working with Leslie Eisberg; Leslie helped me get back on track and keep my grades up for the rest of the semester. I also worked with Denny on a few occasions, who has been extremely helpful in making sure that I am successful. He went so far as to send me review and study materials over the summer, in preparation for my fall math classes.”

Hana Wagner, a third year transfer student studying Animal Sciences, has found a complete a completely different experience here than at her first university. “At my first college, they didn’t offer any specialized programs for first-time college students. I had many advising difficulties, especially since my advisor covered not only my program, but all students in four other departments. With Ohio State ATI, I found out about Program Excel within the first few months after getting accepted, before school even started. I began working with Leslie on the Animal Science side, and she recommended in the future that for the rest of my classes that I work with Denny. We still had follow up meetings, that way she could still check in and ensure I was making progress academically. Leslie also helped outside of coursework with scheduling classes, as a second set of eyes to make sure my degree audit was coming along. We also worked around with time management, making sure I had the right tools to organize classes, home life, and work life. Since I was a commuter student, I found that they were very flexible around my schedule, going so far as to zoom in with me outside office hours to ensure I was getting the help I needed. ” Ohio State ATI knows first generation like no other. Our staff and faculty understand


In The Field Friday: Hailey Weisman

Second-year student Hailey Weisman, a horse production and management major at Ohio State ATI, is pursuing an out-of-state internship this year in Waxahachie, TX. Since her experience with horses began at smaller facilities, Hailey says she was looking forward to working for Cannon Quarter Horses—a performance horse training and breeding facility.  

Cannon Quarter Horses specializes in cutting, reining, and reined cow horses. Hailey knew she would be able to learn new skills as well as build on the experience she already had working with horses. One notable project Hailey has been part of is learning how to complete a successful ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). ICSI is a technique derived from in-vitro fertilization (IVF), which allows for extremely selective genetic outcomes and guarantees initial fertilization.  

So far, Hailey has gained in-depth experience in reproduction management, including ultrasound and palpation, embryo transfer, and pedigrees, as well as networking with industry professionals. She has also gained the soft skills necessary for general business management, including professionalism, organization, and “working smarter and harder at the same time since there is never a slow moment.” 

Student Spotlight: Lilly Wagner

Lilly Wagner: The Best Part About Having Roommates

When I decided I wanted to come to Ohio State ATI, the scariest part for me was who I was going to be put into a room with. Well, let me be the first to tell you, roommates are fun and make the college experience so much better. I have lucked out with having roommates who have become some of my best friends these past two years. 

One of the perks of having a roommate is cooking dinner together. Here at ATI, we have full kitchens in the apartments, so we usually make most of our dinners at the apartment. Having other people to help cook and rotate meals is nice because it gives each individual a little break from having to cook everything. We also enjoy making meals and memories together while in the kitchen. A lot of our friends come over and we all eat dinner together. It makes meals fun and very entertaining.  

One of my favorite memories with my roommate is late night Fro-Yo runs. We both love frozen yogurt, and it has become a tradition that we go about once a week to get it. It is a nice break from schoolwork and is a great time getting out of the apartment. We have made so many memories throughout the year. 

Having roommates may seem scary because it is something new, but as a student who has had a roommate for the past two years, I have had an amazing experience. Roommates help enhance the college experience, and you make lots of memories together. 

In The Field Friday: Kalleigh Fry

Kalleigh Fry: Gerald Grain Center

Agribusiness major Kalleigh Fry is completing her internship this summer with Gerald Grain Center in Napoleon, OH. Kalleigh, from Archbold, OH, is serving Fulton County and surrounding areas as an agronomy and grain merchandising intern. Kalleigh said she chose this internship for its access to a side of the industry she is passionate about, through hands-on experience in grain, feed, and agronomy.  

So far, Kalleigh has gained experience at the agronomy plant running scales for dry and liquid fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia, and the tender trucks for sprayers. She was excited for the opportunity to travel to all of Gerald Grain’s locations and see different sides of the industry that she can pursue post-graduation. Following her time at the current plant, Kalleigh says, “I will be transitioning to the grain locations with the start of wheat harvest to learn grain scales, grading, and the basic introduction of grain merchandising, as well as anything else that is offered to me!” 

By the end of the internship, Kalleigh said she hopes to have gained skills relevant to this job, as well as in areas like customer and employee relations, problem solving, and personal/professional development. Though many interns would say their fails are the least favorite of their memories, Kalleigh said it was quite the opposite: “My favorite memory thus far in my internship would be my fails! The other employees and I always are able to laugh them off, and it is what I learn the most from. Other than that, each day brings something new to laugh about.”