A New Reality


By: Abby Motter, Agriscience Education | Mansfield, OH

Driving into the Peñas Blancas Mountains of Nicaragua you might first recognize the breathtaking mountains covered in colorful foliage, the muddy dirt road, or the homes and buildings scattered across the countryside. However, after spending time there you will realize it is the people that will stick in your memory.

Just last week I spent two nights in the rainforest with a Nicaraguan family that belonged to a Coffee Grower’s Community and Cooperative. I was fortunate to have this opportunity through signing up for a First Year Experience Study Abroad Program at orientation through the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Part of the experience involved splitting into small groups and completing a home stay with a local family. The families we stayed with spoke little to no English, worked full time as coffee farmers, and did the best they could with their low income that required countless hours to earn. These farmers will harvest every day from October to February, at the end of the harvest season they will receive one paycheck that must last for an entire year.


My family lived in a beautiful valley with potatoes, coffee plants, banana trees, chickens, geese, and mountain hillsides with tropical flowers everywhere. Although my group and I were able to communicate in some Spanish, both cultural and lingual barriers still existed. It was through the youngest daughter, an eight year old named Katalina, we were able to form the strongest connection. Just like many eight year old girls in the United States her favorite color was pink, she loved kittens, and her favorite princess was “Nieve Blanca” or Snow White. When we presented the children of the family with a brand new bouncy ball, we had the whole group of us playing. Later that evening the older boys of the family asked if we had “tarjetas” or cards, they soon were teaching a new game similar to Rummy. We shared pictures of our families and helped our host mother make tortillas over the open wood fire.  When our host father put up our mosquito nets at night we were there holding the hammer and nails, just like a child would with their father in a rural Ohio home.  We may live completely different lives, but we had so many similarities.


Staying with a family of a different culture, socioeconomic status, and completely different language was a humbling and perspective changing experience. We may have walked up a muddy hill to an outdoor latrine, showered with a bucket of mountain water in the open air, shooed chickens out of the kitchen, and witnessed a spider larger than my hand; but our host family lived with incredible dignity and expressed continual happiness. In our country too often we associate personal fulfillment and contentment with the amount of material possessions we own, the house we live in, the car we drive, the job we have, and the friends we keep. Instead, in the quiet mountains of Nicaragua this family was happy for companionship, the beautiful scenery all around them, good food to eat, and a sturdy tin roof over their heads. I am grateful for the chance to learn about another culture, and the reminder of all the things we have to appreciate.

Hireabuckeye…Buckeye, Hired!


By: Kayla Starlin, Agribusiness and Applied Economics | Logan, OH

Job searching can be tedious, long, tiring and stressful. That’s all multiplied when the search comes in the midst of classes, exams and extra-curriculars. But thanks to Ohio State and the career services that our college provides us, I was lucky enough not to worry about any of that. This is my final semester here at Ohio State, and I was blessed to spend the entirety of it knowing that I was employed upon my graduation. I’m ecstatic to say that I will be a sales trainee with AgReliant Genetics beginning in January, but that’s also attributable to the support from Hireabuckeye, my professors and mentors here in CFAES. Hireabuckeye helped to connect me with an internship that was the perfect fit for me. It’s thanks to that internship that made me insurmountably more attractive in the job market. I’m most certainly not the only one in my situation either, as several of my friends and classmates had secured jobs well before the second week of classes. Our college prides itself in our students’ hireability upon graduation, and they do so for great reason.

Blue Corduroy Buckeye

sydney snider

By: Sydney Snider, Agricultural Communication | Moscow, OH

Just six years ago, I zipped up my blue corduroy jacket for the first time to attend National FFA Convention. I remember sitting in the nose bleed sections of the arena listening to the national officers speak about our organization and honor its members. My first trip to convention set me on a journey that transformed my life. That trip sparked a light within me to become more involved with FFA, grow as a leader, and become a stronger advocate for agriculture. Even though I didn’t realize it until much later, my first convention trip also led me to make the decision to run for national FFA office.

Running for office involved a lot of preparation, growth, and passion. However, my time spent preparing were some of the most influential and transformative months of my life and they led to a moment that will stay alive within my heart forever. As the final session began at the 88th National FFA Convention, I thought back to the first convention I attended and the passion that grew from that trip. These thoughts and memories allowed my worries and anxiety to leave and truly enjoy what could have been my last convention session in the blue jacket. As the election process began, I was calm and excited to find out who would serve our organization. The music began and nothing could prepare me for what was about to happen. Hearing “Ohio” called was one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever experienced. In an instant, everything seemed to slow down as I (not so gracefully) ran to the convention stage. Out of breath and in shock I could only hear the roar of the crowd and my heart beat loudly as my teammates and I gathered together for the first time.

This year, I am excited to serve an organization that has helped me discover countless values, skills, and passions. As a national FFA officer, I will spend the next year traveling around the country interacting with FFA members, advisors, sponsors, and supporters. I am proud to represent the Ohio FFA Association and The Ohio State University at the national level. As I am knee deep in training and preparation for the year, I am feeling especially grateful for the support and encouragement of those who have helped me along this journey. I look forward to bringing a piece of that, a piece of Ohio, everywhere I go this year.

Ask Me Bout My Turtle


By: Summer McCracken, Agribusiness and Applied Economics | Anna, OH

Ask me about how we were in The Columbus Dispatch. Ask me about how we got to sing Carmen Ohio with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ask me about that 32-pound bundle of joy above Zeke’s head (a.k.a. IllyIllibuck, the 2nd oldest trophy in the Big Ten Conference). Ask me about how I joined an organization full of incredible student leaders, and how it transformed into a family. So go ahead: ask me about Bucket and Dipper Junior Class Honorary.

Last fall, I wanted to get more involved at the university level. I took a risk and applied for Bucket and Dipper Junior Class Honorary. No one knew my name nor did I know theirs. Together a group of thirty strangers embarked on a yearlong journey of scholarship, service, and leadership. For those most involved (including myself) were chosen to go on the University of Illinois’s football field for the beloved tradition of the Illibuck Pass. Seven members of both Bucket and Dipper and our sister fraternity from University of Illinois, Atius-Sachem, strolled out onto the football field during the fourth quarter of the Illini/Buckeye game. Joy gleamed on each of our faces as 60,000 fans cheered us on. I stood at the end of the pass waiting for the trophy to come back to OSU’s possession. Finally, I received Illy and I could not contain my excitement any long. Jumping up and down, waving Illy around, and yelling for all to hear as I ended the Illibuck Pass.

If that wasn’t extraordinary enough, we received a surprise from our advisor and Ohio State. Bucket and Dipper would be returning to the field again to sing Carmen Ohio with the football team. The game ended and the speckle of red at the corner of the stadium shouted at the approval of another Buckeye win. Somehow I landed among the offensive lineman. Television does not do these men justice. They were twice the width of me with another foot and a half in height. But together, we swayed back and forth on the field for the cherished tradition of Carmen.

When I first started, I didn’t realize the significance of the big wooden turtle or the impact the group of thirty members would have on me. I am honored to be serving as the Selections Chair for this prestigious organization. To learn more information about Buckeye and Dipper or to apply, go to


Leadership is Not a Destination, It is a Journey


By: Micah Mensing, Agriscience Education | Oak Harbor, OH

I always appreciate the opportunity to travel, meet new people, and learn something new, and that is exactly what I got to do while attending the Agriculture Future of America Conference. Each year students from Ohio State apply to attend AFA, an intensive leadership conference held in Kansas City, Missouri. The conference’s goal is to allow every student that attends to learn something completely new about themselves and how to become a better leader, so that students can continue to build on their skills sets until they graduate from their respected university. This goal is accomplished by breaking up all the students into four different tracks, where each track focuses on a different leadership skill set. Each track has students from universities from all over the country, which allows Ohio State students to interact with other students with the same interest from all over the United States.

I had the opportunity to participate in track one, in my track we discussed the importance of networking, managing our time, dining etiquette, and how to keep all of our thoughts positive and innovating. It was very important for all AFA participates to know how to be professional while networking because of the four hundred company executives and representatives that were in attendance and interacting with us at all times. With having so many networking opportunities available, a lot of business cards were exchanged and internships offered while in Kansas City for those four short days. While at the conference we had to take advantage of every second that we were given, so for us that meant early mornings, late nights, and lots of learning in short periods of time. Time management was a lesson that was talked about, and acted upon while at the conference so that we could get the most from our experience.

From the amazing four course meals that were consistently served, to meeting new people, and reconnecting with friends from the past, my AFA Conference experience was one like no other experience I have ever had. I was once told that leadership is not a destination, it is a journey, and I feel that the AFA Conference has made a huge impact in my leadership journey.

Gateway to Grain Handling Careers


By: Garrett O’Donnell, Agricultural Systems Management | Killbuck, OH

This past February, 12 student leaders from The Ohio State University Agricultural Systems Management Club had the opportunity to attend the annual Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS) Exchange in St. Louis, Missouri. The GEAPS Exchange is the largest conference for grain handling and processing. This was a great opportunity for students to make industry connections, to learn about new and upcoming technologies and practices from across the grain handling industry.

Fellow classmate and friend Ryan Riddle and I planned and organized the logistics for the trip to St. Louis; everything from hotels to rental cars to registration to tour stops. Along the way, we set up tours with Consolidated Grain & Barge (CGB) Enterprises in Jeffersonville, Indiana, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Company and Anheuser Busch Brewing Company in St. Louis, Missouri. The tours really helped students receive a thorough overview of the grain handling industry. For some, this was the first time visiting a barge terminal facility or a facility larger than their local country elevator. Since we were in St. Louis, we also journeyed 630 feet up to the top of the Gateway Arch!

The highlight of the trip for me was the Student Day at the Exchange. We had the opportunity to visit the trade show, meet and interact with grain industry professionals, and industry suppliers in many facets of the industry. We participated in round table discussions with professionals from several major grain companies, where we could ask questions about the industry, learn about internship/career opportunities and network with other student attendees with similar interests. Not only was this a rewarding experience for me but an invaluable experience for all who attended. Eight of the 2015 attendees, including myself, are now pursuing grain handling careers.

In 2016, the GEAPS Exchange is in Austin, Texas and The Ohio State University Agricultural Systems Management Club will be there!

Not All Cows, Sows, and Plows


By: Annabel Skubon, Agronomy  | Medina, OH

My first week at Ohio State ATI, I couldn’t remember a single person’s name. Every time I met someone new, they were introduced by their nickname. Coming from a graduating class of almost 700 students, I thought I was good at putting a name to a face after meeting a person only once. After coming to Ohio State ATI, I realized that you remember people because they left you with an impression worth remembering.

Ohio State ATI is an entirely different world, it incorporates the feeling of both the small-town and big-city America, all in a little village we call Applewood. The cliche saying of “don’t judge a book by its cover” has never been more true. My freshman year, I had three resident advisers, and if you would’ve asked me then I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that one of them would become my best friend. She had purple hair, and was the tiniest person with the biggest personality. The second week of school I finally talked to her in person at a school bonfire. I thought she was one of the strangest people I had ever met and I was nervous to even talk to her, until she tweeted at me and told me I was one of the funniest people she knew. I knew right then we were destined to be friends.

That is exactly how life works sometimes, one day you see someone acting goofy, and the next day you realize you have more in common than anyone you’ve ever met. Why judge someone when you can experience everything that makes them great instead? That purple headed RA has taught me more lessons here and in life than any class I could take.

Ohio State ATI will teach you to step out of your comfort zone. Whether that means breaking down and asking for help, only to find out you had more people there for you than you imagined, or realizing that sometimes people will hurt you, and it’s in those times you find your true strength. It’s not all about cow anatomy and crop health here, although this place will teach you to be the best in agriculture, this school gives you lessons in life. We might be a bunch of down home farm kids, but here, we get to view the world through a lens that maybe people will never understand. This small school in an Amish town will make you grow and become a better person, and you might just be knee deep in cow crap when it happens.

A Day with the Dean

donuts with the dean

By: Craig Berning, Agribusiness and Applied Economics | Anna, OH

As students in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences we are fortunate to have a Dean who loves to interact with students. On November 6th many students had such an opportunity. The morning began with a CFAES Student Council sponsored “Donuts with the Dean”. For an hour and half Dean McPheron gathered and talked with students, staff, and faculty as everyone began their day. Later that evening, students who are members of the CFAES Ambassador Team, MANNRS, and the CFAES Student Council were welcomed to the home of Dean and Mrs. McPheron for a “Dinner with the Dean”. The dinner was an opportunity for students to have personal conversations with Dean McPheron and each other in an informal setting. Toward the end of the evening Dr. McPheron addressed students thanking them for their hard work both in and out of the classroom. It also provided students an opportunity to thank the Dean for his hard work and care for students. CFAES is lucky to have a dean who makes it a priority to interact and get to know students. Thank you Dean McPheron!

Coming Together at Convention

Mary Siekman Blog Picture 1

By: Mary Siekman, Agricultural Communication | Delaware, OH

There are many reasons I look forward to attending the National FFA Convention & Expo each year. I enjoy seeing blue jackets swarm in from all over the country, taking in the energy that floods the convention hall and reconnecting with old friends. But the one thing that makes attending convention each year something I look forward to is simple – the people. It is definitely people who make National FFA Convention great and this year I was lucky to spend it with some pretty great people.

Some of the people I spent most of my time with were members of the CFAES Ambassador Team. Together we spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of Convention working in the Ohio State CFAES booth talking with FFA members as perspective student to our college. Students were able to participate in science experiments and make buckeye key chains (I had to explain what a buckeye was to a student from Georgia…something I never thought I would have to do!). The coolest part about being in the OSU booth was having the opportunity to chat face to face with students from literally all over the country about why I love Ohio State and what our college has to offer students.

Students in our college weren’t only working in the OSU booth, but instead could be found all over Convention. Some of my peers were working at different company’s booths they had previously interned with, facilitating workshops with National FFA, serving as Ohio FFA Officers, receiving their American FFA Degrees, being elected to the National FFA Officer team (yay Sydney!!) or just there to support their friends. Faculty were also present during the week. Dr. Emily Buck was at convention working in the FFA News Room and also received her Honorary American Degree (be sure to tell her congratulations!)

Convention is not only a time to reconnect with old friends, but also to meet new people, too. It was such a great surprise to see Chris Soules, an Iowa farmer who recently starred as the Bachelor on the ABC television show, was at the Monsanto booth! Even though he forgot to bring me a rose I was still so excited to finally meet Prince Farming.

Residence Hall Family

Norton fam

By: Kayla Walls, Agriscience Education | Mendon, OH

Coming to The Ohio State University in Columbus is daunting for anyone—nonetheless being a freshman from small town Ohio. City life was a huge change for me but luckily, I live a building full of kids just like me. Being in the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences Learning Community located in Norton House is such a blessing. You will often walk down the hallway to see open doors and friendly faces to greet you. Not only that, but someone is always up to do things with you—be it playing volleyball, grabbing something to eat, watching the Bengals, or going to Zumba.

With that being said, my favorite part of being a Buckeye is meeting new people and creating new friendships. With a graduating high school class of only ninety-three, everybody knew everybody. It is so nice to come to a new place with a fresh start. I know that the friendships I have made from living in Norton House these past few weeks will last more than the next four years of our college careers, but a lifetime. These friends made Norton my home away from home, and for that I am forever thankful.