2024 ACEL Outstanding Graduate Students

May. 25, 2024

Four ACEL graduate students were recognized at our department annual banquet for the contributions to our department, its students and the graduate student community.

Outstanding Graduate Student - Research Award
Erica Summerfield

Over the last 12 months, Erica has been involved with a number of key research projects that have resulted in presentations, publications, and awards. Erica recently submitted a journal article as the lead author to the Journal of Applied Communications and will present a manuscript at the American Association for Agricultural Education conference in May. She also led or assisted with four poster presentations over the past year at the National Agricultural Communications Symposium, AAAE North Central, and AAAE National conferences, as well as the Byrd Climate Symposium. One of her posters was selected as a top 10 research poster at AAAE and named 2nd place for the People’s Choice award. Erica’s future as a researcher is bright, and we know her research will continue to shine as she begins her career as a faculty member in Brookings, South Dakota at South Dakota State University.

Outstanding Graduate Student - Teaching Award 
Hannah Parker

Hannah has served as a teaching assistant within various agriscience education courses and ACEL 8855 over the past three years. Within these courses, Hannah has developed and taught multiple lessons to preservice teachers and supervised students during their senior student teaching practicum. The lessons Hannah has planned and taught were critical in developing the knowledge and skills necessary for preservice teachers to be successful as future educators. 

Hannah has been meticulous and thoughtful in her planning to ensure that her lessons not only deliver accurate content but also allow for student application with clear opportunities to check student understanding. Additionally, Hannah truly understands the importance of feedback, and focuses on providing detailed feedback to her students. Hannah is known for her innovative approach to providing student feedback where she screen-casts the students submission and then records her verbal feedback as she highlights key portions of the assignment. This allows Hannah to provide more detailed feedback beyond what text comments would allow and it provides students the opportunity to rewatch the feedback as they prepare their microteaching lesson plans. We have no doubt that Hannah’s superior teaching will continue as she prepares to move across the country and start her career as a faculty member at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California.

Outstanding Graduate Student - Service/Community Award
Manny Heilman

Manny is pursuing his graduate degree part-time while he also works in the CFAES office of Government Affairs. Despite working full time, he has integrated himself into our graduate student community from day one. He has become a vital member of our Graduate Student Association and was recently elected as President of GSA. Manny has also stepped up to serve on the ACEL Alumni Board, as the graduate student liaison. He was kind enough to volunteer hi time to stake out a graduate student tailgating spot for fall football games and was quick to sign up for a graduate student volunteer opportunity in December. We can always count on seeing Manny at departmental and graduate social events. As a part-time student, he brings a new and important perspective to the group and he’s a pleasure to interact with. Moving forward, we know Manny will continue to give back to ACEL and the GSA through continued volunteer efforts and community building.

Outstanding Graduate Student - Spirit of ACEL Award
Sherifat Alabi

In Spring of 2023, Sherifat was awarded a Sustainability Institute Grant to tell and test the stories of small-scale regenerative farmers in Ohio. Her passion in this project is twofold: 1) to increase the awareness and adoption of regenerative agriculture to aid climate resiliency and 2) to elevate the voices of small-scale regenerative farmers, particularly those who are underrepresented in agricultural spaces, such as BIPOC farmers. Over the last year, she has worked relentlessly to build relationships and trust in industry circles throughout Ohio. She has interviewed 14 small-scale regenerative farmers and transformed the data into written narratives for each farmer. She has worked with ACEL undergraduates to photograph the farmers, has created a website of their stories, and recently launched her Regenerative Champions Podcast, which can be found on Apple Podcasts. She’s currently planning her dissertation research to examine how the stories of regenerative farmers can impact change in their communities. A selection of the stories is on exhibit at the Thompson Library through September 2024. The stories were also displayed at the CFAES EPN event during the Day of Racial Day of Healing, presented at the OEFFA conference as part of a story-telling workshop, and have been on display at the Wooster campus. They will soon also be displayed at the Columbus Metropolitan Library and the brand new Wexner Healthy Community Center on Columbus’ near East Side. Her work has turned heads, jump started new conversations, and drawn interest throughout Ohio and beyond. Sherifat embodies the spirit of ACEL in all that she does.