Dr. Mary Rodriguez, assistant professor of community leadership in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL), has been named a recipient of the North American Colleges of Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Educator Award. This award recognizes educators who excel as teachers in the agricultural disciplines. She was recognized as a recipient during the organizations virtual conference in early June.
Rodriguez currently instructs a variety of courses for ACEL, including the Teaching Methods in Non-Formal Learning Environments, Community Leadership and Foundations of International Development. Throughout her time with Ohio State she has also taught Foundations of Personal and Professional Leadership, Research Methods, Teaching Methods in Non-Formal Learning Environments and Extension Education in Developing Countries to both undergraduate and graduate students.
“Dr. Rodriguez is an outstanding educator in ACEL. She has attracted students who have specifically come to our department to work with her, both internationally and within the United States. She uses innovative teaching techniques such as out-of-classroom instruction, demonstrations, and service learning,” said Dr. Scott Scheer, interim chair for ACEL and professor of community leadership. “Student feedback provides strong evidence of her teaching and learning skills. For example, ‘Dr. Rodriguez is a great teacher! She is very engaging, very respectful and understanding of students,’ and ‘Dr. Rodriguez was a phenomenal educator – always challenging and pushing students and providing opportunities for practical application of the material we were learning in class,’ are consistent messages on her course feedback forms. Dr. Rodriguez’s recognition with a 2020 NACTA Educator Award is well deserved.”
Rodriguez joined the ACEL faculty in 2015 after earning her Ph.D. in agricultural extension from the University of Florida (UF). She also holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and a master’s degree in international agricultural education from Texas A&M University, earning those in 2008 and 2010 respectively.
“When I was working on my PhD at UF, I was set and determined to work for an international organization. I wanted to focus my career on research and outreach. Then I got the opportunity to teach an intercultural communication course as the lead instructor. This changed everything for me,” said Rodriguez. “I saw the impact that teaching can make when you push students to think critically and to engage with difficult conversations. I love my research. I love working with communities. But every student that comes away from classes with me thinking about the world in a different way or having found their own place when it’s sometimes hard to do so, makes it all worth it”.
ACEL prepares communicators, educators and leaders in the food, agricultural, and environmental sciences to integrate research-based learning, practice and engagement, in ways that will advance positive changes that strengthen individuals, families and communities. For more information on the academic programs and research available in ACEL, or to donate to student scholarships, please visit acel.osu.edu.