Specht honored with national educator award

Oct. 4, 2023

At the annual American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE) conference, Dr. Annie Specht, associate professor of agricultural communication at The Ohio State University, was selected as the 2023 Distinguished Agricultural Communications Educator.  

This award, given to one agricultural communication faculty member each year, recognizes an individual AAAE member for outstanding accomplishments in the agricultural communication profession based on outstanding accomplishments, evidence of excellence and impact in area of award through significant experience and activities, accomplishments, public dissemination of work, leadership, service and engagement related to AAAE, and service to the broader community, college and university. 

In October 2022, Specht was awarded the Distinguished Agricultural Communications Educator Award at the North Central AAAE Conference. The selection of that award qualified her for the national award.  

“Our department, and our students, are thankful to have professors like Dr. Specht,” said Dr. Shannon Washburn, professor and chair of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL). “Students consistently reference her as a teacher and mentor, which further demonstrates her selection for this award.”  

Since joining ACEL as an assistant professor in 2014, Specht has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses including Exploring ACEL, Publication Design and Production, Agriculture Feature Writing, Advanced Agricultural Communication Technology, Data Visualization and Scientific Storytelling in FAES, Applied Communication Theory and Practice.  

She also has taught classes related to communication to public audiences, media literacy, presentation strategies for agricultural audiences, agricultural media writing, agricultural publication production and television production through her employment at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an assistant professor and as a graduate student at Texas A&M University. 

Dr. Specht said “receiving the Agricultural Communications Educator award from AAAE is such an honor, especially given how many talented ag comm faculty there are across the country! I’ve been a member of AAAE since graduate school and being recognized by my longtime peers is really special to me.” 

To Dr. Specht, this award highlights how vital working with a great team is to individual success.  

“I am so lucky to have an amazing group of colleagues who have helped and supported me in my ten years as a faculty member, and I’m excited to work with them to continue to make the agricultural communication program and ACEL the best in the nation.” 

To students in the ACEL Department, professors are an important part of their success.  

“From the very first day of class I knew Dr. Specht would be a professor I could always count on for advice. She is constantly willing to help her students succeed and is a wonderful mentor,” said Emma Bower, a senior studying agricultural communication from Jenera, Ohio. “I’ve learned so much personally and professionally from Dr. Specht and I appreciate everything she has done for me.” 

As an educator, Specht not only leads classroom instruction, but also plays a role in the development of curriculum and courses and has led program revisions for the agricultural communication major and minor to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to prepare them for careers in the industry upon graduation. 

“What I feel makes her so deserving of this award is her service to agricultural commjunication and the agricultural education professional organizations,” said Dr. Emily Buck, professor of agricultural communication at Ohio State, in her nomination letter. “She has been a rising stay in our field for several yeats and has made a great impact at our university and nationally. From teaching to research to service, she is the epitome of what we need in our colleagues.” 

In addition to her role as an associate professor in ACEL, she is also an alum of our department. Specht holds three degrees from Ohio State, a B.S. in agricultural communication and a B.A. in English that she earned in 2008, and an M.S. in Agricultural and Extension Education in 2010. In 2013 she graduated with a PhD in agricultural communication from Texas A&M University. 

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, please visit acel.osu.edu.