Mary Rodriguez, an assistant professor of community leadership in the Ohio State University Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership, was recently honored with the North American Colleges of Teachers of Agriculture Educator Award, which recognizes educators who excel as teachers in agricultural disciplines. She was received the award during the organization’s virtual conference in early June.
Mary Rodriguez (Courtesy of OSU)
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 OSU, 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.
Innovative teaching methods attract students
“Dr. Rodriguez is an outstanding educator in ACEL,” says Scott Scheer, interim chair for ACEL and a professor of community leadership. “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.”
Rodriguez joined the ACEL faculty in 2015 after earning her doctorate in agricultural Extension from the University of Florida. 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.
“Student feedback provides strong evidence of her teaching and learning skills,” Scheer says. “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.”
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.
“When I was working on my Ph.D. at UF, I was set and determined to work for an international organization,” Rodriguez explains. “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. 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.”
For more information on academic programs and research available in ACEL, or to donate to student scholarships, visit acel.osu.edu.