CFAES Connect: February 2021

  1. Register for the virtual CFAES Alumni Awards Ceremony

    The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) invites you to the 2021 CFAES Alumni Awards Ceremony. 

    The program will be on Thursday, March 4, at 7 p.m. EST through YouTube Premiere. 



    Register for the free event here!


    The YouTube Premiere link will be sent to the email you registered with the day before the ceremony. For event-related questions, please phone Chan White in the CFAES Office of Advancement at 614-292-8740 (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST), or email  

    2021 CFAES Alumni Award Honorees 


    Young Professional Achievement Award 

    Cindy Barrera, ’16 PhD Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

    Ken Davis, ’08 BS Agribusiness and Applied Economics


    International Alumni Award 

    Claudio Ribeiro, ’05 PhD Animal, Dairy, and Poultry Science

    Yuri Lopes Zinn, ’05 PhD Soil Science


    Distinguished Alumni Award 

    David Adamkin, ’70 BS Animal Sciences

    Robert Downey, ’77 BS Animal Sciences

    Marsha Martin, ’78 MS Plant Pathology, ’81 PhD Plant Pathology

    John Newton, ’10 MS, Agribusiness and Applied Economics, ’13 PhD Agribusiness and Applied Economics

    Sen. Bob Peterson, ’83 BS Animal Sciences

    Sally Rockey, ’82 MS Entomology, ’85 PhD Entomology


    Meritorious Service Award

    Susan Crowell, Editor, Farm and Dairy Newspaper

    Bobby Moser, Faculty Emeritus, The Ohio State University; Former Dean, CFAES


  2. CFAES alumni spotlight: Yolanda Owens

    Yolanda Owens

    A love affair with agriculture

    By: Tracy Turner

    It was a love of food that began when a young Yolanda Owens, ’07, spent summers at her grandparent’s home in North Carolina.

    Memories there of her grandmother planting in the garden and later, the delicious aroma of persimmon bread baked from scratch using persimmons her grandmother foraged and picked with her own hands, spurred Owens to begin growing food in her own backyard on Columbus’ south side. It was there that Owens formed a lasting connection with food.

    Years later, that love of food and agriculture led the Columbus-native to CFAES, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural communication and international economic and social development. Owens, who is the first Black/Latinx president of the CFAES Alumni Society Board, has since translated her passion into a career that affords her the opportunity to help to grow a love of agriculture in the next generation of Black and Brown youth—by helping them reclaim their place as stewards of the land. 

    “As an advocate of healthy food access, much of my career has been to connect youth to healthy food,” she said. “Whether it is teaching about how to grow food, what to eat, what career choices they have, I want to connect the dots between Black people and our food.

    “I believe that we need to be sitting at the decision-making table when it comes to Ohio’s number-one economic contributor, agriculture.”

    That’s significant, considering that of the nation’s 2.2 million family-owned farms, only 5% are minority owned, with 2% of those owned by Black farmers, Owens said. In Ohio, according to the 2017 U.S. Department of Agriculture Ohio Census of Agriculture, there are only 136 black owners of farms across the state’s 88 counties.

    Owens, who is the founder and chief cultivator of Forage + Black,, an apparel and garden consulting company, has a goal of helping change this narrative by promoting interest in agriculture careers among students of color.

    “Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Ohio, so it’s important to more educate students of color in this field so that they can be a part of this huge space in our economy,” she said. “Without any knowledge of agriculture, students of color are missing out in this sector.”

    Part of that could be achieved by promoting agriculture education in more schools, including districts with larger minority student populations, Owens said in a recent TEDx Talk.

    “Where best to sow the seed to be able to connect our youth to food, to fiber and to fuel and understanding their food system through the science curriculum?” Owens said. “And then, using the school grounds to be able to have learning gardens to connect Black and Brown students to become and to know about the George Washington Carvers, who developed regenerative agriculture systems, or teaching them how to be profitable or to establish careers in food and agriculture.

    “I mean, we all have to eat right?

    Owens works to build a community hoop house

  3. Your support is needed to make the Waterman vision a reality

    Matt Simmons

    As an FFA member at Northridge High School in Johnston, Ohio, Matt Simmons knew he wanted a career in agriculture—specifically, working with its new technology.

    “I’ve always been a ‘machines’ kind of person,” he says. “I realized that working with machinery, working with my hands, and doing something that betters the world—that feeds the world—is what I wanted to do.”

    Today, Simmons is doing that and more as assistant manager of farm operations at Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory, operated by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

    In spring and summer, he and his co-workers plant, till, spray, and harvest. In fall and winter, they clean equipment, select seed, and plan for the coming year. 

    The increasing levels of technology involved, from recordkeeping software to computer-driven seed planters, “just fascinates me,” Simmons says.

    And while Simmons is still relatively new to his job, having started in fall 2019, his history at the facility, and seeing it as a place to grow both literally and figuratively, goes back a few years before that.

    To learn more about Matt's OSU experience, click here. 

    To support the Waterman Facilities Fund, click here. 

  4. What’s next for CFAES: State of the College recap

    Cathann A. Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), delivered the State of the College Address from the new CFAES Wooster Science Building with a YouTube Premiere on Jan. 22.

    To read a summary of her goals for CFAES in 2021 and beyond, click here.  

    To view the full program, click the video below.  

  5. 50 years of giving, an incredible impact

    Giving to CFAES helps sustain student research

    Let’s go back to 1971. Gas prices were around 40 cents per gallon. Walt Disney World opened. The Apollo 14 mission launched. And it was the first year that the Ohio Agriscience Organization and Ohio Turfgrass Foundation donated to the then-College of Agriculture—now the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). These two organizations have continued to give to CFAES over the past 50 years, and as the world has changed, the impact of their giving has not.  

    Donating to CFAES makes an impact on many areas around the college. But one of the biggest impacts can be seen through the 588 scholarships that are awarded to students each year. In the last year, due to the generosity of our community, nearly $3 million was awarded to CFAES students. These funds helped them purchase educational resources, fund research projects, and experience hands-on educational activities like studying abroad and internships.  

     Learn more about the impact of giving  Help support current students 


  6. Have you checked out the Environmental Professionals Network yet?

    The Environmental Professionals Network (EPN)—a service of the CFAES School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR)—connects Ohio’s environmental professionals and others passionate about our natural resources through in-person and online activities. The network hosts monthly breakfast programs and virtual events focused on innovative and pressing environmental topics, such as bipartisan approaches for wildlife conservation, inclusive strategies for land management, and collaborative approaches to solving emerging water pollution issues. EPN aligns inspirational speakers with compelling topics aimed at helping participants build their networks and grow professionally.  

    Through this network, participants also have free access to many online networking capabilities, such as marketing, querying, information sharing, and more. Participants are also encouraged to create and share content such as job postings, reports, and event announcements.  

    In its eight-year history, over 3,000 unique individuals have participated in EPN breakfast programs, and this year, the network surpassed 2,200 online participants.

    Virtual programs are free to the public but require registration. Not available during a program time? No problem! Programs are recorded and shared on EPN’s YouTube Channel.  

    To learn more about EPN and its past and future programs, click here.  

    February's program, A World of Sustainable Pathways, a Focus on Cardinal Health, aired on Feb. 9. The recording of the program is available on the EPN YouTube Channel.

    Below, you will find a program overview: 

    Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, Cardinal Health Inc. is an integrated healthcare services and products company, providing customized solutions for hospitals, health systems, pharmacies, ambulatory surgery centers, clinical laboratories, and physician offices worldwide. Cardinal Health is Essential to Care™ by providing clinically proven medical products and pharmaceuticals and cost-effective solutions that enhance supply chain efficiency from hospital to home. Backed by nearly 100 years of experience, with approximately 50,000 employees in 46 countries, Cardinal Health ranks among the top 25 on the Fortune 500.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cardinal Health’s mission is more important than ever. Through collaboration with industry partners and the U.S federal government, Cardinal Health is manufacturing and distributing critical pandemic response inventory for more than 100,000 medical products in unprecedented demand. 

    Cardinal Health understands that the long-term health of communities, its colleagues, customers, and partners depends on a sustainable world. The strategic function leading Cardinal Health’s global sustainability effort is its Environment, Health, Safety, and Sustainability Team (EHSS). This team provides a unique glimpse into the path of an EHSS professional and the opportunity one has to achieve rewarding sustainability results in support of Cardinal Health’s global operation.

    Join this program to learn about how intergenerational SENR alumni and leaders of Cardinal Health’s EHSS team—Andrew Wehr (’95), Mike Bellantis (’10), and Caleb Thomas (’11)—have influenced the sustainability journey of this Ohio-based Fortune 500 company.

    You will also learn from the leaders of Net Impact, an Ohio State student organization that explores the intersection between business and sustainability. Members will share their sustainability aspirations and provide a student’s perspective on what sustainability should encompass going forward. The corporate world, like many pillars of society, is early in its sustainability journey. Join this EPN virtual event to explore lessons learned from one leading company’s experience in calculating and reducing its global environmental footprint.  

  7. Tuning back into your life: 5 tips for curbing screen time

    Endless scrolling has become a way of life

    Even outside of work, we’re attracted to our phones, laptops, and smart watches so much so that minutes, sometimes hours, can sprint by before we ever look up to discover it’s near midnight.

    We need those screens. For sure. Or at least we think we do. But every notification from our smart phones can trigger cortisol, the stress hormone. Repeated often throughout the day, the added cortisol can overwhelm you.

    It can reduce not only your attention span but also your memory for things like where you parked your car or what you had for lunch yesterday, said Jenny Lobb, an educator with the Franklin County office of Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

    “If you are immersed in a screen and pushing them away when they try to engage, children will learn that’s acceptable—and do that.”—Jenny Lobb

    Video games, texts, and social media posts can also trigger the reward center in our brains, releasing dopamine. No wonder we get addicted.

    Distracted by phones, parents can become less patient and sometimes respond more harshly to their children, sending them away so they can get back to their latest email, text, or Facebook post, said Lobb, who specializes in health and wellness and gives webinars on disconnecting digitally.

    Meanwhile, children notice.

    “They will do what they see you do,” Lobb said. “If you are immersed in a screen and pushing them away when they try to engage, children will learn that’s acceptable—and do that.”

    To read on, click here.

  8. Who in the world is the CFAES Alumni Society Board?

    Brutus Sandiego

    The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Alumni Society Board represents the voice of all alumni of the college. The board serves as a resource for all relations between college alumni and The Ohio State University Alumni Association and has representatives from every academic department, every region of Ohio, from out of state, and from the last three graduating classes. The group meets quarterly in addition to holding events throughout the year.

    Get to know a few of our board members each month.

    John Kellis, Southwest Ohio Representative and Board Vice President 

    John Kellis76 BS Natural Resources Development 

    Q: Tell us a bit about what you do when you're not volunteering with the board.

    A: Since retirement I have worked part-time as a grazing management specialist, developing conservation plans for livestock producers across southern Ohio working for the Ohio Department of Agricuture. I serve as finance chair of the Highland County Historical Society and the Hillsboro Design Review Board. Carolyn and I enjoy gardening and landscaping at our home in Hillsboro, Ohio.

    Q: What is your favorite thing about being on the CFAES Alumni Society Board? 

    A: I have enjoyed getting to know current staff and alumni at the college. After many years of being away from the college, I feel the opportunity to give back and share my years of experiences working with boards of directors and nonprofit organizations with the society and its board of directors here. Go Bucks!

    Andy Vance, Central Ohio Representative 

    Andy Vance’11 BSAGR Agricultural Communications

    Q: Tell us a bit about what you do when you’re not volunteering with the board.

    A: Mostly I’m your average family man and Buckeye sports nut. Away from my “day job” at Farm Progress, I cover Ohio State’s wrestling team for Eleven Warriors and FloWrestling, so I spend a good bit of time following the team and the sport. I recently joined Columbus Rotary to get better connected and involved in supporting our local community since my work life is all pretty much away from central Ohio. In addition to serving on the CFAES Alumni Board, I serve on the Board of Directors for the Friends of Bexley Public Library because libraries are magical places.

    Q: What is your favorite thing about being on the CFAES Alumni Society Board? 

    A: I really love the connection back to the college and university. In my former life as a radio broadcaster, I was almost continuously engaged with some aspect of the Ohio State community, from supporting individual classes or student groups to serving as emcee of Ag Fallfest and the 4-H Celebration of Youth. Now a decade out of my broadcasting career, it feels great to have an active venue to “pay it forward” again!

    To get to know more about the CFAES Alumni Society Board of Directors, and to apply to be a board member using our rolling application, click here.