A former New Lexington woman has been named a recipient of the North American Colleges of Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Graduate Student Teaching Award, and proudly admits she is appreciative for the experiences growing up in a small town in Perry County. Kelly is a doctoral student in the Ohio State University Department of Agricultural Communication, Education and Leadership (ACEL).

Kelly has instructed Community Leadership 4430, a course focused on principles and strategies involved in leading teams and community organizations. She also serves as Director of Education Abroad for the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), where in addition to coordinating and leading education abroad programs around the world, she instructs the CFAES Global Option Capstone course for students wishing to graduate with recognition of global focus in their curriculum.

“Kelly’s recognition by NACTA is a clear indicator of her impact on the students of our department and the college. For those who work with her, we know first-hand that her passion for student development and learning is something she lives day in and day out,” said Dr. Tracy Kitchel, professor and chair of ACEL. “We were excited the awards committee decided to honor her in this meaningful way.” The award, which Kelly will receive in June, recognizes graduate students who excel as teachers in the agricultural disciplines and will be presented at the NACTA annual Conference in Ames, Iowa.

“As a non-traditional graduate student, I’m humbled and excited to have received this recognition for my work in teaching,” said Kelly. “NACTA’s mission of furthering teaching in Colleges of agriculture and related sciences is very close to my heart and this recognition means a great deal to me. I have grown quite a bit through teaching and I relish the opportunity to work with students.”

Kelly’s work as the CFAES Director of Education Abroad has taken her to all seven continents with students. Her most memorable experience was camping in the snow in Antarctica and having to maneuver carefully around sleeping penguins, which was daylight due to the time of year. Kelly’s most fond memories are from her own study abroad experience in Prague, Czech Republic in 1995. “I often tell my students that the choice between the Perry County Fair and Prague was a tough one to make. I loved the fair! But, I never regretted the decision because it was the first step to my current career.”

“My most recent experience abroad was with 21 students in Costa Rica,” said Kelly adding, “One of my faculty leaders got influenza at the last minute and I had to be on a plane 36 hours after finding out. I live for those types of adventures, but they do cause a bit of stress. Watching students learn and grow always makes it worth it.” Newlon’s final continent was Africa with a site visit to a rural village in Tanzania this past August where her students carry out service learning projects each summer.

Kelly credits growing up in Perry County with leadership opportunities such as FFA and 4-H with the skills she needs to be successful abroad and in the classroom. “My experiences growing up in a small town, especially in Perry County, gave me the opportunity to get to know people well and take advantage of leadership opportunities that a larger community may not have afforded me. I also learned a great deal of practical skills through my 4-H projects, serving as a camp counselor and raising livestock that apply directly to the programs that I lead. I often think about how I can give back and maybe even get back to my home community,” she concluded with a smile. She is the daughter of Dick and Karen Newlon of New Lexington, and has three sisters; Kristin, Kim, and Katie.

Students in the agricultural and extension education graduate program at Ohio State may specialize in agricultural communication, agricultural education, community and extension education, international development or leadership. The agricultural and extension education graduate program offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science, Master of Education, and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degrees. The Doctor of Philosophy degree prepares students for careers as administrators, specialists, university faculty, and researchers.

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