The Nominating Committee is pleased to present its slate of candidates for this year's election to the NACTA Officers. In accordance with our bylaws, these are being posted to our website in alphabetical order.
Although selection by the Nominating Committee is our formal system for identifying appropriate candidates, any NACTA member in good standing may petition to have his/her name added to this ballot by the mechanism described in our bylaws.
Members of NACTA are asked to review the candidates' qualifications listed below, and to thoughtfully consider the course each would take to achieve our Goals as discussed in their Personal Statement. On March 17, 2020 the electronic ballot will be activated and voting instructions will be provided at that time.
Also note, this page presents the qualifications and personal statement of each candidate only as submitted by the candidate. This is NOT the actual ballot.
Nick Furhman, University of Georgia
Professor Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication
Dr. Nick Fuhrman is Professor of Environmental Education in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication at the University of Georgia. He holds appointments in teaching, Extension, and administration as he works closely with faculty on mentoring, promotion and tenure, and professional development. Also known as “Ranger Nick,” he teaches graduate courses in educational program development and data analysis and undergraduate courses in environmental education and teaching methods. His life’s passion is teaching and he often uses live animals (such as snakes, turtles, alligators, and owls) in the classroom and on his monthly national television series, “Ranger Nick” where he teaches viewers about various agricultural and natural resource topics in an edu-taining way.
Previous Contributions to NACTA
Nick has been involved with NACTA for over 15 years, serving as Chair of the Teacher Recognition Committee for four years and is currently the NACTA Southern Regional Director. He has presented research on teaching best-practices at 14 of the past 15 NACTA conferences (missing the meeting in Idaho for the birth of their second child) and has published numerous articles in the NACTA Journal.
How NACTA would benefit from Nick’s Leadership
As a nominee for NACTA President, Nick would be humbled to provide leadership to an organization which aligns with his personal and professional values in teaching. NACTA is a family and Nick’s vision for NACTA includes strengthening the organization’s interdisciplinary nature to include a greater emphasis on natural resource disciplines. With a background in natural resource management, Nick knows the relevance of NACTA for faculty and graduate students in departments of forestry, fisheries, wildlife, and the human dimensions of resource management, including environmental education. As President, Nick would enjoy putting an even brighter spotlight on graduate student involvement in NACTA (his involvement began as a graduate student himself in 2004) and he envisions involving undergraduate students in presenting research at our annual conferences. Our past presidents have certainly created large shoes to fill and he would be flattered to work to continue the efforts of those who have provided leadership before him.
Susie Whittington, Ohio State University
Professor and Director, Second-year Transformational Experience Program
Membership in Nacta: Member since 1992; Life Member since 1996
- Eastern Region Director, North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, 2007-2010
- Member, Committee for the Improvement of Teaching, North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, 1997-1999
- Program Co-chair, 2005 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Annual Conference Planning Committee
- Interim Chair, International Committee, North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, 2007-2008
- Member, Journal Review Board, 2012-2017
How NACTA would benefit from Susie’s leadership
NACTA members will benefit from my leadership by trusting that I have their best interest in mind related to professional development for teaching and learning. For almost three decades, my membership in NACTA has served as a highlight for my professional development. It is important for me that NACTA continue to provide quality professional development for North America’s teachers of agriculture across all disciplines. In addition, it is important that the NACTA journal continue to serve as a premier publication for disseminating the art and science of teaching.
After becoming a NACTA member in 1992, I paid my Life Membership dues just four years later in 1996 because I knew I was committed to the objectives of the organization and would easily be a member across my career. I also knew immediately in 1992 that I enjoyed the members of NACTA and valued our shared conversations about teaching. Current members, therefore, will benefit from my history with and commitment to my professional involvement with our members.
Finally, the uniqueness of NACTA to provide a forum for presenting both the art and science of teaching is an aspect of the organization that members can count on me to continue to promote. It is a good thing when professionals, who are committed to teaching, can come together to study research practices and practical applications of teaching domestically and globally.
Gary Wingenbach, Texas A&M
Professor and Senior Scientist
Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications
Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture
- Member: NACTA, 2000-present
- Reviewer: NACTA Journal, 2005-present
- Reviewer: NACTA Annual Research Conference, 2009-present
- Member: NACTA International Committee, 2015-present
- Member: NACTA Journal Article Awards Committee, 2019
How NACTA would benefit from Gary’s leadership
My leadership will promote NACTA’s mission in domestic and international settings. First, NACTA is listed more than 70 times in my vitae. I owe NACTA much and can give back through more active leadership. I helped Dr. Parker transform the NACTA Journal to an online peer review process more than 13 years ago. The Journal’s process led to an online review process for conference submissions. Since 2005, I helped Rick raise the quality of research presented at conference and published in the Journal. My long-term Journal and conference experience include much institutional history, such as a wealth of SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) knowledge, the bedrock of NACTA. Second, I co-lead efforts to host the NACTA 2022 Annual Conference at Texas A&M University. Our plan is to include all Texas A&M University System schools in our bid, thereby increasing NACTA’s reach, membership, and recognition throughout the nation’s largest land-grant university system. Third, I co-lead efforts to initiate a NACTA Global Engagement (GE) Fellows Program (an International Committee proposal still in development) to recognize and promote NACTA members’ international SoTL efforts within their U.S. colleges of agriculture. The NACTA International Committee believes the GE Fellows Program adds international recognition, credibility, and status to one’s professional record, which are important factors in tenure and promotion processes. We can help NACTA members’ leverage their SoTL contributions more effectively through the GE Fellows Program. For these reasons, I seek to serve NACTA as President-elect, and gladly will serve NACTA for many years.
Canadian Region Director-Elect Candidates
James Benkie, Olds College, Canada
Dean Werklund School of Agriculture Technology
James Benkie is currently the Dean of the newly created Werklund School of Agriculture Technology at Olds College. Before joining the Olds College Team in 2018, James spent 3 years in the technology sector with global tech company Fujitsu as well as 8 years with Agriculture Financial Services Corporation where he led, developed, and supported several different business areas. James loves being actively engaged in the industry of Agriculture and has enjoyed his tenure thus far at Olds College.
Olds College first became a member of NACTA in early spring 2019. Based on this, neither Olds College nor I had contributed to the NACTA organization. We attended our first NACTA annual conference in Idaho, 2019 and thoroughly enjoyed our time. We also participated in the NACTA regional meeting at the University of Alberta in the early spring 2019 hosted by Dr. Frank Robinson, Dr. Heather Bruce, and Dr. Martin Zuidoff. At this regional meeting, Olds College had 6 faculty present on teaching and learning experiences at Olds College. Olds College, being one of Alberta’s oldest agricultural colleges, will contribute to the NACTA organization over the coming years in applied research and teaching and learning scholarship that support the growth and enhancement of students in Ag programs.
How NACTA would benefit from James’s leadership
James is an experienced business leader with a demonstrated and measurable history of working in the Information Technology and Agriculture industries. He is highly skilled in negotiation, thought leadership, budgeting, business planning, coaching, and networking. James also has a strong business development background with the ability to create vision and strategy to achieve relevant outcomes in agriculture. With the background in both private and public sector organizations, James will bring an interesting perspective to the NACTA Organization. Along with his strong connection to industry, the journey Olds College is embarking on may indeed be a benefit to NACTA as we will have many successes and failures to share.While James is pursuing his career at Olds College, he also partners and manages the family farm in central Alberta. A calculated risk-taker with strong agronomic and primary agriculture knowledge, James thrives in challenging business situations which have helped him become an effective decision maker.Throughout his 20+ year tenure in primary agriculture, James has built a reputation that the agricultural sector can depend upon for delivering consistent and excellent client service and experience.
Central Region Director-Elect Candidates
Chad Miller, Kansas State University
Horticulture and Natural Resources Department
- Member; 2011-current
- Award Recognition Committee Member, 2014-current
- Editorial Board Member, 2016-current
- Journal Awards Committee, Chair, 2018-current
How NACTA would benefit from Chad’s leadership
NACTA has been instrumental in my professional development and will continue to be. It would be a pleasure and an honor to serve the NACTA organization as the Central Region Director. As director, I would work diligently to carry out the office expectations outlined by the NACTA Constitution. The future and strength of NACTA and similar organizations is dependent on welcoming, including, and engaging of future and new academics. NACTA does a good job with welcoming and including new members, especially at the annual conference. Undoubtedly, many members at their respective NACTA institutions are already doing great work on these endeavors. As director, I would work to increase the activities for involving new members. One area of opportunity that I think has potential to explore and for growth is to encourage and increase graduate student participation in (regional) NACTA institutions, perhaps facilitated through NACTA Campus Ambassadors. I would work to identify and increase additional activities; in particular, online/virtual opportunities or activities to further engage members of NACTA, not only within institutions, but also opportunities between Central Region institutions. The potential exists to explore having a regional member session at the annual conference, to further connect and introduce members, with the goal of further developing and strengthening collaborative teaching and research efforts. I would work to be creative and work with other NACTA members as to how we can best use our regional connections to further the NACTA mission. Again, it would be a pleasure to serve NACTA as the Central Region Director.
Cheryl Wachenheim, North Dakota State University
Professor of Agribusiness and Applied Economics
I have been a joyful NACTA member for twenty-five years. I am currently serving my first term as the North Central Region Director and loving it! NACTA has given me the opportunity to serve in a variety of supporting roles. For the past two decades, I have served as a member of the Editorial Review Board and as an annual meeting abstract reviewer. Other roles in which I have had the opportunity to serve and learn include membership in the Award Recognition Committee and the Journal Awards Committee. I have attended approximately a dozen annual meetings and look forward to attending many others!
How NACTA would benefit from Cheryl's leadership
NACTA is an effective organization comprised of amazing people. Our mission is to advance and encourage our members to develop, including providing a forum for discussion and encouraging and rewarding instructional excellence. I have witnessed NACTA, under dedicated leaders, grow as an organization with a focus on growing its individual members. My leadership philosophy is also based on this idea; that people make the organization. I love bearing witness to the work of individual members for the good of their peers and of our profession and am proud of the fact our members do so on their own volition and with true altruism. My leadership strategy as the North Central Region Director is first to facilitate and celebrate the good work of our members through recognition and ensuring their path is wide open and clearly marked. Second, I do my best to ensure we have friends to share with along the way through continued efforts to grow our membership and making sure all members feel welcome and understand their value to the organization. Finally, I strive to serve as an open conduit between district members and the leadership team and to know both. I want each of you to know you are important and to help you find a means to be involved to the extent and in the manner that best suits your needs; I hope to be your NACTA cheerleader. I love this organization and its people. I very much appreciate the consideration. Have a great day!
Judging Conference Director-Elect Candidates
Brad Ramsdale, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture
Division Chair and Associate Professor of Agronomy
Dr. Brad Ramsdale is an Associate Professor of Agronomy for the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) at Curtis, NE and Division Chair of Agronomy - Ag Mechanics programs. He teaches all agronomy related courses; coordinates agronomy and ag-mechanics related programs; and provides leadership for many college-wide committees. Dr. Ramsdale has coached the crops team that has competed at NACTA competitions since 2010; winning the 2-year division crops contest in 2016, 2017, and 2018. His leadership has led to college-wide participation in NACTA competitions and runner-up placings in the 2-year division Sweepstakes Awards in 2017 and 2018. Brad currently serves as the NACTA Judging Conference Secretary and received the 2019 NACTA Judging and Student Service Award. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agronomy from Kansas State University and a Ph.D. in Plant Science from North Dakota State University with an emphasis in weed science. Originally from a small farm in Kansas, Brad spends much of his spare time working with the children and youth at his church.