Olivia K. Pflaumer
Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership
The COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to innovate in order to continue making an impact in and outside of the classroom. During the summer of 2020, Olivia Pflaumer felt fortunate to still be able to participate in an internship experience at the Stratford Ecological Center, an ecological farm and state nature preserve in Delaware, Ohio. It was her second summer working at Stratford, where she focused on developing a Beginner Farmer program. Though the center remained closed to the public during that time, Olivia worked on programming that would provide in-person opportunities for gaining hands-on skills and experiences in various agricultural pursuits and made adaptations to create virtual opportunities. The flexibility and new technological skills that were pertinent to the task also served to help Olivia in the virtual classroom when she returned to school.
Olivia selected Dr. Caryn Filson as her mentor, saying, “Dr. Filson has provided her mentorship to me as an advisor to [the] Agricultural Education Society, [a] teacher in the classroom, my academic advisor, and someone to turn to with questions. Dr. Filson has made an influential impact on my college career at Ohio State by providing the opportunity for me to figure out what it means to be an agricultural educator, and providing guidance in times of need.”
After joining the Agricultural Education Society (AES) during her first year, an opportunity to participate in a Buck-I-SERV was presented. Olivia was reluctant at first, as she was not sure what to expect, but she now looks back on it as one of her favorite experiences during college. Buck-I-SERV provides alternative break opportunities for students to engage in meaningful and sustainable community service. Through AES, she was able to visit Dallas, Texas, and work with Our Community Pantry, which served a wide area in Dallas. Rekindling her passion for community service from high school, she also participated in the Pinellas County Sea Grant Buck-I-SERV the following year, assisting in a variety of environmentally-focused community service projects.
All of these opportunities prepared her for a future as an agriscience educator, where she hopes to instill community service opportunities within a future FFA program.
Through her STEP Project, Olivia was able to participate in a week-long sustainable agriculture workshop at Wyatt Run Farm, a program specifically for STEP students interested in the topic. Olivia looks back on this experience as one of her most enjoyable memories for many reasons, including the bonds formed between students and teachers, the encouragement and opportunity to think about the world around them in new ways, and for its lessons in just how valuable Southern Ohio can be. As a result of these encounters, Olivia often reflects on the kindness and resourcefulness of the people she met.
After graduation, Olivia hopes to work as an agricultural educator in a high school. After several years, she plans to attain a master’s degree.
Service, involvement, and accolades: Agricultural Education Society, president, reporter | Ohio State Rock Climbing | USAC National Qualifier, outdoor chair | CFAES Ambassador, co-chair | Buck-I-SERV participant | Semester of Service with NNEMAP Food Pantry