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YDAE Newsletter

Greetings from Purdue Youth Development and Agricultural Education Department!

Dr. Mark Russell

As we begin communication with the collective alumni of our Department, it is a distinct privilege to be completing my first year as the new Professor and Head of YDAE. First, let me thank Dr. Roger Tormoehlen for his dedication and commitment to our Department. He led the transition from the Indiana State 4-H Department to the thriving interdisciplinary social sciences Department that it is today. Although much has changed, the department motto continues to be "Empower, Educate, and Enhance." The department is committed to empowering the leadership capacity and capability of individuals and groups, educating youth and adults through agricultural and life sciences, and enhancing the quality of life for all people.

This newsletter provides a brief glimpse of the current department. We encourage you to go to our website,, to learn the details and stay electronically connected to your alma mater. You will find many new faces, including Elizabeth Byers, Amy Conrad, Taylor Dunfee, Beth Forbes, Melissa Geiger, Dr. Linda Pfeiffer, Dr. Hui-Hui Wang, and even me, all in 2016! However, much has not changed. Our new mission - "To Educate–Empower–Enhance by building the workforce of today and tomorrow with research-based approaches to science communication and the continuum of education in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources within a multicultural society" - has not really changed. Our mission is central to the College of Agriculture’s ability to facilitate informed decision-making to improve economic and social well-being as we help communities and industry develop solutions to increase economic vitality, build human and social capacity, and contribute to important policy debates.

Empowering, Educating, and Enhancing is accomplished by this interdisciplinary department with undergraduate programs in Agricultural Education and Agricultural Communication and a nationally recognized graduate program focused on learning and communication in the context of agriculture. Faculty and staff are committed to carrying on the full range of discovery, learning, and engagement missions of a major land-grant research university. Please keep in contact with us by subscribing to our electronic newsletter, follow @YDAE_Purdue on Twitter, and "like" us on Facebook), let us know what you think, and nominate someone—or even yourself — for our inaugural YDAE Distinguished Agriculture Alumni award, to be presented this fall. This is an exciting time to be associated with a productive and energized Department that is developing human capacity of all Purdue Agriculture graduates, engagement programs, and discovery efforts that serve all of our stakeholders. Best wishes, Mark Russell, Professor and Head

Dr. Mark Russell began his career with animal science degrees from Cornell University (BS) and the University of Illinois (MS and PhD). After serving as the Horse Extension Specialist at Illinois and Purdue, he taught 18 different animal sciences courses and expanded the curriculum, helping teams of students apply their technical knowledge to real-world problems and communicate possible solutions in ways that serve the needs of people. In the last 20 years he is most known for his focus on Extension methods, leadership development and intercultural effectiveness outcomes through service learning and travel courses. His students have learned informal educational engagement strategies in many international work settings, including Ecuador, Haiti, Peru, and Romania. He is passionate about students, staff, and faculty discovering a worldview of cultures beyond their comfort zone.

Distinguished Alumni

The Distinguished Agriculture Alumni award recognizes Purdue Agriculture alumni who have achieved outstanding accomplishments, made significant contributions to their professions or to society in general, and exhibit high potential for future professional growth.

Dr. Dexter Wakefield (M.S. 1988, Ph.D. 2001) was selected as a 2016 DAA. He is an assistant professor of agricultural education and mechanics at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.

Read more about Dr. Dexter Wakefield

Nominate an Alumni