Agricultural education professor receives Excellence in Academic Advising Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Daniel Foster, assistant professor of agricultural and extension education in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, is the recipient of the college's 2016 Excellence in Academic Advising Award.

Sponsored by the College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Society, the award recognizes faculty members and staff for overall effectiveness in student advising, personal counseling, and individual student goal-setting and career planning. Candidates are recommended by faculty, students, administrators and alumni.

Foster has advised an average of 35 undergraduate students majoring in Agricultural and Extension Education and an average of 10 graduate students on an annual basis since his appointment in 2009. He also provides leadership to the agricultural teacher certification program as student-teacher coordinator. He provides academic assistance to many more students seeking to transition from other Penn State campuses to University Park to complete their teacher certification.

In addition, he has taught 12 undergraduate courses, participated in numerous recruitment and outreach activities, and disseminates his research on global competency and school-based agricultural education in multiple outlets.

Foster received doctoral and master's degrees in agricultural and extension education from Ohio State University, and a bachelor's degree in agricultural education and agricultural technology management from the University of Arizona.

Foster's commitment to his students is second to none, noted Ann Tickamyer, professor and head of the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education. He serves as a mentor to many students who come back to him even after graduation to get advice.

"Dr. Foster is not only extremely proficient in guiding students through course planning and academic requirements, but he enthusiastically provides opportunities for students to explore beyond the normal classroom experience to make them successful, no matter what career path they choose."

Foster was recommended for the award by a long list of current agriscience teachers he advised during their time at Penn State. They describe his passion and enthusiasm for agricultural education on a global scale, his demand for excellence from his advisees, his tireless efforts to guide them toward expanded opportunities in their field during and after their college years, the wise advice he dispenses regarding career choices, and his dynamic dedication to making students he advises successful.

"Daniel Foster has had more of an impact on my life than I can squeeze into a letter — he transformed me from a reckless 20-year-old into a passionate educator," said Tyler Creamons, who teaches at Nonnewaug High School in Connecticut.

"It is only because of Dr. Foster's commitment to students he advises that I have been presented with the opportunities as an emerging professional," said Janae Bickhart, a teacher at Broadway High School in Virginia. "It is evident that he sees serving as an academic adviser as more than a job, but rather a commitment to creating the best, most rewarding experience for his advisees."

When it comes to goal setting and career planning, Foster's energy and motivation to serve students and advisees is constantly evident, according to Allison Hoover, who now works at Ripon Christian School in California. "I can honestly claim that, without his superb and holistic advising during my college career, I would be lacking in several of the most beneficial experiences, achievements and recognitions of my Penn State and post-graduation experience."

Foster's commitment to lifelong learning is evidenced by his dedication to the undergraduate and graduate students at the university level and his methodologies in teacher education, explained Mackenzie Appleman, an agriscience teacher in Bloomsburg. "He places the highest priority on student success and makes countless personal sacrifices to ensure that his students achieve their potential."

The priority that Foster places upon advising is obvious to his peers, as well. "He makes it a priority to get to know each one of his advisees and spends countless hours with them," said John Ewing, associate professor of agricultural and extension education. "In both formal and informal conversations, he helps them to better understand many opportunities available through the University."

Perhaps current advisee Janae Herr — who pointed out that Foster makes himself available to his students at any time — best summed up the wide admiration for his advising style: "He is intentional about holding his students to a high standard and pushing us to be the best version of ourselves," said the Agricultural and Extension Education major. "I count myself as privileged to be one of his students."

Foster also is active on social media, sharing about teaching and learning in agriculture as well as connecting with current and future students. You can follow the Penn State Agricultural and Extension Education program (@TeachAgPSU) and Foster (@FosterDanielD) on Twitter.

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Last Updated May 09, 2016