Penta Ag Science Programs Prepare AW Grads For Careers

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — From food and water safety to animal health and farming technology, agriculture is a part of our everyday lives.

With a robust agriculture program offered by Penta Career Center at Anthony Wayne High School, many AW graduates have gone on to pursue careers in ag-related fields.

This week’s profiles are part of an ongoing Mirror series that looks at AW grads and their careers.

Jill Dentel, a 2008 graduate, is the owner of Countryside Animal Clinic in Wauseon, where she cares for not only cats and dogs but also goats, horses and cattle.

It’s a job that requires dedication, a love of science, great communication skills and a passion for helping people and animals, she said.

“It isn’t just about loving animals. It’s about being able to communicate with people well and think outside of the box a lot since our patients cannot talk to us. I have to work hard. My job isn’t a 9-to-5 job, it’s a passion and a lifestyle,” Dentel said.

Growing up, Dentel showed horses and rode in the intercollegiate dressage team during the four years she was earning her degree in biology and animal science at University of Findlay. Following graduation, she was accepted into OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where she was involved in the Ohio Veterinary Medical Assoc-iation and American Animal Hospital Assoc-iation’s national student board.

In 2020, Dentel achieved her goal of owning her own practice by purchasing Countryside Animal Clinic. 

Lucas Froelich, a 2014 graduate, works for the Ohio Environmental Pro-tection Agency (EPA) in the Division of Drinking and Ground Waters. 

“My job is to inspect and verify water systems are in compliance with our rules and to review water system engineering plans,” he said. “I also help with compliance with the lead and copper rule.”

The job requires a desire to continually learn and serve the public. 

“There is always something new to do or learn and never a dull day,” he said. “Drinking water will always need people to work and keep delivering safe and clean water.”

While in high school, Froelich helped in the greenhouse, growing lettuce hydroponically.

“My first ag class helped get me into doing something environmentally – which led me to ecological engineering at The Ohio State University.”

D.J. Gase, a 2013 graduate, teaches robotics, CAD, machining and welding in Penta Career Center’s Manufacturing Academy. It’s a job that requires an interest and ability to learn new technology. The career also requires a love of hands-on work, he said.

After graduation, Gase earned a degree in agriculture education from The Ohio State University and taught agriculture in Cleveland for a year before joining Penta Career Center.

Angus Kerr, a 2016 graduate, is a maintenance aide for Metroparks Toledo, where he cleans up trash, trims branches and performs other duties to keep the park clean for visitors. 

The job requires an eye for seeing what is clean outdoors and an ability to work with equipment and be prepared for all sorts of weather with warm clothing and good gloves.

While at AWHS, Kerr got involved in FFA and earned his state degree with a birdfeeder project. Ag science teacher and FFA advisor Whitney Short was a tremendous help to Angus, said his mom, Karen. Short treated Angus with respect and helped him make the most of his abilities. Following AWHS, Angus enrolled in Project Search job search training through Penta.

“The program I graduated from at Penta after graduating from Anthony Wayne helped me to get my dream job,” Angus said. “I am able to work with people with similar interests to mine that are very supportive.”

Hanna Lemle, a 2006 graduate, is a livestock quality coordinator for Food Safety Net Services Certification & Audit (FSNS C&A), which provides third-party auditing services for the food and livestock industries.

“We’re the ones that conduct the audits often required by major retail, fast food and restaurant chains to ensure their suppliers produce wholesome food in accordance with USDA and FDA regulations – insurance, in a way,” Lemle said. “Our livestock division primarily focuses on performing dairy farm and feedlot audits. We are currently the partner of choice performing audits for the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) FARM Program.”

In addition to routine audits, the company also contracts with partners to perform crisis management in the event of allegations of abuse or neglect on dairies, ranches and feedlots. 

As a livestock quality coordinator, Lemle handles back-office work, including negotiating service agreements, scheduling, reviewing audit reports, training new staff and managing certification audits for the food safety side of the business. It’s a job that requires effective communication and an ability to keep information confidential during investigations and allegations of abuse on feedlots and dairy farms.

“Understanding production systems and having firsthand experience is key,” she said. “Being able to combine logic and practicality with science and customer demands is a must.”

Lemle credits her high school coursework in agricultural science for helping her define her goals and see career options. She was heavily involved with FFA and being on the Meats Judging Team was influential. 

“I had always known I wanted to attend The Ohio State University to major in animal sciences, but the teachers I had at AWHS turned that want into a reality,” she said. 

After graduation, Lemle spent several years in food safety roles in the meat industry before working for FSNS C&A as an animal welfare and food safety auditor. She left for a while and returned in 2020 to help grow and develop the livestock services.

“Yes – auditing is a career,” she said. “And every audit team needs someone in the back office to keep the folks out in the field motivated and busy. I had no clue in high school that there was such a thing as certification bodies or third-party auditors.”

Will Lemle, a 2014 graduate, is an assistant manager for the Menards hardware department, which includes not only nails, bolts, hammers and power tools, but also automotive accessories and seasonal and nonseasonal products such as grills, patio furniture, fire pits and indoor furniture. 

The job requires leadership, customer service and decision-making skills in addition to excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and an ability to prioritize tasks and solve problems, he said.

“Menards is a great company to work for. It has a great working environment and great people to work with,” he said. “If you are passionate about sales, home improvement and (you are) an outgoing individual, then Menards is a great fit. Menards will help you grow in your career and help make you a better leader.”

While in high school, Lemle took an agribusiness class in which he had to make a product to sell. 

“I enjoyed it and realized that’s what I wanted to do with my life: Go into a career in sales,” he said.

After graduation, Lemle earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and professional sales with a minor in business management from The University of Toledo. He previously worked for The Andersons in the Outside Nursery department.

“I have a passion for sales,” he said. “I enjoy selling products to people and helping others find what they need for their projects.”

Dustin Moosman, a 2012 graduate, is an order fulfillment process assembly manufacturing engineer for John Deere Company.

In this role, Moosman develops and implements improvement projects for tractor transmissions, provides support and troubleshooting for current operations and leads the analysis, development and implementation of new manufacturing processes and technology. 

AWHS agriscience, agribusiness, leadership, small engines, sales, ag technology and mechanical systems classes all fueled his interest in an agricultural career. He also learned about general livestock evaluation, nursery and landscaping and the general employment skills needed.

After graduation, Moosman earned his associate degree in John Deere technology and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology from The University of Toledo. He earned his state and American FFA degrees in 2013. 

Louis Pawliski, a 2017 graduate, is the owner of a company, the producer of a podcast and a college student.

Krusty Lures was an FFA project that Pawliski started in 2016, after Maumee Bait and Tackle owner Mario Campos challenged him to make a better lure. Now, the Maumee shop is one of several that request his specialty lures to sell to customers. Krusty Kast is a podcast on Apple and Spotify, in which Pawliski interviews local anglers.

“This takes an active mind,” he said of running a business and organizing podcasts. “It helps when starting multiple projects as well as thinking into the future. There is not an instruction manual for doing this. You will need to be eager in learning and need do a lot of your own research.”

Pawliski said he’s not sure if he would have started his own business without a push from FFA, which required him to make money in his chosen project. That’s what launched his side gigs.

In addition to the businesses, Pawliski is majoring in investment and entrepreneurship at The University of Toledo. In his spare time, he enjoys … fishing.

Cody Perry, a 2015 graduate, founded Cody Perry Enterprises, a lawn care management business, in 2020. 

The business provides lawnmowing, weeding and sidewalk edging through the growing season. In the spring and fall, Perry provides cleanups – blowing out flower beds, collecting leaves and hauling them away.

Important skills on the job include communication and organization, as well as a strong work ethic and leadership abilities. While working in the lawn care business can be challenging, because of working long hours and fixing broken equipment, the career has its rewards, he said.

“Starting my own business was one of the best decisions I ever made,” he said. “Working for myself is definitely a pro, and the fact that I love doing what I’m doing makes it all worthwhile. Being outside and not in an office, setting my own pace and hours, and getting to meet all kinds of people makes it even better.”

Megan Perry, a 2016 graduate, owns and operates Superior Stock Therapy, a livestock and small-animal therapy business.

“It is electromagnetic therapy that helps reduce inflammation by increasing blood flow to flush out any toxins or negative cells in the body, which results in many benefits,” she explained.

Starting and running such a unique business requires a slew of skills: a background in the livestock industry to understand how different muscles, tissues and genetics work; an ability to communicate with customers; and time management skills to make the most out of every day.

“When I am not traveling all over the United States, I am at home working on the family farm. I am a seventh-generation grain farmer and the only woman in my family to obtain a four-year college degree,” she said. 

Being a farmer has its own set of skills: being a weather forecaster, mechanic, manager, accountant, truck driver and veterinarian takes hard work, patience and dedication, she said.

“We are growing a product to feed the world and it is our way of life,” Perry said.

Being born and raised on a farm gave her an understanding of a job that is 24/7 – not just the time when the public sees a farmer in the field. Often, farmers are fixing equipment or doing maintenance, keeping records, researching the best crop options and educating the public. 

While in high school, Perry took every ag class possible and was involved in the FFA’s Career Develop-ment Events (CDEs), which consisted of a job interview, parliamentary procedure, and livestock and meat judging, to name a few. This helped prepare her for putting together a professional resume and interviewing.

“The job interview prepared me to put together a professional resume and how to define my strengths and weaknesses in an interview. Parliamentary procedure allows me to run a meeting at a business standpoint. Lastly, livestock judging has helped with the career that I am with now because I can choose the best possible breeding genetics to grow livestock to the best of their ability to create a safe product for people to consume.”

After graduation, Perry earned her bachelor’s degree in animal sciences with a minor in agricultural business from The Ohio State University.     

“I love being involved in the agricultural industry, we are feeding the world day by day, and this industry is an industry worth always fighting for!”

Kelly Rice, a 2017 graduate, is a field engagement specialist for Bayer Crop Science and a grain inspector for The Andersons.

“With these jobs, you need to have a good relationship with clients and be able to assist and help make improvements and fix issues,” she said.

With Bayer, she scouts fields for crop damage and works on test pilot projects to prevent weed resistance. She collaborates with numerous farmers in the area to collect weed seeds to be tested. In the grain inspection division of The Andersons, she tests grain to make sure it’s of the best quality to be bought and sold.

While at AWHS she was involved in FFA, which gave her the background and access to individuals who have helped her along the way. After graduation, Rice earned a degree in agronomy from Wilmington College and became a certified crop advisor. 

“Don’t be afraid to pick an uncommon job, and for females, don’t be afraid to grow and succeed in a male-dominated field.”

Ashton (Smith) Cash is the corporate HR business partner and talent management senior manager for The Andersons Inc. – one of the area’s largest agricultural businesses.

“We have multiple business units, including trade, ethanol, plant nutrient and rail, and I have been lucky enough to support and be imbedded in two of those businesses before moving back into the corporate HR area,” she said.

Her primary job is to partner with business leaders and frontline managers to build their people-capability, plan and manage talent, mitigate risk and develop approaches that achieve organizational objectives. In other words – she hires many of those seeking careers in the agriculture industry.

“I also get to work with individual contributors and be an advocate for change and innovation,” she said. “I love what I do and the people I work with every day. Work is truly a blessing and am grateful to be able to provide value and make an impact daily.”

The job requires someone who is a multitasker, a problem solver and critical thinker yet also a people person who is approachable and positive.

While in high school, Cash was involved in softball, volleyball, choir and musicals while also working – something that made her well-rounded, she said.

Working in HR, it’s important to give the same respect and attention at every level of the organization, she said. This develops trust with employees, who she often helps in solving problems or making career track choices.

“I am happy to speak with anyone that is thinking about going into the HR field or those looking for a job in the agricultural industry,” she said.

Andrew Teet, a 2013 graduate, is the cattle business manager for Pettisville Grain Company.

In this role, his main job is to develop, coordinate and implement the nutrition strategy, health program, and the purchasing and selling plans of the company-owned cattle. 

“I also provide advice to feed customers on nutrition for their livestock and poultry,” he said.

The job requires an ability to be adaptive, communicative and resourceful, he said.

While in high school, Teet took a leadership course his junior year.

“That helped me to keep improving myself personally and professionally,” he said.

He also learned from the Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE) portion of the program’s curriculum. For his SAE, Teet raised poultry, swine and meat goats.

“Those experiences fueled my interest in livestock and animal science,” he said.

Abbey VanTyne, a 2012 graduate, is a high school agriscience educator at Norwayne High School in Creston, Ohio, where she is in her sixth year of teaching.

“I love my job! Teaching my students every day brings pure joy to my life and I wouldn’t change my current gig for any other profession,” she said. “Not only am I an agriscience educator, but I am also an advisor, counselor, event planner, curriculum coordinator, coach, mentor … you name it! My students expect me to be there for them whenever they need me, and I sincerely try my best to do that for them.”

Time management and organizational skills are crucial on the job as well, she said.

While at AWHS, Van-Tyne took agriscience classes, including agribusiness, leadership and vet tech – and was involved with FFA, serving as chapter officer for her junior and senior years. 

Before entering the ag science program, VanTyne thought she would want to become an orthodontist, but during a conversation with Short, she realized she wanted to become an ag science teacher.

“I loved the program and the students in it and wanted to make an impact on students of my own just as Mrs. Short had made on me,” she said.

Brad Vogtsberger, a 2010 graduate, is a performance upgrade specialist, helping John Deere dealers and farmers in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee understand how to integrate the newest John Deere technology onto older equipment with aims of making them more efficient and profitable.

“My jobs over the years have taken me to 22 states in the U.S., Canada and Brazil. I do enjoy traveling and seeing how farming is different everywhere you go,” he said of his six years with John Deere.

Growing up, Vogtsberger was involved in his family’s grain farm in east Toledo, raising wheat, corn and soybeans. He did odd jobs on the farm and drove equipment during the busy seasons. While in high school, Vogtsberger took a small-engines class and was an honorary member of FFA. This led him to competing in the state FFA Agricultural Engineering competition, placing fifth as a team. It also prompted his interest in earning a degree in agricultural engineering from The Ohio State University. 

While in his senior year at OSU, Vogtsberger did a summer internship with John Deere and was hired full time after graduation in 2015. 

“I feel very fortunate that John Deere does recruiting at Ohio State, which is what lead me down my career path,” he said.

Perseverance, problem-solving, emotional intelligence and a willingness to learn are the qualities necessary for his career – in which he does a lot of listening and problem solving. While he started out his career as an engineer, Vogtsberger found his passion is in working more closely with farmers to make a positive difference.

“Pursue what you are passionate about – and it’s OK if that changes as you experience more things in life,” he said. 

As an auctioneer and realtor for Whalen Realty & Auction, 1994 graduate Jason Whalen said his job requires an in-depth knowledge of the agriculture industry.

“Agriculture touches on every industry,” he said. “It’s the biggest business – the hot dogs and buns you eat, the cotton in your clothes and the soybean oils in ethanol.”

Whalen grew up learning about the auction business from his uncle John Whalen, a 1963 AW graduate. The business has grown to be industry leaders, especially in the agricultural field, he said. 

“We host everything from farmer retirement machinery auctions to selling 10,000  acres throughout Northwest Ohio since 2012,” Whalen said.

While in high school, Whalen found his niche taking ag science classes and joining FFA, where he pursued his interest in ag mechanics and soil judging. He learned soil types, soil quality and productivity – information he still uses today.

“There are thousands of soil types ,and this determines the value of the farmland,” he said.

After high school, Whalen headed to auctioneer school and then took real estate classes at Stautzenberger College.

As part of a series following the careers of AW graduates, The Mirror will be featuring those in education, the military, STEM careers and architecture in the coming months.

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