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Meet the Grads: Hannah Schantz

Hannah SchantzHannah Schantz, an agricultural and extension education major, is the 2019 Outstanding Senior for the School of Design and Community Development.

To create a well-rounded college experience, the Fallston, Maryland, native took advantage of several teaching, research and service opportunities.

“One of the most meaningful experiences I had while at WVU was serving as a teaching assistant for agricultural communications under Dr. Stacy Gartin,” she said. “This class allowed me to work with students from a variety of majors both inside and outside of the Davis College in developing skills in public speaking, publications, and job preparation.”

She also conducted research on energy literacy in West Virginia agricultural education students under the guidance of Jessica Blythe, assistant professor of agricultural and extension education. She presented her research as part of the 2018 Undergraduate Spring Research Symposium and placed first in the Humanities/Non-STEM category.

Schantz is president of Mountaineer Collegiate FFA, a member of Alpha Tau Alpha, and is a former state officer for the Maryland FFA Association.


Why did you choose your major?

As a high school student, I completed course work in a magnet program for animal and agricultural sciences. Although I entered the program with hopes of becoming a small animal veterinarian, I was quickly taken under the wing of my high school agriculture teachers and encouraged to explore passions related to many different fields of agriculture. I discovered a passion for assisting others in finding their passions and with the help of my teachers I realized that agricultural education would be the best home for me. West Virginia University was the clear choice for me after working closely with my agriculture teacher who was a proud Davis College graduate.

Describe any internships, research or study abroad opportunities you participated in.

Throughout my college experience I had the opportunity to complete several internship and research experiences. My primary internship took place with the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, where I served as the Educational Programs Assistant. This program allowed me to work closely with agricultural education in Maryland through the Agriculture in the Classroom program, the Maryland FFA Association, middle school programs, and various networking events across the state. I have continued this internship remotely while at school and in the office on breaks for the past four years.

I also spent time interning with the National FFA Organization as a Collegiate Conference assistant and Finals Hall Emcee during the past two National FFA Conventions and Expos. This position allowed me to coordinate with industry professionals and National FFA staff to prepare and organize materials for Career and Leadership Development Events for over 60,000 students from across the country. I also took place in short term internships with the Maryland Agricultural Teachers Association and the Maryland FFA Association.

During the final semester of my senior year I am completing my field experience as a student teacher at Jefferson High School for agriculture. This has provided me an environment to work closely with my cooperating teachers to better my teaching abilities and expand my knowledge of agricultural education and practice the advisor role for the Jefferson FFA Chapter.

As a junior I was able to be a part of the Research Apprenticeship Program working under Dr. Jessica Blythe to investigate Energy Literacy of West Virginia Agricultural Education Students. Through this process I was able to develop a research poster and present during the 2018 West Virginia University Undergraduate Research Symposium which placed first place in my category.

Each of these experiences have assisted me in developing into the person who I am today, and I look forward to continuing to apply these experiences as I continue to work toward becoming a high school agricultural educator.

What problem do you want to solve?

Agriculture is a misunderstood industry with a communication problem. Consumers often have opinions of practices based off misinformation, while producers are often frustrated with the knowledge shared but are lacking transparency and educational resources. I feel that this is a problem that can be solved through open communication and education. As an agriculture teacher I am excited for my ability to educate the next generation of consumers. Empowering students to become advocates for agriculture will create a ripple effect of education which will lessen the severity of our communication problem. There is great work needed to bridge this gap, but I am excited to begin my role in solving the problem.

What’s your advice for the Class of 2019?

Live every moment for what it is rather than worrying about what it could have been. Life is filled with choices. When you are making choices, it is important to consider your goals and the potential outcomes of your decision, however, when the decision has been made find ways to capitalize and thrive despite your situation. Dwelling on what could have been will lead you stuck staring out the rear-view mirror rather than focusing on the road ahead of you.