COE Congratulates its First-Ever Agricultural Leadership Grad

September 18, 2015


Katie M. Sowell and Dr. James E. Witte
Dr. James E. Witte and Katie M. Sowell

Katie M. Sowell of Prattville, Alabama, is set to become the first-ever graduate in the College of Education’s new Master’s of Agricultural Leadership program.

Following an undergraduate career in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Business, Biology, and Animal Science, Sowell had an internship with the Alabama Cattleman’s Association. She was drawn by this experience to want to stay in the agricultural field but was uncertain how to proceed. Someone suggested she talk to Dr. James E. Witte, a COE professor who specializes in Adult Education and is the program coordinator for Agricultural Leadership.

“The first thing Katie asked me was what she could do with an M.S. in this field, and I told her she could hang the degree on the wall!” Witte said with a laugh. “But I also told her that if she was looking to develop the kinds of knowledge and abilities that would apply to a broad range of agricultural-related jobs, this was the place for her. We want our graduates to leave here with a breadth of skills and rise to meet opportunities that come available, regardless of any specialized niche. Katie is that kind of student and that kind of person and I know she will be successful.”

Sowell did not grow up with a family background of agriculture but, in her words,“fell in love” with agriculture through her classroom and field experiences. This was especially true of animal science.

“I’m not sure where this degree will lead me but I can say it has been a wonderful experience,” Sowell said. “In addition to my agriculture classes, I was also able to delve deeply into adult education theory and research methods, both of which have improved my level of comfort with presentations and general articulation. I feel that I learned to relate well to many kinds of people, and to understand and interpret a wide range of issues and problems. I also learned a lot about teaching, which of course opens the doors to many areas, whether that is in a corporate boardroom or representing an ag-related product or service to the industry. I would just recommend this program to anyone who loves agriculture but also wants to broaden their experience.”

Witte believes his first graduate is setting a standard that many will follow.

“We are pleased and proud to have an excellent first graduate, not only in her ag concentration but also someone who was quick to adapt to adult learning methods. Katie is indeed a fine, fine representative for our program.”

Congratulations to Katie Sowell, a real “ground breaker!”