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Aaron McKim named 2023 ASEC Distinguished Alumnus

Aaron J. McKim (B.S., Agricultural Education, 2010) has been named a Purdue Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication Distinguished Alumnus for 2023.

McKim is an associate professor and program lead in Michigan State University Department of Community Sustainability. McKim has developed multiple courses in leadership and agricultural education and has revitalized the agriculture teacher education program, evidenced by a three-fold increase in the number of students receiving agriculture teacher certification since his start at Michigan State in 2016.
Aaron McKim Aaron J. McKim (B.S., Agricultural Education, 2010) is an associate professor and program lead in Michigan State University Department of Community Sustainability.

McKim grew up on a small hobby farm just outside Lanesville, Indiana, with his parents (Denzil and Shirley McKim) and older siblings (Seth, Simon, and Rebekah). During his sophomore year in high school, McKim joined the newly chartered agricultural education program and FFA at Lanesville High School, led by Gary Geswein. This agricultural education experience had a tremendous impact on McKim and crystalized his dream of attending Purdue to study Agricultural Education. This dream was made possible, in part, by Aaron’s participation in the 21st Century Scholars program along with various other supports.

While at Purdue, Aaron was actively engaged in the Indiana Association of Agricultural Educators-Purdue chapter and as an employee of Earhart Dining Court. After earning his bachelor’s degree, McKim was a middle school and high school agricultural educator at Switzerland County High School in Vevay, Indiana, with Greg Curlin. McKim taught courses in agricultural mechanics; food science; and introductory agriculture, food, and natural resources. He also co-facilitated the Switzerland County FFA.

After teaching for two years, Aaron and his wife Lauren moved to Corvallis, Oregon, so he could pursue graduate work. He earned an M.S. in Agricultural Education in 2013 and a Ph.D. in Science Education in 2016, both under the tutelage of Jonathan Velez at Oregon State University. At Oregon State, McKim was actively engaged in teaching postsecondary courses in teacher education and leadership, including co-developing the OSU Interdisciplinary Leadership Minor.

After earning his Ph.D., McKim obtained a tenure-track faculty position at Michigan State working in agriculture teacher education and leadership. He also helped create a practitioner-oriented master’s degree, renewed doctoral emphasis in agricultural education, and a doubling of outreach and recruitment programs within agricultural education at Michigan State.

Over his career, McKim has published 56 peer-reviewed journal articles in 12 different academic journals, written two book chapters, and has secured more than $3 million dollars in external funding from NSF and USDA.

McKim’s contributions to the literature on agricultural education are expansive, including authoring the seminal work on land-based learning, a novel pedagogical approach linking high school students with local producers to solve place-based, authentic problems.

McKim also introduced leadership for sustainability, a perspective that challenges traditional notions of leadership and offers an alternative approach based on emergent innovations toward a more resilient future. Additionally, McKim is actively involved in outreach, including leading the Curriculum Resources for Michigan Agriculture Teachers website, which has been used by more than 200,000 individuals since its creation in 2019.

McKim’s work has been recognized through multiple awards, including the 2023 Howard and Lili Camden Endowed Teacher/Scholar Award and 2019 Excellence in Teaching New Teacher Award, both from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State. Additionally, Aaron has been recognized with the 2022 Outstanding Early Career Member award from the American Association for Agricultural Education; the Emerging Scholar award from the Association of Leadership Educators; and 20 awards for his scholarship at the regional, national, and international levels from various journals and associations.

McKim is most proud of his family. Spending time laughing and learning alongside his wife (Lauren) and son (Lincoln, age 5) are the greatest joys of his life. McKim also enjoys time with more extended family, playing sports, euchre, canasta, and board games.

The other 2023 ASEC Distinguished Alumni are Abigail Borron and Travis Park.

The awards presentation will be 2 p.m. Friday, September 15, in Creighton Hall of Animal Sciences, room 1042. All are welcome to attend the ceremony and the reception that follows.

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