ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Long-time Allentown High School teachers and FFA Advisors Jack and Cyndee Roszel and late Rutgers Cooperative Extension specialist Dan Kluchinski were honored Feb. 7 with Distinguished Service to Agriculture Citations by the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture during the New Jersey State Agricultural Convention in Atlantic City.
“New Jersey has many people who are dedicated to agriculture and the Roszels and Dan Kluchinski have been outstanding examples of that,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “While we are saddened by Dan’s recent passing, he leaves a legacy that will be carried on by those who knew him and those involved in New Jersey agriculture. The Roszels have encouraged many young people to find ways to stay involved in agriculture and their influence will last for generations.”
Kluchinski, who passed away on Oct. 16 after an incredible fight with cancer, joined the faculty of Rutgers University in 1988, serving as County Agricultural and Resource Management Agent in Mercer County, achieving the rank of Professor in 2004. Dan’s area of expertise included agronomy and sustainable agriculture supporting growers in Mercer County and the state. His greatest programmatic efforts were research into the use of municipal collected tree leaves as a soil amendment.
Kluchinski served as Department Chair and Associate Director of Extension (2003-2017). As Department Chair, his passion was supporting County Agricultural agents through mentorship, administrative support and the development of career guidance materials. He also served as chair of the North East Agricultural and Resource Management Program Leaders Committee. He served on numerous committees including co-chair of Rutgers Cook College and the NJ Agricultural Experiment Station Strategic Planning Committee and co-chair, Rutgers Cook College’s Transforming Undergraduate Education Committee, as well as many other school and university committees.
Kluchinski was the first Rutgers Cooperative Extension person to serve as an Advisor on the Certification Board, member of the Executive Committee and Secretary and member of the Board of Directors of the Northeast Organic Farming Association-New Jersey. He was instrumental in establishing NOFA-NJ’s educational outreach efforts including the Organic County Fairs and Winter Conference educational meeting.
He was a long-time member of the American Society of Agronomy and served in numerous leadership capacities with the National Association of County Agricultural Agents including Extension Development Council Chair, Board of Directors, Chair of NACAA Futuring Committee and National Chair, Early Career Development Committee twice. Dan was instrumental in the formation of the Northeast Association of County Agricultural Agents and served as their first president.
The Roszels, of Monmouth County, met one another on the campus of Delaware Valley College where they earned their Bachelor of Science degrees in 1972 and 1974 and were married in 1975.
After graduation, the Roszels came to teach Agricultural Education at Allentown High School to begin their dedicated careers. Teaching at Allentown High School allowed them to make a positive difference in the lives of over 5,000 students.
They also each earned their Master’s of Science degrees in education from Rutgers University and their devotion to the agricultural education profession has been exemplified by their commitment to student success. The agricultural education program has been in existence at Allentown High School since 1938, but for many years only included production agriculture classes for males.
In 1974, with the support of the Advisory Committee, the Roszels began the work of converting the traditional program into a modern Ag Education format. With classes such as Animal Science, Plant Science, Equine Science and Environmental Science, Allentown was one of the first agricultural education programs in the state and region to change to that innovative method.
The Roszels also emphasized responsibility and confidence by providing students with knowledge and hands on experience. Their students have been taught through real-world experience by participation in debates, hands-on demonstrations and various farming projects. Through the basic principles of experiential learning, many of their former students have been highly successful in the agricultural industry.
Under the Roszels, the achievements of the Allentown FFA Chapter were numerous, including over 100 first place finishes in State Career Development Events, more than 85 Allentown members earning the State FFA Degree, more than 15 members attaining their American Degree and more than 40 members serving as state FFA officers.
Organizations who qualify to send delegates to the New Jersey State Agricultural Convention may nominate a state farmer for this award. For more information on the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/about/sba/guidelin.html.
— New Jersey Department of Agriculture