Sharon Wood-Turley is the reason many students in the science and agricultural journalism program decide to attend the University of Missouri, colleagues and students say. They had the chance to see her recognized for that dedication April 15 when she was awarded the Excellence in Advising Award from the MU Advisors Forum.
“I first met Sharon in 2011 at Summer Welcome,” said nominator Breanne Brammer, recent science and agricultural journalism graduate and current graduate student in agricultural education. “I was an incoming freshman from a small town and she immediately made my parents and I feel welcome. Sharon is a major reason why I decided to pursue a degree in science and agricultural journalism. She is a sincere individual who possesses an uncanny ability to guide and motivate her students. The words kind, genuine and knowledgeable are synonymous with Sharon.”
Wood-Turley is an assistant teaching professor, the program chair and the adviser chair in science and agricultural journalism. She is the only adviser in the program and typically advises 45-50 students per year. Wood-Turley is also the adviser for the Agricultural Communicators and Leaders of Tomorrow organization and leads CAFNR Corner Post, an online publication staffed by students in science and agricultural journalism courses.
“I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with our students,” Wood-Turley said. “Not only are they smart, creative and innovative, they are simply fun to be with. I truly enjoy interacting with them. And it’s gratifying to see the changes in each student from when I first meet them, usually during Summer Welcome, and when I see them graduating. Helping them find just the right internship or connecting a student with a professional who I know will be the perfect mentor is always fulfilling.”
Wood-Turley said she was inspired by her undergraduate adviser to provide students with the same level of respect and consideration she would hope her own children would encounter in a similar situation.
“I will always remember the day I met my undergraduate adviser, Martha Jo Martin. I had changed majors at least twice and my interactions with other advisers had not always been positive. I remember sitting in Dr. Martin’s office and thinking, ‘Wow this person is truly interested in me and what I want to do.’
“Martha Jo started telling me about a nutrition class she thought I should take, and when she glanced out the window she saw the instructor of that class walking down the sidewalk. She leaped out of her chair, ran out of the building, grabbed the nutrition instructor and brought her back in to meet me. That had such an impact on me.”
The Excellence in Advising Award recognizes two individuals each year at MU – one faculty member and one staff member, who have demonstrated the qualities associated with outstanding undergraduate student advising. Awardees receive a $1,000 award and a plaque. Support for the awards is provided by the Advisors Forum, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Total Person Program and the Office of the Provost.
Criteria for selection for the award includes demonstration of a caring attitude toward students; effective interpersonal skills; monitoring of student progress toward academic and life goals; mastery of institutional regulations, policies and procedures; and ability to engage in developmental advising (career and life planning).
“The award recognizes advisers who make a difference in the lives of undergraduate students,” said nominator Nina Furstenau, an instructor in science and agricultural journalism. “Sharon makes that important role seem effortless. Even with her demanding schedule, Sharon consistently demonstrates her caring attitude toward students by her attention to their needs. She has a seemingly amazing ability to take time within a busy schedule to fit in all requests for appointments, she communicates clearly on degree requirements, and has sincere interest in student success. Students sense her genuine nature and are motivated by it. I have seen this time and time again, each semester, each year.”
“The individuals nominated for this award are all highly deserving, so it is an amazing feeling to be selected as the recipient of the award,” Wood-Turley said. “I deeply appreciate Nina and the students taking the time to put together the nomination. It means a great deal to me.”