Donna Westfall-Rudd

Associate Professor

  • Teaching and Learning

Ph.D., Education, Cornell University

M.S., Agricultural Education, Cornell University

B.S., Agricultural Education, Cornell University  

A.A.S., Agricultural Business, State University of New York, College of Agriculture and Technology, Cobleskill, New York


•North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teaching Fellow Award, June, 2013

•Outstanding Research Award, Dept. of Agricultural and Ext. Education, May 2010

•Mary Merrill Memorial Award for Outstanding Feature Article in The International Journal of Volunteer Administration (IJOVA), 2009

•Alan A. Kahler Outstanding Dissertation Award, American Association for Agricultural Education, May 2009

•Marvin & Ruth Glock Dissertation Research Award, Department of Education, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, May 2009

•Outstanding Symposium Award, The Academy for Career and Technical Teacher Education & Association for Career and Technical Education Research, November, 2009

Dr. Westfall-Rudd’s teaching, research, and outreach efforts are closely integrated in an effort to reflect the mission of a Land Grant University. This integrated work focuses on integrating her academic activities with new agricultural educators (secondary, postsecondary, and non-formal) and continuing education experiences within the agricultural education professional communities with research and scholarship through an evolving examination of the educational program planning, design, and implementation practices of pre-service and in-service teaching professionals. The over-arching questions Dr. Westfall-Rudd seeks to address are:

• How must agricultural education programs be designed to be responsive to current and future trends in the agriculture industry with relevant curriculum content and alignment with national and state academic standards?

• What are the critical educational components and experiences for rigorous, student centered university classrooms?

• How do we prepare secondary teachers and university faculty members to integrate and balance new knowledge and skills in contemporary teaching practices, identified in the current teacher preparation literature, with the technical skills and knowledge expected within their professional practice?

To support this work Dr. Westfall-Rudd has served as principal investigator for 14 different grants or funded projects for a total of more than $500,000. She also among the senior personnel for 19 different grants or funded projects for a total of more than $1,445,000. The objectives for this work include examining:

1. Current pre-service and continuing professional education programs available within Virginia’s agricultural extension and education professions to identify necessary changes critical for growth and development of the professions;

2. The impact of revisions of the pre-service educational programs and how those revisions align with the current and changing content and pedagogical needs of the agricultural education professionals, as well as their current and potential clientele, utilizing contemporary planning practices in local communities;

3. State-wide and local community based strategic program planning practices within formal and non-formal agricultural education organizations.

4. Professional identity development of CALS graduate students transitioning into new careers in education and communities of practice.

5. The use of technologies as tools for teaching and learning in postsecondary and secondary agricultural learning environments.


Dr. Westfall-Rudd serves as the CALS Graduate Teaching Scholars Program Director & Sr Scholar. As a part of the Graduate Teaching Scholars program each scholar is expected to design and implement a small research project within their teaching practice. The concept of scholarship in teaching and learning are introduced early in the first year of the program.  Students embrace this opportunity to publish and together scholars have produced conference posters, conference presentations, and journal articles. As the program coordinator Dr. Westfall-Rudd works with each of the scholars to ensure they have the basic knowledge and training needed to conduct this social science research.

Another major research project has been an examination of stakeholder access and participation in the state-wide strategic planning process of the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE).  This involved the observation and data collection at 48 meetings of internal and external stakeholders across the state where more than 12,000 stakeholder comments were collected and analyzed for the development of the VCE strategic planning priorities.  We are in the process of publishing the findings form this extensive project.

Recent Grant Projects (selected)   

Rudd R., D. Westfall-Rudd, M. Spindler. January 2013 - December 2018. INNOVATE, ALCE SUB CONTRACT. USAID. Total Amount: $470,000.

Westfall-Rudd D., R. Rudd, M. Spindler, H. Scherer. January 2014 - December 2015. Increasing Community Viability and Workforce Development through Implementation of The Governor’s Taskforce for Agricultural Education Recommendations. VDACS and CALS Community Viability. Total Amount: $250,000.

Westfall-Rudd D., R. Rudd, L. Woodward. July 2014 - June 2015. Virginia FFA Support. Virginia Department of Education. Total Amount: $97,500.

Westfall-Rudd D. August 2014 - September 2016. ERA ALCE GRA, sub-contract with VT ORIED. US Agency for International Development. Total Amount: $50,312.

Westfall-Rudd D. March 2013 - June 2014. Teaching & Learning Resource Library Development for Graduate Teaching Scholars and New CALS Faculty. CALS Integrated Internal Competitive Grants Program. Total Amount: $3,000.

Westfall-Rudd D., C. Friedel. May 2014 - August 2014. Summer Research Scholars Program for Minority Secondary Agricultural Science Students. Uniondale Central School, Uniondale, NY. My Amount, estimated: $9,500. Total Amount: $19,000.

Westfall-Rudd, D. M., Rudd, R., Seibel, G. (October 2010 – July, 2013). Rural Innovation Project. VADACS & CALS Community Viability. Funded at $150,000.

Niewolny, K., Westfall-Rudd, D. M., Hodges, S., Rudd, R. (October 2010 - August 2013). Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Project. USDA, NIFA, Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. Funded at $743,872.

Niewolny, K., Bendfeldt, E., Seibel, M., Crutchfield, W., Walker, M., Hodges, S., Westfall-Rudd, D. M. (March, 2013 – June, 2014). Growing the Next Generation: Coalition Model Assessment and Training Initiative of the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program. CALS Integrated Internal Competitive Grants Program. Funded at $45,000.

Westfall-Rudd, D. M., Byrd, R. (August, 2012 – December, 2013). Adult Education Programs Focused on New Local Alternative Agricultural Production Opportunities. Virginia Tech Community Viability Matching Grant Funding.  Funded at $10,000.

Off campus Dr. Westfall-Rudd works with secondary agricultural education teachers from across the Commonwealth to support their development of new curriculum and program resources to teach their students new innovations relevant to the agriculture industry in their region (please insert link to the VA Ag Ed Centers of Innovation website). Most recently Dr. Westfall-Rudd has broadened her program planning work to include collaborations with agricultural community educators and university faculty in Senegal through the USAID funded ERA Senegal: Education and Research in Agriculture project directed by the Virginia Tech Office of International Research, Education, and Development.

An important component of her work was the opportunity to work with agricultural educators to develop new resources and continuing education programs to support their professional practices. She works with the VAAE leadership to conduct an annual conference for new agricultural educators where she provides leadership in the conference format and content.

We completed the NIFA funded portion of our Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher project during the summer of 2013 and it has now become a recognized program for VCE.  In addition to serving on the planning and management team for this three-year project, Dr. Westfall-Rudd provided leadership for the design, development, and implementation of the program curriculum.  This work was completed by a curriculum design committee that represented the 27 members of the project’s participating institutions and organizations and 26 contributing authors.

ALCE 3004 Educational Courses in Agricultural and Life Sciences

ALCE 4034 Methods of Planning Educational Programs in Agriculture

ALCE 4244 Teaching and Training Methods in ALCE - Team teach with Drs. Scherer and Spindler

ALCE 5044 Program and Curriculum Design

ALCE 6415 - 6416 Introduction to Graduate Teaching Scholars

ALCE 6425 – 6426 University Teaching Development

ALCE 6435 – 6436 Engagement in University Teaching

Burbaugh B., T. Drape, D. Westfall-Rudd. A Descriptive Account of Factors Affecting Student Satisfaction in an Online Master’s Degree in Agriculture and Life Sciences. North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Journal, 58 (4), 341-348.

McKee, K. E.* & Westfall-Rudd, D. M. (In Press). Components of teacher identity as indicated by clinical faculty. Journal of Career and Technical Education Research.

Waknine, J.*, Westfall-Rudd, D. M., Vengrin, C.* (In Press). A Case Study of Student Cognitive Responses to Learning with Computer-Assisted Modular Curriculum. Journal of Career and Technical Education Research.

Drape, T. D.*, Westfall-Rudd, D. M., Doak, S., Guthrie, J., Mykerezi, P. (2013). Technology Integration in an Agriculture Associate's Degree Program: A Case Study Guided by Rogers' Diffusion of Innovation. North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Journal, 57(1), pp. 24 – 35. Available at

McKee, K.*, Westfall-Rudd, D. M. (2012).  Professional Identity Development in Doctoral Students.  Polish Journal of Continuing Education. 2/2012. Available at

Westfall-Rudd, D. M. (2011). Agricultural Education Teacher Leaders’ Development of Ownership and Responsibility for the Profession in Continuing Professional Education Program Planning:  A Case Study.  Journal of Agricultural Education, 52(3), pp 148-161.  DOI:  10.5032/jae.2011.03148. Available at

Wood, C. M., Lyons, R. E., Ellerbrock, M. J., Moore, D. M. (2010).  Evolution of a Liberal Education Course Linking Agriculture, the Arts, and Society.  North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Journal 54 (1), 61 – 68.  Available at

Kaufman, E., Carter, H., Rudd, R., Moore, D. M. (2009). Leadership Development for Local Volunteers:  A Case Study of Andragogy in Practice. The International Journal of Volunteer Administration (XXVI, No. 3).

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