Posted: May 30, 2017

2007 grad Rachel Cloninger will work with current and prospective students in Department of Animal Science.

Rachel Cloninger, Marietta, has been named Animal Science Advising Coordinator for Penn State's Department of Animal Science. A 2007 graduate of Penn State in Animal Science, she brings a wealth of experience from her on-campus experience and her post graduate employment. She is taking over the responsibilities of Jana Peters, who is retiring on June 30, 2017.

As an Ag Advocate when she was an undergraduate student, Cloninger is used to touting the benefits of a degree in animal science. As a participant in student activities, she also understands how important experiences outside the classroom can be.

She said, "I hope to pull from my experiences and share my passion with current and prospective students to help position them for future success. I can draw on all of my undergraduate experiences to help them understand and take advantage of the unique and diverse opportunities they will have during their time here."

Dr. Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Animal Science, said, "We welcome Rachel to this important position and know that her experiences will be extremely valuable as she relates to both current and future students."

Cloninger said, "My time as an Ag Advocate will help me as I begin to recruit students. I think the combination of classroom education coupled with extracurricular opportunities provide the ideal balance of experiential learning that allows students in Animal Science to set themselves apart." She credits her internships for helping her gain valuable knowledge as well.

She grew up on a dairy farm in Westmoreland County which is still owned and operated by her parents and two of her brothers. Her activities in 4-H were varied, from showing cows, to public speaking, to sewing and other projects, along with being a camp counselor and holding various leadership roles.

While at Penn State, she was active in Alpha Zeta fraternity, the Dairy Science Club, the Collegiate Farm Bureau and the Coaly Society, along with being an Ag Advocate. She chaired the Nittany Lion Fall Classic and traveled to New Zealand with the Dairy Science Club.

After graduation she worked for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, AgChoice Farm Credit and PennAg Industries.

Cloninger said she will advise students "to step outside their comfort zone, to experience the endless career possibilities in Animal Science, and to try things to determine what they don't like as well as what they do like." She added, "Our industry is so well-connected. You never know when you might hear a speaker in the classroom who may someday become your boss, or when a person who shared a group project may become your colleague."

As she begins her new role in the Department of Animal Science, she said, "I look forward to working with students, to get to know them and become a resource for them - and to help them be successful in any way I can."

She and her husband, Ben, have two children and will move from Lancaster County and look forward to becoming involved in their new community.

For more information on the Department of Animal Science, Cloninger can be reached at 814-865-1362 or