So what is Ag Biotech Academy REALLY like?

When I first heard about the Ag Biotech academy, I was nervous to go. As a second year teacher at the time when I went, I was scared that I wouldn’t have much to offer to the course. Being at an event with teachers who have ten times the experience, have deeper ag backgrounds and are just all around great teachers was a little intimidating. I remember asking myself, “What do I have to offer?”

This question was pushed out of my mind once the sessions got started. First and foremost, the workshop leaders are fantastic people who care about us growing in our skills as teachers and want to give us the tools to succeed in our classroom. Even though I was one of a very few that had under five years of experience, I felt supported by my more experienced peers. All the participants were awesome to work with and talk to. The networking alone would have made the two days awesome!

I remember walking into the conference wondering how I could incorporate the ideas of agriculture into my curriculum. How could I reach my students who have farming backgrounds, as well as those that don’t? The Ag Biotech academy helped me to solve that problem. GMO is a buzzword that all students know, but they don’t necessarily know what it means for food security. I now have the tools to answer their questions and to help make students informed science citizens.

The Ag Biotech Academy also allows you to meet with industry professionals. It gives you information that will help to inform your students in ag careers that go beyond being a farmer. The scope of agriculture has greatly expanded. There are so many careers that anyone can do with or without an ag background!

The last thing that separates the Ag Biotech Academy from other professional developments I have done is the network of support that you gain. GrowNextGen has a vast network of industry professionals and teachers who are only an e-mail or call away to help you out. GrowNextGen wants for you to succeed in your classroom and use the information that you gained!

I have walked out of professional developments where I thought, “That is all well and good, but how do I use that?” or “Who do I ask for help when I hit a sticking point?” You will not think that after Ag Biotech Academy. You have the resources at your disposal on the GrowNextGen website. From curriculum to contact information, GrowNextGen has worked to make using the information as seamless as possible into your class. The connection to teachers who have completed the Ag Biotech Academy and are using the curriculum in their classes is invaluable. Add industry leaders that can be a resource to your students is the proverbial icing on the cake!

If you are wondering if Ag Biotech Academy is for you, the answer is simply, YES! It does not matter if you don’t have an agriculture background or if you are a second year or twenty-second year teacher—you will walk out with information that will help you better inform your students on the importance of agriculture. I strongly recommend that anyone considering it should sign up! You will walk away with a deeper understanding of the role of agriculture in our society and a vast network of individuals who want to help you succeed in your own journey of implementing ag-based education in your classroom.

Brian Badenhop

Environmental Science, Biology, and Science and Society Teacher at Ohio Hi-Point Career Center

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