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GrowNextGen teacher leader

John Thomas

Biotechnology and Environmental Science instructor at Tolles Technical Center, Fairbanks Middle and High School

John knows a lot about: biotechnology, genetics, toxicology, aquaponics

Thomas is is willing to be contacted by other teachers regarding biotechnology, genetics, biofuels, aquaponics, and toxicology. He loves teaching about water quality and is passionate about environmental biotechnology. Specific topics that he would be interested in collaborating on or sharing about are toxicology, aquaponics, and aquaculture.

What about teaching excites you?

I love working alongside my students to solve real-world problems—we find a problem and try to solve it. Sometimes you have to take a risk and dive right into the world that you are trying to study. Every question opens a new door of discovery. Open-ended projects are the best because they have no limits.

What was your “aha” moment when you realized the value of using agriculture as a vehicle to teach science?

Agriculture is nearly synonymous with biotechnology. The most simplistic of advancements in biotech can completely change the world. My a-ha moment came when I heard the quote “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Whether it is bees pollinating or bacteria proliferating, nature does things so efficiently. Why not work with it?

How do you help students make the industry or real-world connection to what they’re learning?

I surround myself with experts in the career field that we are studying. I ask them for recommendations and try to bring in as much help as possible. Whether it is a guest speaker or a donation of equipment, our students have definitely benefited from business and industry partnerships. It is amazing how many people are willing to help the next generation grow!

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