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Meet our teacher leaders

Whitney Short teaches agriscience and biotechnology to 7th-12th graders at Anthony Wayne High School in Perrysburg, Ohio. She recently attended the Commodity Classic in Florida with a group of educators and found the collaboration really helpful in learning from other science teachers and gaining ideas to build curriculum.

In the classroom: “One of my favorite things from GrowNextGen is the career video section. I often use these videos to introduce a unit, talk about careers, and more,” Whitney said. She has also used the site’s e-learning courses and lesson plans.

For other educators: Short and two other teacher leaders are currently writing units directly aligned to new standards for agriculture classes. They are developing plans for each unit in the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources course, the first course every ag student takes. Her goal? For each teacher to be able to access GrowNextGen for curriculum to use in their classrooms. “We have found that teachers are much more likely to implement the labs if they’ve done them themselves, so we take the labs to the teachers and teach them how to do them,” said Short.  

Classroom connection

Here’s a lesson that Whitney Short wrote.

Growing More Food.
How will we feed 9 billion people? Soybeans are a good source of protein. This lesson helps students learn about different options for growing soybeans, such as no-till versus conventional cultivation. Next, they’ll compare the growth of traditional soybean seeds with seeds that have been genetically modified to withstand the effects of a widely-used herbicide. Finally, they’ll write a technical paper sharing experiment data and background research. These activities combine science and engineering practices with cross-disciplinary content. GrowNextGen provides many instructional resources for educators, from curriculum to materials to workshops. These helpful, creative materials are developed by some special people! Teacher leaders are familiar with the classroom and learning objectives and can support your efforts. Here are two of our teacher leaders:

JANE HUNT

teaches biology to sophomores and AP Environmental Science to juniors and seniors at Upper Arlington High School. She has been developing and using Ohio Soybean Council educational materials since 2003. “When the chance to become a network leader was offered, I knew that I wanted to work with teachers and spread the word about agricultural topics and careers to students,” said Hunt. “My grandparents were farmers and I loved helping out there when I was younger. Lately, the news has been less than favorable surrounding agriculture as a business and I wanted to influence that trend with facts and information from the industry. This has enhanced my teaching in my own classroom as well!”

In the classroom: Hunt’s class watched the food science video before hearing a speaker from OSU discuss the problems a food scientist has to try to solve. “I also used the seed dissection activity from “Maintaining our Yield” to help students see the difference between soybeans and corn as it begins to grow,” she said. Learning about the technology used in agriculture from the Precision Agriculture career video has influenced her teaching about agriculture as a business.

For other educators: Hunt has presented curriculum at various regional conferences, and at this year’s Commodity Classic, she helped present a Learning Session for growers and administrators of state programs. Hunt developed the “Where does our food come from, anyway?” curriculum, helped organize events such as AgBiotech Academy, and recently developed an e-learning course on water quality. 
GrowNextGen provides many instructional resources for educators, from curriculum to materials to workshops. These helpful, creative materials are developed by some special people! Teacher leaders are familiar with the classroom and learning objectives and can support your efforts. Here are two of our teacher leaders:

Pam Snyder teaches BioScience Technology, a 2-year career technical education program for high school juniors and seniors, at Ft. Hayes Career Center in Columbus, Ohio. She got involved with GrowNextGen by attending workshops, then began writing lessons and leading workshops.

In the classroom: Snyder uses lessons from the biotechnology resource page and the e-learning courses “Soybeans 101” and “Bioproducts”.

For other educators: “One of my favorite things to do is to develop innovative, interesting and useful lessons. Biotechnology is such a new content area in science education, that there is a real need for all kinds of curriculum materials. Then, once these lessons are developed it is so important to share the work with others,” said Snyder. She recently presented two lessons at the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) annual national teacher professional development conferences.

Snyder added, “GrowNextGen provides a venue for teachers to find lessons that show the science in agriculture and the agriculture in science. This really seems to be a “hot” curriculum area. Students always want to know how the science concepts they learn in class are used in the real world. I was amazed during the recent NSTA conference in Chicago at how many sessions and vendors were relating presentations and other materials to agriculture. What a great experience!”

Rachel Sanders is a bioscience instructor at Global Impact STEM Academy in Clark County, Ohio, teaching Plant and Animal Biotech, Environmental Science, Science and Technology of Food, and Bioresearch. She got involved with GrowNextGen at a Biofuels conference while teaching at Springfield High.

In the classroom: Sanders and her biotech students have created lab activities for local elementary students, teaching 275 fifth-graders about bioproducts. “Then my female students and I turned the bioproduct activities into a Women in STEM event called “Soy Beautiful”, and girls in grades 4 through 8 came and learned how to use science equipment to make beauty products such a soy-based chapstick and soy milk soaps,” said Sanders. She has used the following GrowNextGen curricula in her classroom:

  • Soy Beautiful
  • Growing More Food
  • Are You Sterile?
  • Her Fishy, Fishy: Soy-fed Fish for Food Security
  • Are You Gonna Eat That?
  • Can You Taste the Difference?

For other educators: Sanders has led workshops for SECO and AgBiotech Academy, created lab activities for students to conduct at the Ohio State Fair, and developed curriculum for the GrowNextGen site. She is currently working with her FFA officers to plan a pre-session activity for the state convention in May, to get the word about GrowNextGen out to all attendees in Ohio!

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