“Externships are experiential learning opportunities, similar to internships but generally shorter, provided by partnerships between educational institutions and employers to give students short practical experiences in their field of study.” That’s how Wikipedia defines “externship”, but in this case, it was TEACHERS gaining practical experiences in a unique situation: visiting fields throughout the summer.
The externship was sponsored by the Ohio Soybean Council and coordinated by Jeff Goodbar at Sunrise Co-op in Fremont, Ohio. Sunrise provides agronomy, energy, feed, grain and precision products and services to farmers and businesses. The teachers involved all work at Global Impact STEM Academy Middle School: Amy Jo Henry, STEM and CTE Coordinator; Lindsay Heintz, middle school math teacher; and Kristyn Keriazes, middle school science teacher. The teachers learned about soybean and corn crops, how they are cared for, fertilized and tested for proper nutrients and growth. They were able to see how large-scale food production works and the trials and struggles that growers go through because of weather, economics, and limited resources like time and water.
Goodbar said, “It was a great opportunity for Sunrise to align themselves with a tremendous school like GISA. We look forward to future interaction with the school and are thrilled that they are teaching production agriculture to their students. Long term, this relationship could be very beneficial for both organizations and the employees and students.”
Henry hoped to gain more information about the Ag industry as a whole and to create a REAL case study that’s close to home to share with her students. Keriazes wanted a better understanding of the agricultural industry and the processes involved in the growth and production of soybeans and corn. Heintz was interested in learning more about the school’s focus on agriculture and seeing how she could integrate it into her math class.
As part of their externship, the teachers learned about proper soil and tissue sampling techniques and about the intricacies of farming—the planting decisions that farmers have to make and the factors they use to make those decisions, including data analysis. Heintz said, “I will walk away from the experience with a wealth of ag knowledge. I did not realize the number of variables related to the field of agriculture and the need for math when predicting crop success and future planting/growth.”
The end result? Henry said, “We are creating a case study which we will each use differently in our respective classes to help our students have a real-world application for the content they are learning.” Watch our website for this teaching tool!