Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Getting their hands dirty: teachers and Agriculture in the Classroom

For the first time, UAF Summer Sessions is offering teachers a chance to get their hands in the dirt and learn about Alaska agriculture. The new course offering, Alaska Agriculture in the Classroom, will prepare teachers to integrate the science of agriculture into their existing lesson plans.

“We hope this will expose students to agriculture,” said Professor Milan Shipka, chair of SNRAS’ High Latitude Agriculture department. “Teachers will have the opportunity to learn about agriculture and gain ideas about how to tie the components of agriculture, including physical science and social science, into the classroom curriculum. Agriculture is a science with really practical applications.”

The course will be offered June 2-4 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm on the UAF campus. Instructors are Victoria Naegele, executive director of Alaska Agriculture in the Classroom, and Marilyn Krause, a science teacher at Ryan Middle School and an FFA advisor. On the agenda are tours of farms and agriculture-related businesses, digging in a soil pit, learning about the state’s agriculture history, and understanding organic and sustainable agriculture. “I want the teachers to see agriculture at work,” Naegele said. “There is such diversity of agriculture in Alaska. We’re trying to make kids agriculturally literate.” Part of the course will involve teaching hands-on activities that children can do in the classroom.

Naegele has taught a similar course at the Matanuska Experiment Farm for the past two summers. Teachers are introduced to the Alaska Agriculture in the Classroom program and learn interdisciplinary methods of teaching principles of agriculture and strategies to promote students’ understanding of soil science, the water cycle, nutrition, gardening/gathering, agro-economics, innovations, and careers. There is a $100 materials and field trip fee and an administration charge of $90.

To register for the one or two-credit course, visit Summer Sessions and sign up for CRN 52291 or contact Wanda Tangermann, 474-7188. The class is limited to 25 students.

Related information:
US Department of Agriculture
Alaska Farm Bureau
Alaska Division of Agriculture
Natural Resource Conservation Service
USDA food pyramid

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