(June 21, 2013) Fourteen high school agriculture teachers from Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri and Washington state are on the McNeese State University campus learning about plant science through a two-week national CASE (Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education) Institute hosted by the Harold and Pearl Dripps Agricultural Sciences Department.
These teachers are here to learn everything from plant anatomy and physiology to soil testing and from pollination and fertilization to plant diseases and pests to enhance the student learning experience of agricultural science subject matter for their classrooms back home, according to Dwight Bertrand, McNeese instructor of agriculture.
"CASE is an instructional program that provides intense teacher professional development and curriculum that is changing the culture of agriculture programs," said Bertrand.
"Through its system of professional development, curriculum, assessment and certification, CASE equips teachers to elevate student experiences in the agriculture classroom and prepares students for success in college and careers emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math."
McNeese is one of 21 sites that offer CASE Institutes nationwide and this is McNeese's fifth year to participate in the program.
Sheridan Clinkscales and Jim Green are the lead teachers for this year's institute.
Clinkscales, who worked at McNeese's first CASE Institute in 2009, said she hopes teachers can take back to their high schools the "confidence to increase the rigor of their agricultural sciences curricula while at the same time presenting new content and activities into the classroom."
Green said the institute provides a science-based curriculum that exposes students to more science inquiry. "CASE provides the tools for teachers to expose their students to possible careers out there in the STEM areas." These tools include lesson plans, resources and activities to take back to the classroom.
Jeremy Sisco, from Ozark High School in Missouri, said his high school has the second largest Future Farmers of America chapter in the state and has a hands-on greenhouse on campus. "I can't wait to introduce the plant science content I've learned through CASE into my horticulture classes."
Sulphur High ninth grade teacher Charlotte Trahan - a 1986 McNeese animal sciences graduate - just completed her first year teaching six sections of Agriculture I. She previously taught biology classes at Sulphur High for 21 years. "The institute has been informative. I will now be able to introduce lab activities into my classes which will make the transition easier for my students moving into the upper level Ag II classes."
Will Warren, of Worcester Technical High School in Newark, Md., said working with plants in a university lab setting is a great opportunity. "I want my students to associate science with plants and know that this combination will give them a clearer knowledge about plant science. This institute will help me do this."
Aubrey Markel teaches horticulture, food science, agricultural sciences and natural resources at Chewelah High School in Chewelah, Wash. "At CASE, I have learned how to add more rigor and relevance into the existing agriculture curriculum at my school that will hopefully engage the interests of my students."