School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences Faculty Publications and Presentations

Boot camp–style teacher workshops to incorporate hands-on activities in agricultural sciences

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Food security is one of the most pressing concerns of our times. Despite the vast opportunities, there is a shortage of skilled professionals in the food, agriculture, and plant sciences. Although most programs focused on addressing this concern have targeted students, we have often overlooked another critical group—the teachers. To address this issue, we recruited high school teachers from the Pharr–San Juan–Alamo Independent School District (PSJA-ISD) in South Texas to participate in a workshop at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and fostered their agricultural knowledge through boot camp–style intensive training by faculty members in food, agriculture, and plant sciences. Through this project, we seek to indirectly educate nearly 2,000 high school students and use these lesson plans as models for undergraduate education. Results from the teacher and student assistant evaluations show that our workshop structure and design is effective in serving the objectives and instigating interest among teachers who plan to incorporate these into their lesson plans. Student assistants involved in the project also describe it as an opportunity to improve their teaching and public speaking skills. Taken together, we suggest that in addition to planning student-centered activities, the teacher-centered activities should also take the center stage in our fight for better food security.


© 2020 The Authors. Natural Sciences Education © 2020 American Society of Agronomy

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Natural Sciences Education