Note from the Program Leader: A Shared Vision

by Dr. Brad Greiman, Program Leader

In September, the CHS Foundation announced a $3.44 million award to the University of Minnesota. This is the largest gift ever awarded by the foundation and continues its top long-term priority of developing the next generation of agricultural educators and leaders. Our program shares the same vision as the CHS Foundation and we have a key role in advancing the goals of the award.

CHS logo“The CHS Foundation is committed to growing the next generation of agriculture leaders,” says Linda Tank, president, CHS Foundation. “Together with the University of Minnesota, we are cultivating, preparing and helping agriculture leaders thrive now and into the future.” The gift will support development of the Minnesota Model, an innovative approach to enhance the image of agriculture and attract more students to career opportunities in the field. In addition, the collaborative project will establish partnerships to support future and current agricultural educators.

The Minnesota Model is a three-year project and phase one will focus on collaborative planning and developing partnerships to reach the project goals. The project has two primary components and I briefly describe each one.

Kindergarten Through Higher Education System
Assisting more students from kindergarten through higher education to understand agriculture, food, and natural resources (AFNR) concepts and career opportunities is needed to meet the current and projected demand for employees. The Minnesota Model is intended to start a systematic and innovative approach to teaching AFNR in more classrooms. Instructional materials focused on teaching STEM and other academic content in the context of AFNR, student inquiry, one-to-one technology integration, visual learning, and futuristic career opportunities will be developed. Agricultural education, STEM, and other teachers will be provided professional development to maximize effective teaching when using the instructional materials.

Campus Space for Teaching and Learning
Campus SpaceTo prepare the next generation of agricultural educators and leaders will require campus space to develop 21st century teaching and learning skills. A technology-enhanced, multi-use classroom and laboratory will meet students’ need for experiential learning. Currently, we do not have a designated campus classroom and laboratory to teach our students the skills needed for their future careers.

For example, engaging our students with the application of content pedagogy skills focused on agriscience and integrated STEM, food science, as well as aquaponics and biodiesel requires specialized space. In addition, we have been having collaborative conversations about development of a new course on precision agriculture. The course will be taught in this campus location and aims to engage students with the application of GIS, GPS, drones, sensors, and robotics.

Elementary and secondary teacher licensure students beyond agricultural education could utilize this campus space to engage in AFNR content pedagogy strategies. Further, professional development for current teachers such as CASE Institutes could be hosted at this campus location. A determination on estimated costs, campus location, and feasibility of moving forward on this component of the gift will be made near the end of spring semester.

I serve as Project Director for the Minnesota Model while Jacqueline Artymiuk-Moe, an Agricultural Education graduate student, is the Project Coordinator. I look forward to providing progress updates in future issues of The Enthusiast.

Happy Holidays!