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Plant, Animal, and Life Sciences Instructor Julia Rotman-Smith attends state Agriscience Inquiry Institute


Julia Rotman-Smith speaks at the 2017 CTE Year-End Ceremony.

An educator at Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES was recently selected to attend an Agriscience Inquiry Institute hosted by the National Association of Agricultural Educators and the New York Association of Agricultural Educators in Oswegatchie, N.Y.  CO BOCES’ Plant, Animal, and Life Sciences Instructor Julia Rotman-Smith attended the professional development institute at the Oswegatchie Educational Center, June 20-23, 2017. The event focused on teaching agricultural educators how to incorporate inquiry-based learning into their courses. The institute was facilitated by New York agriscience educators who have been trained as National Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors.

The New York NAAE Agriscience Inquiry Institute focused on improving agriscience teachers’ ability to incorporate scientific teaching methodology, problem solving, and inquiry-based learning into their existing agriscience curricula. This training is invaluable for solidifying the connections between the core subject areas of math, science, language arts and social studies with agriscience. 

Throughout the training, teachers engaged from both the perspective of a student and a teacher.  Inquiry-based teaching is student-centered, allows for more collaborative learning, and encompasses 21st Century Skills development. Research shows that students who learn through hands-on, inquiry-based lessons are more successful in high school and beyond. Another goal is to improve student performance on standardized tests through the methodologies of inquiry-based instruction and activities in the agriscience classroom.

During the training, participants explored inquiry-based learning in the Agricultural Power, Environment/Natural Resources, Plant Science, Animal/Vet Science, and Food Science pathways.

“These teachers are leaving the training with a powerful skill,” said Alissa Smith, NAAE associate executive director. “Students become deeply engaged when they are challenged to ask questions, investigate the answers, and build new knowledge. In the process, they discover connections to things they learned previously, and also learn how to communicate their new findings effectively. Agriscience is a perfect place for teachers to incorporate this style of learning, because it is already so hands-on.

The New York Agriscience Inquiry Institute grew out of another professional development program for agricultural educators – the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Program. This is a highly selective national program through which a handful of teachers each year are trained in inquiry-based learning and highlighting the science in agriscience.

New York has several National Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors, and they wanted to share the impact of that training with their colleagues throughout the state.
This program was sponsored by DuPont, the National Association of Agricultural Educators, the New York Association of Agricultural Educators, Cornell University, and the New York State Education Department.
 
NAAE is the professional organization in the United States for agricultural educators.  It provides its’ nearly 8,000 members with professional networking and development opportunities, professional liability coverage, and extensive awards and recognition programs. The mission of NAAE is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service.”  The NAAE headquarters are in Lexington, Ky.  


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