Some 41 state education officials and agriculture teachers from 11 states came to the headquarters of Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, Aug. 9-13 to attend the first National Agriscience Integration Institute (NAII) designed to promote and enhance opportunities for inquiry-based science in environmental and agricultural education system programs, student attainment of science content standards and national agriculture content standards.
NAII is an extension of the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy (NATAA), held annually at the DuPont-owned Chesapeake Farms, Chestertown, Md. The Academy is a professional development program where agriculture teachers learn new inquiry-based teaching techniques to improve science learning. More than 90 teachers from across the United States have attended NATAA in the past seven years. Both NAII and the Academy are DuPont-sponsored programs.
All teacher ambassadors graduating from NATAA are invited to be a part of NAII being held in Johnston, Iowa, on the campus of Pioneer Hi-Bred, “The exciting aspect of this training is that it has been designed as a state team agriculture education approach,” said Larry Gossen, NAII manager and senior team leader for state relations with the National FFA. “The goal is to make a positive impact on the integration of science and use of inquiry-based instruction in 10 to 12 states annually, utilizing the team agriculture education concept.”
Three or more persons make up a state team, including at least one experienced agriscience teacher ambassador, a university teacher-educator, and a state education staff person. Because of the size of the teams, a maximum of 10 to 12 state teams are accepted each year. It is hoped that agriculture teachers and state education officials from all 50 states will be covered in the next four to five years. Teams attending this year came from Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin.
In addition to four days of intensive training on inquiry-based instruction, the objectives of the NAII training include:
• Develop a professional working relationship with university teacher-educators, agriscience teacher ambassadors and agricultural education state staff in promoting inquiry-based instruction used in the agriscience classroom.
• Develop a state professional development plan for agriscience ambassadors, agricultural education state staff and teacher educators to train all teachers in their states on inquiry-based instruction.
• Provide assistance in developing and/or converting existing lessons into inquiry-based lesson plans and make available to agricultural education teachers and science teachers.
The overall expectation is that the state agriscience integration (SAI) team will develop a plan for integrating agriscience and inquiry-based instruction to their state agriculture education instructors. “Science, agriculture and DuPont is a natural association. This is the 61st year that DuPont has been actively associated with the FFA. I am pleased that DuPont and the FFA can join forces for this program and help advance agriculture science,” said James C. Collins, Jr., vice president and general manager - DuPont Crop Protection and member of the FFA national board of directors.
The National FFA Organization, with more than 491,000 members operates under a Federal Charter granted by the 81st Congress of the United States. FFA membership offers students opportunities that change lives and prepares students for premier leadership, personal growth and career success. The FFA organization represents a large diversity of more than 300 careers in the food, fiber and natural resources industry.