Cornell - n early May, the 106 Potsdam High School students...

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Unformatted text preview: n early May, the 106 Potsdam High School students in David Sipher’s agriculture education classes are cranking it out. Those in the nat— ural resources class are coming up with three quick ways the United States can reduce energy use by 10 ' percent. Meanwhile, the veterinary science students are figuring out how a'elear‘tii'l't-tr mu; f:':‘l.;‘ ' organic food production can fit in : _ ' with the livestock industry. And out in “"3”- ” V“ “I?” E.“ " - -*' the attached greenhouse, 21 kids in the greenhouse management class are transplanting petunia plugs into hang— ing baskets. Greenhouse management is Sipher’s most popular class. “Nothing else in the school is remotely like this class, says Sipher, a 196? graduate of Cornell’s College of AgflClflture and Life Sciences and a .‘jttnl‘L‘Hsfi‘ :1?“ ‘ r">E‘{<-:'Iii.‘« rail: M2 .- The coliege's teacher education program prepares graduates to integrate science into agricutture education classes for high school former dairy farmer who began teach- ing 13 years ago. “After weekends,- kids rush in to see what has changed.” After 20 years of declining enroll- ments, agriculture education in New York State’s high schools is poised toward an upswing. From the 106 students in Potsdam to the 500 at John Bowne High School in Flushing, Queens, 6,000 of New York’s high schoolers currently participate in 160 programs throughout the state. Agriculture education is not confined to rural areas alone—there are pro- grams in New York City, Albany, Buffalo, and Syracuse. Yet there are only 250 agriculture teachers statewide. More are needed to meet the demand of secondary schools that want to start new pro- grams and to replace teachers about to retire. students. ne of the major problems facing agriculture is a lack of agricul— tural literacy in today‘s society, points out Susan A. Henry, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “The majority of the population is far removed from the food system and has little understanding of where food comes from or the scientific basis for food production,” she says. “Moreover, there is a lack of under— standing of the critical role agriculture plays in land stewardship and envi- ronmental sustainability.” Henry says that, for these reasons, it is vital that the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences play a role in agriculturai education in the 1.18b Corneli Focus Six thousand of New York's high schoolers currently participate in 160 programs throughout the state. Agriculture education is not confined to rural areas alone—there are programs in New York City, Albany, Buffalo, and Syracuse. broadest sense for all of our citizens. “It is particularly important that Our college take the lead in preparing edu- cators to fulfill the critical mission of bringing this understanding to society, enabling others to participate as liter- ate citizens,” she says. The Department of Education in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) is newly revitalized and has recently welcomed Bill Camp, Volume 12, Number 1 Fall 2003 I 23 "The majority of the population is far removed from the food system and has little understand- ing of where food comes from or the scientific basis for food production." I —Dean Susan A. Henry nationally known and respected pro- fessor of agricultural education, to its faculty. The department offers two professional degrees that prepare young men and women to become agriculture educators: the bachelor of science in agriculture education and the master of arts in teaching. The course of studies that leads to these degrees offers an experience available nowhere else. The hallmark of the college’s agri- culture education major within the Cornell Teacher Education (CTE) program is preparing new teachers to use an integrated approach to pre- senting mathematics and science in the context of a wide range of agri- culture-related subjects. “The notion of individual disci- plines isn’t going to hold up much longer in math and the sciences, let alone in agriculture,” says Rosemary Caffarella, chair of the Department of Education. “Discoveries in the field of genomics, for 'example, depend on integrating the biological sciences, mathematics, computer science, and engineering to the degree that no sin— gle discipline can function alone any- more.” Of the 88 colleges and universities I in the United States that certify agri- 24 I Cornell Focus Fall 2003 Volume 12, Number I culture education teachers, CALS— which admits up to 40 select students each year to its CTE program—«is the only one where math, science, and agricultural science education are taught in the same department. In addition, at the master’s level, stu- dents can receive dual certification in agriculture and either general science, earth science, or biology. Graduates .with dual certification are highly sought after by rural sChool districts with limited budgets. (Of New York State’s 686 school districts, 5 8 percent are classified as rural.) Agriculture teachers prepared in this way bring a new perspective to helping high school students understand science. Too often science is taught in the abstract, notes Donna Moore, coordi- nator of Agricultural Education Outreach for the CALS Department of Education and a graduate of Cornell’s 13.8. program in 1989 and 1.18c Rosemary Caffarella, chair of the college's Department of Education. says that Cornell Teacher Education students examine race, class, and gender issues, because social class and income have an enormous impact on learning. the M.A.T. program in 1993 in agri- cultural education. Through courses in aquaculture, metal working, equine management, and large engines, students see how science con— cepts work in the everyday world. Even highly abstract courses like Regents physics can be taught from an applied orientation. “In my agriculture applied physics class, I taught the principles of physics as they were imbedded in a motor that operates a tractor or bail- er,” says Moore, who also taught basic agriculture science, agriculture business, and environmental, animal, and plant science at Lowville Academy in Lowville, N.Y., from 1989 to 1996. ‘ “Connecting the concepts to the practical world offered a way for The hallmark of the college’s agriculture education major within the Cornell Teacher Education program is preparing new teachers NlCOLA KOUNTOUPESI'UNIVERSHY PHOTOGRAPHY these students to complete a senior science class—students who other- wise might nor,” Moore points out. Under a Board of Regents policy for Career and Technical Education, students can receive science credits in high school through taking courses such as plant science, environmental science, food production and process- ing, and animal science. Those cours- es, if completed in a State Education Department accredited agricultural science program, also fulfill the requirement for the fourth English and social studies credit and third math and science course credits to graduate with a Regents diploma. The applied nature of agriculture education is a benefit for some stu- dents who don’t find school a congen- ial place. “Kids who may not tradi- tionally stay in school find a home in applied courses,” Caffarella says. to use an integrated approach to presenting math and science in the context of a wide range of agriculture-related subjects. Agriculture education courses are classified as career and technical edu— cation electives, and many schools offer a wide diversity of subjects. At the Letchworth Central School, teacher Jeff Perry offers 20 semester- long courses. “Many of our students do not enjoy school but find a reason for attending in the occupational educa- tion programs,” Perry says. “They need the atypical course content and structure to help jump start their goals and dreams.” or only does the CTE pro- gram offer an integration of subjects, but it provides a method of training teachers that equips them to teach hands-on and minds-on science effec— tively. Many teachers don’t know how to teach in this way because inquiry science requires an entirely different way of thinking. Knowing the theoretical underpinnings of sci— ence and the scientific process isn’t enough, Caffarella says. 1.18d Leaders in Agricultural Education The New York Agricultural Education Leadership Council is a consortium of 15 institutions dedicated to deepening public understanding of the agricultural and food industry and increasing the effec- tiveness and accountability of agricultural education programs, among other objectives. CAIS’ Dean Susan A. Henry was one of the leaders in developing the council. the members are as follows: President, SUNY Cobleskill President, SUNY Morrisville President, SUNY Oswego President, SUNY Alired President. SUNY Delhi President, New York Farm Bureau President. NY Association of Agriculture Educators President, NYS School Boards Association Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University Chair. NY FFA Board of Trustees Chair, Council of Agricultural Organizations Commissioner of Education Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Chair. NYS Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, NYS Assembly Agriculture Committee Director. Cornell Cooperative Extension :2, Number 1 Fall 2003 i 25 25 I Cornell Focus “Graduates of our teacher training program aren’t given just a bag of tricks, they’re taught how to think about ways to connect high schoolers with what they are learning,” she adds. This happens when teachers know how to bring their curriculum to the experiences students already have—owning a pet, for example. “Then we take our teacher train- ing one step further,” Caffarella says, “by showing them how to self-evalu- ate, to change their practice to meet the needs of different students.” Dual certification with a specialty in teaching science as inquiry isn’t the only reason that the master of art in teaching is the most popular of C'I‘E’s degrees (26 students received M.A.'I'.s in 2002—2003). The course sequence saves students both time and money. When students graduate in educa- tion with a bachelor’s degree alone, they receive only initial certification and must complete their master’s degree within three years. “It is very difficult for most new teachers to start taking graduate courses so soon after embarking on such a demanding career,” Caffarella says. Volume l2, Number I Fall 2003 At Cornell, an undergraduate working on a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education, mathematics, or a science can begin taking educa- tion courses in their junior or senior year, including fieldwork that will prepare them for the classroom. Then in a fifth year they can devote the first semester to student teaching. The final semester is devoted to reflecting and building on their experience in the classroom, analyzing teaching strategies, and pursuing additional courses in their academic specialty. They then graduate with exceptional- ly grounded experience, teaching cer—' tification in hand. Students with bachelor’s degrees from other colleges;there were six in the 2002—2003 class—may need an additional year. (For those who decide during student teaching that the class- room is not for them, there is an option to switch into the department’s masters of professional studies pro- gram to prepare for careers with Cooperative Extension or in agribusi- ness.) 1.18e Students can also gain admission to CTE directly from the five State University of New York agricultural and technical colleges located in Cobleskill, Morrisville, Oswego, Alfred, and Delhi. Qualified students can enter the undergraduate program after Completing an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s of technology. In both cases they can continue on to corn— piete the M.A.T. “When we look at our successful teachers over time, many have come through this route,” Moore says. “Students with an associate’s degree in an agricultural major then transfer to the Cornell bachelor’s program and finish up with the master’s.” Graduates from CTE often end up being more than just teachers to their students. They often become leaders in their schools, helping other teach— ers change their teaching practices. “Our graduates are willing to share their experiences and work in collab~ orative ways,” Caffarella says. “Learning techniques for doing this, not just talking about it, is a require- ment in our department.” ornell agriculture education teachers are also looked up to because they carry a degree from one of the premier colleges of agriculture and life sciences in the country. “When you hold a degree from this caliber of institution, you have high credibility in the field,” Moore says. Students in the Department of Education take courses across the uni- versity, learning first-rate science from internationally recognized authorities in their fields. And because Cornell is a research university, students are often in the classes of researchers pushing at the edges of knowledge—m right there when new discoveries are made. The same holds true with faculty in the Department of Education, who specialize in conducting field—based research in areas including cultivating and sustaining critically reflective Students can also gain admission to CT E directly from the five‘State University of New York agricultural and technical schools located in Cobleskill, Morrisville, Oswego, Alfred, and Delhi. High school students learn about greenhouse management. global positioning systems, conservation. and metal working as part of the agriculture education curriculum. 1.18f ...
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Cornell - n early May, the 106 Potsdam High School students...

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