Gwen Boettcher, agriscience teacher at DeForest Area High School successfully completed the 15th annual National Agriscience Teachers Ambassador Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Upon completing the program, Boettcher became an Agriscience Teacher Ambassador, joining the other 369 outstanding agriscience teachers from across the country who have earned that designation.
The National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy is a professional development institute sponsored by Corteva AgriScience™ Agriculture Division of DowDuPont™, and managed by the National Association of Agricultural Educators. Selection is a highly competitive process, with agricultural educators from across the United States applying for a limited number of annual openings. Those selected become ambassador candidates who attend the academy in Tulsa to learn about inquiry-based teaching methods as well as how to draw out the science that is already present in many agriculture topics. Those who successfully complete the academy will be designated as Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors.
The academy’s hands-on approach is designed to energize teachers and make them comfortable enriching their classes when they return home. “We want our ambassadors to leave this experience equipped to create irresistible learning experiences for their students,” said Alissa Smith, NAAE Associate Executive Director, and NATAA program coordinator. “Inquiry-based teaching methods challenge students to ask why, and give them the tools to discover the answers for themselves.”
By emphasizing science, NATAA helps teachers create learning environments that prepare students for STEM careers, (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), a field that is currently in high demand.
“Agriculture teachers are often trained to be generalists,” said Smith, “which means they may not have had as much experience with the terminology and methods that are involved in teaching really rigorous science lessons. The academy, and the continued training ambassadors receive, helps them get comfortable with drawing out what is already present in agriculture and helping students understand its real-life application.”
Since its inception in 2002, Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors and the teachers they have trained have impacted well over a million students across the United States, from Puerto Rico to Alaska. Furthermore, Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors conduct workshops around the U.S. to share the same concepts with other science and agricultural educators. More than 2,000 educators have been trained by Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors.
The National Association of Agricultural Educators is a federation of state agricultural educator associations with more than 8,000 members. Currently NAAE is focusing on advocacy for agricultural education as well as professional development for and recruitment and retention of agricultural educators. NAAE offers a variety of programs and services to support this mission.