By: Taylor Demski
Associate Professor and Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Programs Tracy Rutherford, Ph.D., and graduate student Holli Leggette were recognized for their teaching merit at the North American Colleges & Teachers of Agriculture conference this June in River Falls, Wisconsin.
Rutherford, Leggette and AGCJ Academic Advisor Tobin Redwine attended the conference to represent the ALEC department and to share their research.
Rutherford received the Teacher Fellow Award at this year’s conference. This award was created to recognize individuals whose efforts represent the very best in agricultural higher education. Rutherford’s work in the classroom is recognized by her students and coworkers. “This award acknowledges teachers who are innovative and engaging that students relate to and I think that describes Dr. Rutherford,” says Redwine.
Leggette was presented with the Graduate Student Teaching Award. This award distinguishes graduate students in agriculture who excel as teachers. Leggette notes that her success as a teacher stems from positive experiences she has had with her own teachers. “I’ve had some great high school teachers, college professors and it’s just an opportunity for me to give back. At the end of the day, it’s not about the awards that you win, it’s about the lives that you impact,” says Leggette.
In addition to being recognized, the group also shared research and networked with other agriculture teachers and students from around the country.
Rutherford presented research on Second Life, a three dimensional virtual world that is an emerging online teaching environment. Leggette shared research on incorporating social media and virtual worlds into education, and Redwine shared research on using a press conference simulation as a teaching tool. Each study had multiple contributors and researchers, from the ALEC department and other institutions.
After attending the conference professionals are able to see new trends in teaching agriculture that have to do with technology and keeping an emphasis on students. Conference attendees looked at ways to better incorporate technology into the classroom and non-formal settings.
“NACTA is unique because we all have a common goal there, we all want to be better teachers. We are able to talk about our students and what we can do to make our students education better. NACTA helps us take a stance on the importance of teaching.” Leggette said.
NACTA’s mission is to provide all teachers of agriculture with a forum for discussion of questions and issues relating to professional advancement of agricultural instruction, as well as to encourage, promote, and reward instructional excellence in agriculture and the research supporting this instruction.