PELLA — Twenty-four teachers recently attended a two-day workshop as professional development to help improve their classroom curricula.
The workshop was held in Pella and included tours of agriculture sites as well as hands-on lesson demonstrations.
Teachers in attendance represented Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, Interstate 35, Knoxville, Mid-Prairie, Oskaloosa, Oskaloosa Christian, Ottumwa, PCM, Pella, Seymour, and Twin Cedars school districts.
Teachers are responsible for continuing education and recertification. The workshops provided credits for teachers and showcased activities aligned to science standards and social studies standards using agriculture as examples to make learning relevant to students.
When asked what she hoped to gain from the course, Kristy Huerter of Pella Community Schools said, “Although my district is in the middle of Iowa, I don't feel as if students have very many real-life experiences with agriculture and its diversity. I would like to learn how to better incorporate these into my classroom.”
The first day of the workshop included hands-on lesson plans that teachers could use with their students. The inquiry-based learning approach encouraged teachers to better understand robotics in agriculture, precision farming, and solar energy. They also participated in a tour of Vermeer manufacturing and Lely manufacturing. They learned about nutrients in the soil and plants with resources from Nutrients for Life.
The second day included a tour of the Ver Meer family farm where they learned about soil testing and row crop production from an Iowa State University agronomist. The tour day also included Two Rivers Cooperative where they learned about commodities marketing and mixing feed rations for livestock.
Teachers were able to see precision agriculture equipment on a family soybean farm including drones, GPS, auto-steer tractors, and precision application of fertilizer and seed. Finally, the tour day wrapped up learning about solar energy production and its use in agricultural operations like with the powering of swine barns including lights, fans, computers, and feed augers.
“I appreciated opening our eyes to the future jobs for our students! Agriculture is a huge field where many of our students can find a job and use the skills they enjoy - there will be a huge need for their skills and we have to open that door for them,” said Jenessa Kaisand, a teacher at Oskaloosa Christian Schools.
Susan Sheeks from Newton Community School District said, “The tours helped to solidify my learning and I really enjoyed the farms. [They] did an excellent job of showing how important technology is to his farm and how he has used it to make everything more precise. It really is impressive how much farming has changed even in the last 5 years.”
The workshop was organized through a joint effort between the Mahaska County Farm Bureau, Marion County Farm Bureau, Monroe County Farm Bureau, Keokuk County Farm Bureau, and the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. License renewal and graduate credits were available to teachers who attended the workshop. The workshop was financially supported in part by the BNSF Railway Foundation and Bayer.
About the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation
IALF serves as a central resource for educators and volunteers who want to teach Iowa’s students about agriculture. The mission is to educate Iowans, with a focus on youth, regarding the breadth and global significance of agriculture. Iowa is a leading producer of agricultural products that are essential to feed a growing world population, estimated to reach more than 9 billion by 2050. IALF believes it is important for all Iowans to understand the essential role agriculture has in their lives.
Through Agriculture in the Classroom efforts, IALF engages with teachers and students. IALF is supported by a number of agricultural stakeholders, including the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, CHS Foundation, DuPont Pioneer, Farm Credit Services of America, GROWMARK, the Iowa Beef Industry Council, the Iowa Energy Center, and Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area. For more information visit IALF online at www.IowaAgLiteracy.org, on Facebook, and Twitter.