Mitch Davis, a North Hall High School agriculture teacher, became a student again for the summer.
Davis recently traveled to Chestertown, Maryland, to learn teaching tools he can use in his agriculture classroom and completed the DuPont National AgriScience Teachers Ambassador Academy.
The “Ag Academy” is a professional development institute for agriculture teachers, designed to provide these teachers with engaging activities for students.
“It’s classroom management and classroom education using a process called inquiry-based learning,” Davis said. “You’re not just giving kids information, you’re presenting them with a question and they have to find the way to answer.”
The process is about developing students’ knowledge and problem-solving ability, Davis said.
“With students now, we’re moving toward experiential learning, or learning through real-life situations and examples,” Davis said. “Through this process, you present real-life scenarios or things kids might see in the real world and you build on that, so hopefully they build more problem-solving abilities along with the information you’re giving them.”
The Ag Academy allowed Davis and the other 322 participating teachers from across the nation to be students for a week on DuPont’s 3,300-acre working farm.
Davis also visited labs and visited scientists and engineers to learn about global food security, food safety, global water issues and solar energy solutions, according to a release from DuPont.
The program gave Davis several lessons he can bring back to his own classroom.
“In my classroom I’ll be more likely to use animal examples and do labs that test different things,” he said. “One test we did was a urinalysis lab, where you take simulated urine samples and the kids test them like you would in a vet office. Then they try to diagnose the animals based on that.”
As a graduate of the Ag Academy, Davis is also now an ambassador for the program, and he will help educate other agriscience teachers across the nation.
“We recognize the impact great teachers make,” said Rik Miller, president of DuPont Crop Protection, in a release. “Agriscience teachers can create the inspiration and passion in students now that will inspire them to make the game-changing breakthroughs in agriculture and nutrition needed to feed the world in the next 30 years.”
Davis said, while he’s done professional development before, the Ag Academy was the first industry-based exercise he’s done. Even better, he was selected from a list of applicants for the program and was able to participate at zero cost.
“The Ag Academy has been an eye-opening experience,” said Davis. “With a wealth of new knowledge, materials and resources, I’m eager to start preparing my classroom curriculum and share what I’ve learned with my students and other teachers.”