(Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette)
Eugene Koch of McCook and Clayton Geisinger of Holdrege, representatives of Pioneer Hybrid International, presented a check for the grant award to FFA ag instructor and FFA sponsor Sarah Knutson and MHS FFA members Tuesday, Aug. 14.
Geisinger, a DuPont Pioneer account manager, said, "There are tremendous opportunities for young people in the field of agriculture, and science-based education will be crucial in this arena. We are proud to support projects such as these to enhance the essential experiences that students will need to be competitive in future careers."
Knutson attended a 10-day professional development session in Lincoln this summer to learn how to teach the "Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources" section of the "Curriculum for Ag Science Education" (CASE), the curriculum purchased with the DuPont grant.
"The key accomplishment of this project will be to have the students get excited about agriculture and science education." She continued, "The students will be able to see first-hand how science and agriculture relate. CASE is agriculture curriculum that is student-directed. This self-directed learning will also help them after they have graduated because they will have developed strong skills to take to a career in the future. I am hoping that the whole community can see how important science is in the agriculture classroom."
CASE is an instructional system that involves intense teacher professional development, inquiry-based, student-focused lessons, assessment and certification. CASE equips teachers to elevate student experiences in the ag classroom, and prepares students to succeed in college and careers emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math.
The CASE training that Knutson received included 80 hours working through nearly every lesson in the curriculum and learning how to deliver lessons in an inquiry-based way that will shift focus in the classroom from teacher-led to student-directed learning. Student-directed learning challenges students to learn and think in a new way, according to Knutson.
Knutson said, "This was a great professional development to attend. Networking with some of the best agriscience teachers in the state gave me a lot of ideas to take back to my classroom this fall."
Knutson believes that CASE will help implement science methods, strategies and laboratories into the ag curriculum, offering reinforcement of skills taught in corresponding science, math and language arts classes, as well as incorporating more science, technology, engineering and math concepts.
Knutson attended the conference with the assistance of a Nebraska Soybean Board scholarship which requires her to create curriculum to link CASE lessons with soybean production in Nebraska. This curriculum will be distributed later in the school year as lessons, or individuals can contact Knutson for the developed lessons.
Through Knutson's attendance at the CASE training, McCook Public Schools is one of the first schools certified to use the CASE curriculum in Nebraska.
For more information about CASE, go to www.case4learning.org
For more information about DuPont Pioneer, visit www.pioneer.com
DuPont Pioneer is the world's leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics, providing high-quality seeds to farmers in more than 90 countries. Pioneer provides agronomic support and services to help increase farmer productivity and profitability, and strives to develop sustainable agricultural services.
DuPont has brought world-class science and engineering to the global marketplace in the form of innovative products, materials and services since 1802. The company's focus on collaborating with customers, governments and leaders helps find solutions to global challenges including providing enough health food for people everywhere, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels and protecting life and the environment.