As agriculture teachers, we already have a perfect environment to foster inquiry and critical thinking. We also know that in our hands-on programs, we can reinforce the science concepts students are learning in their core classes. The National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy (NATAA) is a NAAE program designed to help teachers like you enhance these parts of your teaching strategy.
Over the last 10 years, the NATAA has cultivated teachers’ ability to enhance the agriscience and inquiry-based learning in agricultural education. Each year, the NATAA selects a small group of agriculture teachers from across the nation. These participants spend a week strengthening their skills in inquiry-based instruction and enhancing the science already present in agriculture.
Agriculture teachers in the academy are able to experience inquiry-based instruction through role-playing exercises as both teacher and student while they complete various laboratory experiments. As the participants learn to use these new approaches in their classrooms, they are able to have a better understanding of classroom dynamics and how to better implement inquiry in their instruction.
For Jessica Grundy, agriculture teacher at Wayne High School in Utah, the NATAA was a refreshing professional development experience that has helped her program flourish.
“NATAA was by far the best training I have ever attended,” she said. “The rigor, inquiry learning and management strategies benefited my program greatly. With the concepts from NATAA I was able to incorporate new strategies in my classroom and move my program to the next level. NATAA is a rejuvenating program that allowed me to network with some amazing educators from across the country. The best part is that you become part of a bigger family system, who is there to help you become your best, so your students are given the best.”
There are three primary goals for the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy:
- Provide teachers with educational resources and inquiry-based teaching skills to implement science-based activities in the classroom for environmental science, food science, sustainability and ag biological sciences.
- Share lesson plans, laboratory exercises and teaching strategies in order to improve the resources available to teaching agriscience.
- Train and influence the next generation and future employees who will advance agricultural sciences to the next level
Kurt VanDeWalle, agriculture teacher at Fillmore Central High School, in Nebraska, is another NATAA participant whose agriculture program was profoundly impacted by the extensive inquiry training he received.
“NATAA provides teachers not only the tools and theory that supports agriscience inquiry-based learning, but also devotes time to put the tools to use and time to discuss the theory. This combination provides teachers the capabilities to incorporate inquiry-based learning across their current agriscience curriculum, which can rejuvenate both the teacher and the curriculum. For me, the classroom and student management practices taught at NATAA established more structure and consistency in my program. Teachers who complete the training are ready to be more efficient and effective, no matter their teaching level prior to NATAA.”
Following their training, the teachers who participate in the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy are considered ambassadors. Ambassadors put their new skills to work by presenting workshops to other agriscience teachers. These happen at both National FFA Convention and NAAE Convention and at local, state, and regional conferences.
Are you interested in participating in the academy? The application for the 2017 program is now available. This year’s academy is tentatively scheduled for the week of July 17-21. Follow this link for more information and to apply. The application deadline is March 30.
For additional information about the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy, please contact Alissa Smith at 1-800-509-0204 or email@example.com .