Everyone knows program budgets are tight these days. It seems like every school board and staff meeting contains at least one more cut that you, the teacher, has to make while still providing the same level of services to a growing student body. That's why the sticker price of CASE can give some people a little heartburn.
"When teachers start to figure up the cost of attending a CASE Institute, purchasing things like LabQuests and sensors, equipment and consumables, the numbers can get high pretty quickly," said Miranda Chaplin, CASE Operations Coordinator. "That can be a little scary until they realize all the means available to offset those costs."
Many teachers find things like equipment sharing and training money available from their school greatly reduces their program's out-of-pocket CASE expenses, but another way to make CASE more affordable is by applying for and receiving an implementation grant or CASE Institute scholarship.
This year, through the generosity of five sponsors, CASE awarded 107 scholarships for teachers to attend CASE Institutes, some of which even covered travel. In addition to scholarships, DuPont Pioneer awarded $75,000 to teachers through their CASE implementation grant program. That funding allowed 32 teachers to purchase equipment and supplies from the CASE store and paid for 312 end-of-course student assessment accounts.
It seems that agribusinesses are recognizing the potential CASE has to create the kind of graduates they need, and are stepping up to help schools make it available.
"Feeding the world will require that more students understand agriculture and become future leaders in food and agriscience," said Michelle Gowdy, director of Community & Academic Relations for DuPont Pioneer. "We are working with others in education and in agriculture to ensure teachers have the best tools at their disposal to get more kids excited about agriculture and careers in agriscience."
In addition, numerous states, including Kansas, Washington, New Jersey, Iowa and Maryland have provided funding for their teachers to attend a CASE Institute and become certified to teach the CASE curriculum.
Chris Kaufman, an agriculture teacher in Indiana, received a CASE Institute Scholarship from Dow AgroSciences this year. Kaufman, who spent a year working for the Indiana Department of Education before returning to the classroom to start an urban agriscience program, has been instrumental in encouraging other agricultural educators in Indiana to adopt CASE. Indiana doesn't have an official agriculture curriculum, so teachers in the state are left to their own devices to put something together.
"Teachers aren't trained to be curriculum writers," he said. "CASE helps us with the consistency, the sequencing of courses and scaffolding that we need." He said the response to the scholarship programs from Indiana teachers was very good. Those scholarships will allow teachers to put a consistent, standardized curriculum in place that is co-curriculuar with science. Kaufman believes this will help administrators re-discover the value of agricultural education programs in their schools.
As CASE continues to grow, its coordinators plan to continue to expand its scholarship and grant programs. However, for people who want to implement CASE now, there are ways. "The money for CASE is out there," said Chaplin. "You just have to look, ask and apply."