Ever wondered how other ag educators make room in their budgets for CASE curricula? The organization offers scholarships through partnerships with industry leaders to encourage young ag teachers to attend one of its summer institutes, during which he or she receives CASE curriculum-based professional development. In fact, this summer's round of scholarship and grant winners was announced in April, and more than $400,000 in funding was contributed by DuPont Pioneer, Mosaic, Dow AgroSciences, Red Brand and Impact FFA.
Cacee Ford, an agriscience instructor and FFA advisor at Baker County High School in Glen St. Mary, Fla., was one such scholarship recipient in 2012. She says she had a "most incredible experience" at the 2012 Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR) CASE Institute in Nebraska. Her scholarship allowed her to travel to the conference, get to know other agriculture teachers, and learn more about their respective states' industries.
"As a first-year teacher, I was honored to be awarded money to be able to afford to attend the institute," says Ford, who was sponsored by Mosaic. "It made me feel that my professional organization looks to both young and experienced ag teachers for professional development opportunities."
Still, while Ford is thrilled to have the chance to receive the exposure to the institute, she had to pay for any projects that she did this past year out of her own pocket.
But in true resourceful ag educator fashion, a lack of classroom resources didn't stop her.
"I am in the beginning stages of implementing the AFNR curriculum," she notes. "(Neither) my program nor my school allocated any funds toward equipment, so I have had to personally purchase materials all year long. I did conduct a fundraiser to raise money for equipment for next year to help."
After all, in Ford's book, the ends justify the means.
"Teaching the AFNR course lessons five times daily to my five Ag Foundations classes has been highly beneficial," she adds. "My students who took the biology end-of-course exam passed because of this science-based curriculum. Their test scores are proof of that."
Would Ford recommend the institute to others? The answer is a resounding "yes!"
"The training I received has been invaluable," she says. "All in all, (it was) a tremendous experience (that has) helped me survive and flourish in my first year of teaching."
CASE, recognizing the need for more in-class funding, is worked with DuPont Pioneer this year to provide 32 grants to purchase CASE equipment. The CASE- DuPont Pioneer partnership also provided 312 student assessment accounts to 10 teachers.