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North Carolina ag education team attends National Agriscience Integration Institute

The North Carolina contingent to the first National Agriscience Integration Institute (NAII) included, left to right, Cathy Berrier, Mike Bartholomew, Lendy Johnson, Joshua Bledsoe and Horace Johnson. NAII is designed to promote and enhance opportunities for inquiry-based science in environmental and agricultural education system programs.

N.C. State University was well represented as a North Carolina team of five teachers and administrators involved in agriculture education was among 41 state education officials and agriculture teachers from 11 states attending the first National Agriscience Integration Institute (NAII). The institute, held in Iowa Aug. 9-13, was designed to promote and enhance opportunities for inquiry-based science in environmental and agricultural education system programs, student attainment of science content standards and national agriculture content standards.

NAII is an extension of the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy (NATAA), held annually at the DuPont-owned Chesapeake Farms, Chestertown, Md. The Academy is a professional development program where agriculture teachers learn new inquiry-based teaching techniques to improve science learning. More than 90 teachers from all across the United States have attended NATAA in the past seven years. Both NAII and the Academy are DuPont-sponsored programs.

Those attending from North Carolina -- all alumni of N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) -- included Joshua Bledsoe, state agricultural education leader/state FFA advisor, CALS, NCSU; Horace Johnson, central region agricultural education coordinator, CALS, NCSU; Cathy S. Berrier, Agricultural Educator/FFA Advisor Academy of Biotechnology Instructor Ledford Senior High School, Thomasville; Mike Bartholomew, agriscience teacher at Southern Nash High School, Bailey; and Lendy Johnson, CALS/NCSU graduate student in agriculture and extension education.

Agriculture teachers must be graduates of NATAA to be invited to be a part of NAII held in Johnston, Iowa, on the campus of DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred. “The exciting aspect of this training is that it has been designed as a state team agriculture education approach,” said Larry Gossen, NAII manager and senior team leader for state relations with the National FFA. “The goal is to make a positive impact on the integration of science and use of inquiry-based instruction in 10 to12 states annually, utilizing the team agriculture education concept.”

The overall expectation is that the state agriscience integration (SAI) team will develop a plan for integrating agriscience and inquiry-based instruction to their state agriculture education instructors. Three or more persons make up an SAI team, including at least one experienced agriscience teacher, a university teacher-educator, and a state education staff person. Because of the size of the teams, a maximum of 10-12 state teams are accepted each year. Within four to five years, all 50 states will have a state agriscience integration team.

In addition to North Carolina, teams attending this year come from Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin.

In addition to four days of intensive training on inquiry-based instruction, the objectives of the NAII training include:

  • Develop a professional working relationship with university teacher-educators, agriscience teacher ambassadors and agricultural education state staff in promoting inquiry-based instruction used in the agriscience classroom.
  • Develop a state professional development plan for agriscience ambassadors, agricultural education state staff and teacher educators to train all teachers in their states on inquiry-based instruction.
  • Provide assistance in developing and/or converting existing lessons into inquiry-based lesson plans and make available to agricultural education teachers and science teachers.
“Science, agriculture and DuPont is a natural association. This is the 61st year that DuPont has been actively associated with the FFA. I am pleased that DuPont and the FFA can join forces to for this program and help advance agriculture science,” said James C. Collins, Jr., vice president and general manager - DuPont Crop Protection and member of the FFA national board of directors.

The National FFA Organization, with more than 507,000 members operates under a Federal Charter granted by the 81st Congress of the United States. FFA membership offers students opportunities that change lives and prepares students for premier leadership, personal growth and career success. The FFA organization represents a large diversity of more than 300 careers in the food, fiber and natural resources industry.

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, is the world's leading source of customized solutions for farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors. With headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer provides access to advanced plant genetics in nearly 70 countries.

DuPont is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets, including agriculture and food, building and construction, communications, and transportation.—DuPont release