Thursday, August 28, 2014

PSU CASE Institute: The Host School Perspective from Cumberland Valley! #case14asp

As the summer was winding down, the Center for Professional Personnel Development and the Cumberland Valley Agriculture Department were putting the finishing touches on the plans to host a Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) Summer Institute. The institute hosted this year was Agricultural Science--Plant to complement the previous institutes offered in 2012 (Agricultural Science-Animal) and 2013 (Introduction to AFNR), respectively. With 17 Agriscience teachers from 7 states registered and 2 fantastic lead teachers in place, #case14asp hit the ground running on August 3rd and continued until August 13th.

CASE is a one-of-a-kind curriculum that shifts the classroom towards student-based learning and inquiry-based instruction where students apply critical thinking skills and problem-solving each and every day in the classroom.  Students are challenged to take control of their learning and become an active member of the learning community.  For many agriculture programs, this curriculum is implemented to increase the rigor and relevance of agricultural science while preparing students for diverse careers in the field of technical agriculture.

A unique professional development experience in itself, CASE institutes equip teachers with the content they will teach by employing 2 Lead Teachers that guide participants through key Activities, Projects, and Problems that make up the curriculum. Certified CASE teachers have seen the curriculum through a student's eyes and have completed the lab activities and projects firsthand to lead their classes with confidence through the new content. Rather than leaving with a binder full of worksheets, answer keys and video clips, teachers are prepared to develop an engaging classroom environment and lead students in inquiry-based lessons.

New this year to the CASE arsenal is CASE Online, a resource available to certified CASE teachers. This system provides students and teachers an online method to communicate while completing coursework and share course assignments and assessments. End-of-course assessments and review question banks are now available through this platform for teachers already implementing CASE curriculum.

In addition to learning the curriculum and about available resources, CASE workshops are an excellent opportunity for new and beginning teachers to gain "tricks of the trade" from experienced lead teachers and colleagues with years of teaching under their belt. During several lab activities, participants would volunteer their expertise and provide value-added classroom extension projects that were successful in their past classes. This professional collaboration is often a driving factor in motivating teachers to return to CASE institutes each summer to increase the rigor and relevance of their classes and prepare students for employment in the 21st century food and fiber industry.

Although the end of the institute came way too quickly, the friendships, partnerships, and camaraderie developed at this institute will continue to grow as the 17 certified CASE teachers will communicate throughout the school year and work together through classroom challenges. I look forward to see how my fellow participants will implement CASE in their classrooms this upcoming year and how many students will be impacted through the CASE program into the future.

For more information on available CASE curriculum, CASE Online, and upcoming CASE pilot courses, please visit

To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes a positive impact on the lives of students across the globe by becoming an agricultural educator, please contact the agricultural teacher education program at Follow us on Twitter at TeachAgPSU, on Facebook, or on our blog
Darla Romberger
Cumberland Valley Agriculture Science Teacher
Guest Blogger
Current PSU M.S. Student
2014 PSU Student Teacher


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I'm On The Road Not Taken... (#TeachAg, #Global, #AGEDU)

Hello!  My name is Nicole Weaver and I appreciate you stopping in to read my first blog post! I am a new mom (my 3 1/2 month old son is sleeping in my arms as I write this!), a wife, a teacher, an advocate of global school-based agriculture education, and an aspiring amateur chef!  If you will be patient, I'd like to tell you a little about myself and why I'm here!

I was not a typical kid.  I watched Grease every day after school and knew the lyrics to every Queen and Pink Floyd song when I was 8.  Other kids wanted to be doctors and lawyers and I wanted to be the next Jaques Cousteau - at least until a touched a dolphin for the first time. I was not a typical kid.

I wasn't a typical College of Ag. Sciences student either. I took random classes like Linguistics (which I highly recommend!) and French Cinema (which I also highly recommend) because they "sounded fun."  I was an Animal Biosciences major my freshman year and sort of "fell" into the Agricultural & Extension Education major - I'm honestly not sure how it happened, but I'm glad I did!  The other AEE majors all came from farms or some agriculture background - I grew up down the road from a farm and helped my grandparents make jars of our ancient family tomato sauce recipe. I worked with PGSAS (Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Agricultural Sciences) and traveled to Ukraine and Poland to do farm tours. I also acted in and stage managed several theatrical productions during my 5 years. I graduated from PSU in 2004 with a degree in AEE and two minors - International Agriculture & Theatre.  I was not a typical college kid.

And now?  Well for the past 10 years, I've been an atypical Ag. Teacher.  I luckily found Twin Valley High School in Berks County, PA. They "get" my atypical-ness and encourage it!  When CASE (Curriculum for Agriculture Science Education) was brand new, they paid for me to attend one of the first training sessions.  I became the first teacher in PA to be certified in CASE. I teach about soil science and floriculture by day, and advise Theatre Arts Club and produce the school's spring musical by night - and this past school year I choreographed the show (while pregnant!) as well. I'm not a typical Ag. Science Teacher.

See a trend? Well now, I get to add a new role to my professional quirkiness: PSU Global TeachAg! Fellow. I'm the first of my kind! My school (Twin Valley) was kind enough to grant me a semester of educational leave to complete my M.Ed, and PSU Center for Professional Personnel Development in the Agricultural and Extension Education Program in the College of Ag. Sciences was gracious enough to offer me a full-time graduate student experience and internship. Now, I get to take my passion for International Agriculture and utilize it to further global school-based agricultural education in secondary schools in PA.

This semester I hope to create new links between teachers and students from all over the world and create a system where our students are learning about agriculture on a broad scope. I want to create an open dialogue with professionals from diverse backgrounds and our students to get them asking important questions about global agriculture and how we are going to use our knowledge to solve the dilemmas that face our planet.  I hope to offer you, my reader, some new ideas; if you are a teacher, I'd like to give you resources to implement global agriculture education in your classroom; if you are a high school student, I'd like to open your mind and challenge you to think outside your realm of comfort; if you are a professional, I'd like to inspire you to think globally, and encourage you to develop global competency; and in general, I hope to entertain and educate you.

I like that I'm not your typical Agriculture Science Teacher or PSU graduate student. I like that my passion in Global Agriculture could create great change and growth in our state. Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" has always been an inspiration to me and I think it's perfectly fitting now - to create global competency and the ability for agriculture globally to serve our population, we need to take the road less traveled. We need to be brave. We need to be quirky. I'm on the road less traveled and I hope you'll join me on this journey. 

Wanna chat global school-based agricultural education?  Follow me on Twitter (@TeamWeaverFever), e-mail me ( or comment on this blog!  I hope to hear from you!

Agriculturally yours,


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Turn Down For What?! #newbeginnings #agedu

On behalf of the Student Blogging Team, we would like to welcome everyone back to the new school year! Whether you are starting as a newbie freshman or a spunky senior, a former student or a perspective student, a past or current agriculture educator or an interested onlooker we know that this year is going to be a blast and we invite you to follow along with us! 

Check out this blog throughout the year to see what is going on in the world of Agriculture Education here at Penn State. You can also see the incredible impact the current and past students are having throughout the state and across the country! 

To start off this semester, we would like to introduce ourselves!

Hello! My name is Olivia Murphy-Sweet (@OSweetMurph) and I am a junior this year at University Park! I am super excited to be back and hoping to make a lot of memories with our awesome 'ag ed' team, I am currently a Teach Ag Avenger, the community service chair of Teach Ag Society, as well as, I was just selected to be a National Teach Ag Ambassador! Even though this year is going to be busy, I know that it is going to go by quickly and that only leads into student teaching. I can't wait to bring my passion of agriculture to the 'real world'!

I'm Laura Metrick (@Its_LauraBeth) and I am excited to be starting my senior year at one of the greatest universities in the world! It's hard to believe this will be my last year in State College but I am excited for what the future holds. I am a current Teach Ag Avenger, a member of Alpha Tau Alpha and the Vice President of the Teach Ag Society. This spring I will be student teaching at Conneaut Area Senior High with Ellen Aurand! I am looking forward to another great semester where Olivia and I, as the student bloggers, will get to share with you all the exciting things happening in the world of Agriculture Education! 

We hope this blog will show you the incredible success stories of the Penn State Agriculture and Extension Education Program. If you have any ideas, suggestions, or want to share the AWESOME things that you have done, or are going to do, please email us at, We always welcome Guest BLOGGERS! 
We hope to hear from you!

To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes a positive impact on the lives of students across the globe by becoming an agricultural educator, please contact the agricultural teacher education program at Follow us on Twitter at TeachAgPSU, on Facebook, or on our blog

Olivia Murphy-Sweet &
Laura Metrick 

Student Bloggers

Not Your Average Student Internship! #branchingout

All throughout this summer we have been interviewing students in the Agriculture Education major about their internships! This particular student is not an Agriculture Education Major but, he has completed an awesome internship that students might be interested in! Benjamin Nason, a junior at Penn State spent his summer at a community garden working in the garden as well as working in their lab!

Ben is studying to be a Horticulture Major with a science emphasis and is minors include; Entomology, Biology, Mushroom Science, and Technology! As you can see from his vast amount of skills and knowledge, he was well equipped to work for this community garden! His main jobs for his internship are wide ranging.He helps manage the garden overall which includes taking care of equipment and site management. One of his main projects that he has been working on for most of the summer is helping to assemble a new teaching pollinator garden. It focuses on native plants in support of the diminishing native pollinator species!

Although he works in the garden every day, he has been able to perfect his people skills and his time management. He states: The community garden is an amazing place for people to gather over plants, soil, and the outdoors. In my time there and with the few conversations I have had with members, this is the most diverse and interesting group of people I have ever met."

Ben has had a great summer and is excited to come back to Penn State for school to finish his studies! If you would like to know more about the community garden, you can contact him though his email at
To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes a positive impact on the lives of students across the globe by becoming an agricultural educator, please contact the agricultural teacher education program at Follow us on Twitter at TeachAgPSU, on Facebook, or on our blog

 Olivia Murphy-Sweet
Student Blogger
Teach Ag! Avenger
Twitter Handle- @OSweetMurph
2016 Agricultural Education Student Teacher

Monday, August 11, 2014

Governor School (#PGSAS14) going Global! #globalag

Remember when you were a kid and you went to a summer camp? Either your parents forced you leave or you wanted to actually go? Well, these 27 academically talented students from all across Pennsylvania were selected to go away for four weeks to Penn State’s University Park campus for Governor’s School for the Agricultural Sciences! This is the first time that this program has been opened since 2008!

Students from all around Pennsylvania have traveled to Penn State to learn about what the College of Ag has to offer. The students have four weeks to see if Penn State is right for them as well as if they truly do want to major in agriculture. One class was taught by the AEE program about Global Agriculture! Directed and facilitated by Dr. Daniel Foster and Dr. Melanie Foster, they took 8 volunteers to help create and then teach their own individual lesson plans that related to global agriculture! With four undergrads and four graduate students, two of which were international students, was the perfect blend for this week long class!  


Outlined below is the classes that were taught and by who! 

Students touring the greenhouse
Monday: Taught by Amanda Forstater (@CityAggie)

“Chocolate from Cacao to Bar”

This was the first class where Amanda challenged the students to think about the entire process of how chocolate.  They used the scientific process to hypothesize and then were rewarded with two different chocolate bars from different countries! 

Trying Indian Cuisine! YUM! 
Tuesday: Taught by Roshan Nayak (Ph.D candidate)

“Importance of Food in Your Life”

The students were able to study food systems and nutritional values! They played games to see what foods go in a balanced diet and what farm life was in India! Since Roshan is from India, he was able to give an insight of what life is actually like! The students were also able to dine on some local Indian food! 

Students dressing in traditional Korean attire

Wednesday: Taught by Janae Bickhart (@JanaeBickhart)

“Global Competency”

The students really focused on what the definition of “global competency” was and as well as learn about Korea! Since Janae was one of the students on the trip she brought a “study abroad” experience to the classroom! The students were able to try sample native foods such as  a kimichi, paint fans, and even dress in traditional Korean clothes!  

Learning definitions! 

Thursday: Taught by Stacia Creed (@stacia_creed)

“Food Security”

The students learned a lot with this lesson because they had to do an experiment to feed everyone in their group on a tight budget with a typical American price tag. The students said that they were surprised about how much food actually costs to feed a group of people! 

During the week long instruction, the students were also able to do two labs!

Lab One: Taught by Nur Husna Abd Wahid (Ph. D candidate)

“Malaysian Dancing”

For this lab the students were able to strut their stuff to see if they can dance the traditional dances of the Malaysian culture! There are videos if you click on this link!

Students completing the Amazing Race!
Lab Two: Taught by Olivia Murphy-Sweet (@OSweetMurph)

“Smart Goals and the Amazing Race!”

For this lab, the students learned about SMART goals (how to make them and what they wanted to do). They were also able to go on an Amazing Race tour around campus to learn  about what global programs that Penn State has to offer. 

Overall, the facilitators and the students had a great time! We hope that they learned a lot and that they come back to be Penn Staters! If you also want to check out a blog that the students wrote about their time with the class you can check out what they had to say here


To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes a positive impact on the lives of students across the globe by becoming an agricultural educator, please contact the agricultural teacher education program at Follow us on Twitter at TeachAgPSU, on Facebook, or on our blog

 Olivia Murphy-Sweet
Student Blogger
Teach Ag! Avenger
Twitter Handle- @OSweetMurph
2016 Agricultural Education Student Teacher