Ten high school agriculture teachers from Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Washington and Wyoming are attending the two-week national Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education Institute hosted on the McNeese State University campus in Lake Charles by the Harold and Pearl Dripps Agricultural Sciences Department.

At McNeese, the teachers are learning about agriculture, food and natural resources to enhance the student-learning experience of agricultural science subject matter for their classrooms back home, according to Chip LeMieux, department head.

CASE develops curriculum utilizing science inquiry for lesson foundation, and concepts are taught using activity-, project- and problem-based instructional strategies.

In addition to the curriculum aspect of CASE, the project ensures quality teaching by providing extensive professional development for teachers that leads to certification.

“Through its system of professional development, curriculum, assessment and certification, CASE equips teachers to elevate student experiences in the agriculture classroom and prepares students for success in college and careers emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math,” LeMieux said.

This is McNeese’s sixth year to participate in the CASE program.

Jessie Hartle Lumpkins, of Nashville, Tennessee, and Karen Van de Walle, of Dunkerton, Iowa, are the lead teachers for this year’s institute.

Van de Walle said she hopes that CASE helps ag science teachers find new and engaging ways in which to present project-based material into the classroom.

“We want to give our teachers the tools that will allow them to focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) content in their curricula,” Van de Walle said.

West Feliciana High teacher Paul Theriot, who teaches a variety of ag classes, said, “I have learned how to focus more on the STEM-based process and how to incorporate this into the agriculture curriculum.”

Sulphur High School ninth-grade campus teacher Dara Johnson, who is attending her first CASE program, teaches Agriculture I to more than 100 students and said she was excited about the new hands-on projects she can integrate into her classes.

Grace Godfrey, a teacher at Worland High School in Wyoming, is attending her first CASE Institute program.

“I teach horticulture, introduction to agriculture, animal science, agriculture business and agriculture mechanics. This institute offers me more inquiry-based information in the STEM areas to help me engage students to learn,” Godfrey said.

Mitchell Bell, from D.D. Eisenhower High in Yakima, Washington, said he’s excited to bring back to the classroom more hands-on activities in the areas of plant biology and introduction to agriculture that he teaches.