Dublin Villager

Grant will help intergrate agriculture with science

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Carol Warkentien (left), of the Ohio Soybean Council, presented a grant to Coffman High School teacher Donna Parker (middle) last week with Jamie Butts, DuPont Pioneer, to infuse agriculture biotechnology into the classroom.

Thanks to a grant, the familiarity of Dublin students with agriculture could extend beyond the concrete corn at the corner of Rings and Frantz roads.

Coffman High School teacher Donna Parker recently received a $3,744 grant from the Ohio Soybean Council and DuPont Pioneer to infuse agriculture biotechnology, or agtech, into the classroom.

Parker was eligible to receive the grant after attending an agtech academy with 25 other teachers from across the state over the summer.

Carol Warkentien, who handles education projects for the Ohio Soybean Council, said she received funding for the academy and the grants from DuPont Pioneer.

"The academy was professional development," said Jamie Butts, communications manager for DuPont Pioneer's northeast regional office.

"We brought science and agriculture teachers to central Ohio with the hopeful outcome of putting more agtech into the classroom."

During the two-day academy, teachers taught teachers lab experiments they could use in the classroom with students, Butts said.

The teachers at the academy then had the opportunity to apply for a grant and Parker was one of three chosen.

"Donna is in a suburban district where they're not teaching agriculture," Warkentien said of Parker winning one of the grants.

"There's a lot of opportunities for interactions in the building and in the district. Donna's a department chair and that gives her a voice."

Parker will use the grant money to purchase lab equipment to do experiments on items such as bacteria, enzymes and biofuel.

The equipment and kits can be shared with other classes too, she said.

"We can share with the environmental science class," Parker said, adding that students are currently creating biofuels in a chemistry class.

The kits will allow lessons that teach about agricul- ture.

"To me it is so important," Parker said. "Everyone needs to know where their food and clothing come from."

Students this year will have to make a meal for their parents with only local, in-season items, Parker said, but lessons will also extend beyond food.

One could look at how genetic engineering can help plants adjust to climate change, Parker said.

"I think that agriculture is the perfect way to teach science," she said. "It's an issue that isn't going away."

Teaching students about agriculture, could also give them a glimpse into a potential career field, Butts said.

"We're trying to get kids interested," she said. "It's not just about being a farmer or a scientist. There's a whole realm of job roles in agtech."

Students may do presentations for other schools after Parker gets a chance to test the new equipment; other Dublin high schools could use the new classroom items purchased with the grant money, she said.

"This is such a wonderful opportunity to do more for our kids," she said. "I'm trying to infuse this into the classroom and this will allow it in hard economic times."