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Published on July 31st, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


District Five teacher named national AgriScience Ambassador

Pictured: John “Sim” Asbill, Center for Advanced Technical Studies agriscience teacher.

CHAPIN – A Lexington-Richland School District Five teacher has recently completed a prestigious national teachers’ academy, earning him the designation of certified “AgiScience Ambassador.”

Center for Advanced Technical Studies instructor John “Sim” Asbill was one of 48 teachers completing this year’s National AgriScience Teachers Ambassador Academy. The program, sponsored and hosted by global chemical and science conglomerate DuPont, included teaching strategies for participants in a dual farm and classroom approach on DuPont’s 3,300-acre working farm. Ambassadors also had an opportunity to talk one-on-one with the company’s engineers and scientists about trends in global food security, food safety, global water supplies and other agriculture-related issues.

“I am extremely proud and honored to be one of only around 50 agricultural educators nationwide to get the opportunity to participate in the DuPont academy,” Asbill said. “I appreciate the value DuPont has for educators, and I learned a tremendous amount from the program.  It has allowed me to truly evaluate my lessons and instruction and match it to what I want my students to be able to accomplish when they leave my classroom.”

Now in its 13th year, the NATAA Ag Academy is a professional development institute sponsored by DuPont and a special project of the National Association of Agricultural Educators. This year, Asbill joined other top-ranked agriscience teachers selected to engage in inquiry-based activities and explore state-of-the-art teaching concepts, with a majority of their training time in hands-on activities on DuPont’s working farm in Chestertown, Md. After receiving the certificate of completion in Mid-July, Asbill became an “Ag Ambassador,” joining the other 322 teachers from across the country having attended NATAA and earned that designation since the program began.

“We recognize the impact great teachers make. Agriscience teachers can create the inspiration and passion in students now that will inspire them to make the game-changing breakthroughs in agriculture and nutrition needed to feed the world in the next 30 years,” said Rik Miller, president, DuPont Crop Protection. “The Ag Academy is an important professional development experience that gives teachers the tools they need today to help students become agriscience innovators tomorrow.”

Opened in August 2012, The Center provides a standalone facility for District Five students to build technical skills, gain certifications and earn college credits. Attended by students from the district’s four high schools, the school offers high-tech courses in a variety of areas from biomedical science and auto mechanics to alternative energy and graphic design. The Center’s Agriculture & Biosystems Engineering Technology courses include basic principles of plant and animal science, agricultural crop study and research projects.

In late July at The Center, Asbill already is implementing teaching methods he learned at the academy to help a group of students prepare for an August goat showing competition. Students in Asbill’s classes are raising goats to learn hands-on about the care and management of animals.

“Mr. Asbill is definitely a great teacher,” said Bridget Williams, who takes Asbill’s class and wants to become a veterinarian. “He’s willing to work twenty-four hours a day if he has to, to help his students. I’ve learned a lot from his class.”

Asbill hopes his new designation and lessons from the academy will ultimately benefit his students.

“The agriculture industry accounts for nearly 20 percent of all jobs in this country and has a $41.7 billion impact annually in this state,” Asbill said. “In class we use inquiry-based learning that help students learn to identify problems, gather evidence, explain their findings, make real-world connections, then communicate those findings and connections effectively to an audience. I know every student I teach won’t go into agriculture…but I hope students leave my classroom as individuals who can think critically, problem solve, and be passionate about his or her work no matter what industry he or she enters.”




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