The 2012 Agriculture-Based Renewable Energy Professional Development Workshop provided 18 community college and high school agriculture and science teachers from the Midwest with instruction for bringing research on agriculture-based renewable energy technologies to the classroom. The workshop, funded by a USDA New Era Rural Technology Competitive Grants Program, was held June 11–14 at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Dr. Thomas Paulsen, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Education and Studies at Iowa State University, developed this one- to two-credit workshop. The instruction was an interactive, hands-on learning experience focused on a systems-based understanding of the role of energy in agriculture. To help teachers stay abreast of new technologies being developed and new research being conducted, the workshop addressed the renewable bioenergy work being done by Iowa State University and by private industry. Topics included an introduction to agricultural energy use and production and why it’s important. Participants were informed about how to teach about energy, biogas/anaerobic digestion, wind power, and biofuels. In addition to learning about new research and technology, the participants focused on how to translate what they learned into lesson plans and renewable energy laboratory activities that can be used in their classes.
From left to right: Workshop participants Bill Chase (Allen Consolidated High School), Robert Weis (Delaware Technical Community College), and Dan Stehlik (Republic County High School) with a wind turbine technician inside a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine at the Story County Wind Farm.
This workshop is part of the Ag Energy Iowa project—agricultural energy curriculum suitable for high school and higher education. The curriculum is based on science and practical use of energy and cost-saving techniques on farms. These free teaching materials provide a comprehensive set of learning modules that may be downloaded from the Ag Energy Iowa Web site at www.agenergyia.org. The goal in creating these modules is to offer a one-stop shop for agricultural energy modules that instructors can use in their classrooms. Each module includes a PowerPoint presentation, learning objectives, topics covered, and a user guide for information on how to use the curriculum. PowerPoint was used so instructors can modify the presentations to suit their individual programs.
The Ag Energy Iowa project is a collaboration between the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC) at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, Iowa State University, Hawkeye Community College, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more details about the workshop and/or the curriculum, feel free to contact Linda Baxley, Director of ATEEC.