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Purdue professors named winners of APLU’s Innovative Teaching Award

In recognition of their outstanding work, three Purdue University professors were named recipients of the Association of Public and Land-grant University’s 2017 Innovative Teaching Award.

Two of the professors are from Purdue’s College of Agriculture. Elizabeth Flaherty, assistant professor, and Patrick Zollner, associate professor, both in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, were recognized for their work, “Educational Workshop for Improving Student Success While Attending a Professional Conference.” Vanessa Quinn, a professor in the College of Engineering and Sciences at Purdue University Northwest, also was an honoree.

“Purdue’s College of Agriculture has had a strong history of emphasizing the value and quality of teaching,” said Dennis Buckmaster, assistant dean and associate director of the Office of Academic Programs. “It is great to see this recognized more broadly.”

The awards program, which is in its fourth year, is designed to promote innovation in the post-secondary teaching of agriculture and related fields. It also encourages new faculty to build upon their teaching skills by creating projects with more senior faculty from other institutions. APLU points out the interaction supports collaboration among institutions.

Awardees share $3,000 to use on classroom aids, travel, or other project needs. Flaherty and Zollner said the funds will help pay the costs of hosting their workshop at the Wildlife Society Annual Conference in Albuquerque, N.M.

“Being able to communicate and interact with professionals is a huge part of our field,” Flaherty said. “Seeing undergraduates accomplish that at a national conference really demonstrates our student success.”

Zollner also said the APLU support can have long-term benefits.

“We want to continue to interact and develop the class with faculty from other universities,” Zollner said. “The opportunity is there to go viral with this course.”

 A spokesperson for APLU said the award also helps to advance the recipients’ teaching careers.

“For junior faculty involved, this may be the first monetary award they receive, which, when combined with the mentoring by working with senior faculty on the project, should boost their abilities in the classroom,” said Wendy Fink, APLU Director of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources.

 Three professors from Purdue were among the 2016-2017 APLU award recipients. Elizabeth Karcher, assistant professor of Animal Sciences, Kara Stewart, assistant professor of Animal Sciences, and Ronald Lemenager, professor of Animal Sciences, were recognized for the “Development of a Novel Program to Expose Undergraduate Students to Key Issues in Animal Management.” They joined Dan Buskirk, associate professor at Michigan State University in receiving the honor.

Karcher, Stewart and Lemenager will present their results at NACTA 2017, a conference which will be held at Purdue June 28 to July 1. The theme of this year’s conference, which is sponsored by the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, is INnovation IN Learning IN the Heartland.

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