K-State Department of Agronomy brings home awards from national conference

A Kansas State University professor and several graduate students were recognized for excellence in teaching recently by the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture. The awards were given at NACTA’s annual conference June 12 to 15 at Iowa State University. The conference provides an opportunity for teaching professionals in agriculture, food, and natural resources to connect and learn about new teaching techniques, ideas, and resources.

Each year, NACTA recognizes individuals whose efforts represent the best in higher education instruction in agriculture. Members of NACTA are from public and private two-year and four-year colleges. The K-State Department of Agronomy brought home several teaching awards for 2018.

Michel “Mickey” Ransom, professor of agronomy, received the NACTA Educator Award. In his 34-year career at K-State, Ransom has been involved in nearly every aspect of the college experience. In addition to teaching several undergraduate and graduate courses, he has served as the assistant head for teaching in the department since 2000. He has also invested in students through experiential learning as the soil judging team coach. The team has experienced regional and national success under his guidance. Ransom was recently named interim department head for agronomy.

Three agronomy graduates were honored with the NACTA Graduate Student Teaching Award: Tiffany Carter, a doctoral candidate under the supervision of Charles Rice; Che-Jen “Jerry” Hsiao, a doctoral candidate under the supervision of Gretchen Sassenrath and Charles Rice; and Erin Bush, a master’s student under the supervision of Mickey Ransom. This award is for NACTA graduate student members that are involved in classroom instruction and excel as teachers in agriculture.

To qualify for the award, a graduate student must have been involved in classroom teaching for a minimum of one year. A graduate student’s teaching philosophy, statement of support from supervising faculty, evaluations submitted by students and an administrative officer, a self-evaluation, involvement in teaching outside the classroom, and a description of the candidate’s specific teaching involvement are considered. All three K-State graduate students taught laboratory sections of an introductory soil science course under the supervision of Colby Moorberg. Bush also serves as a coach for the soil judging team and helps teach a class in soils judging.