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Roche Scholars Program Highlights Teaching Excellence at UF/IFAS CALS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – UF/IFAS entomology and nematology lecturer, Jennifer Weeks, had the desire to revise her Life Science for Educators course in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) to incorporate a service-learning component. The CALS Roche Teaching Scholars program provided Weeks the perfect training opportunity for her to accomplish this teaching goal.

“We are fortunate in CALS that Dean Elaine Turner is committed to providing exciting professional development opportunities for faculty,” Weeks said. “I feel the Roche Teaching Scholars program has really allowed me to blossom and evolve as an educator.”

As faculty gain experience, many are eager to redesign courses to incorporate innovative teaching techniques and provide experiential learning opportunities. Through the CALS Teaching Resource Center, the Roche Teaching Scholars program began with its first class of educators in January 2018.

“We have observed a need for professional development of mid-career teaching faculty,” said Grady Roberts, director of the CALS Teaching Resource Center and professor in the UF/IFAS department of agricultural education and communication. “The goal of this program is to enhance the learning experience for CALS students by developing dynamic teaching faculty.”

The Roche Teaching Scholars program lasts a full year and includes four active learning sessions. Participants assess who they are as teachers and identify unique characteristics that influence how they teach, learn course design strategies, attend the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture annual conference to engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning, and learn about educational policy and administration.

“I really enjoyed having the opportunity to participate in a variety of assessments that helped identify my own teaching, learning, and problem-solving style,” Weeks said. “I think the more we understand about ourselves as learners and the diversity of other types of learners that exist along the continuum, the better able we are to incorporate a diversity of teaching styles into the classroom environment that appeal broadly and will help students feel engaged and succeed.”

2018 Roche Teaching Scholars.

2018 Roche Teaching Scholars.

The following participants graduated from the 2018 class of Roche Teaching Scholars:

  • Robert Ahrens, UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation, fisheries and aquatic sciences
  • Steven Johnson, UF/IFAS department of wildlife ecology and conservation
  • Peter Kima, UF/IFAS department of microbiology and cell science
  • Suzanna Smith, UF/IFAS department of family, youth and community sciences
  • Andrew Thoron, UF/IFAS department of agricultural education and communication
  • Jennifer Weeks, UF/IFAS department of entomology and nematology
  • Xin Zhao, UF/IFAS department of horticultural sciences

The following participants have been accepted into the 2019 class of Roche Teaching Scholars:

  • Shirley Baker, UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation
  • Wendy Dahl, UF/IFAS department of food science and human nutrition
  • Larry Forthun, UF/IFAS department of family, youth and community sciences
  • Jamie Loizzo, UF/IFAS department of agricultural education and communication
  • Anne Mathews, UF/IFAS department of food science and human nutrition
  • Hector Perez, UF/IFASF department of environmental horticulture

The Roche Teaching Scholars program is made possible through funding provided by the Marion C. Roche and Virginia T. Roche Faculty Excellence Endowment. Marion Roche earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural and Extension education from CALS in 1936 as well as a master’s in education in 1941 and a master’s in food and resource economics from CALS in 1952.

Though born in Walton County, Marion Roche made Ocala his home and started the first agriculture program at Ocala High School in 1936. He worked in the Marion County education system for 52 years, and served as Director of Vocational, Technical and Adult Education from 1963-1988.

If you would like to learn more about how you can support CALS’ outstanding faculty in the area of teaching, visit this link or contact Christy Chiarelli at ccw@ufl.edu or by phone at 352-273-0353.

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The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) administers the degree programs of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is to deliver unsurpassed educational programs that prepare students to address the world’s critical challenges related to agriculture, food systems, human wellbeing, natural resources and sustainable communities. The college has received more total (national and regional combined) USDA teaching awards than any other institution. Visit the CALS website at cals.ufl.edu, and follow CALS on social media platforms at @ufcals.

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