Gainesville, Fla. — Rebecca Baldwin, associate professor of entomology and nematology in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), received the National Teaching and Student Engagement Award from the United States Department of Agriculture.
This award is one of two given this year, celebrating university faculty in the food and agricultural sciences for their use of innovative teaching
methods and service to students.
Baldwin began her journey as an entomologist in her last year of elementary school, when a 4-H leader recruited her for an insect identification competition. Through this competition, Baldwin began to appreciate the importance of insects in agriculture. In her current role, she teaches courses and serves as the undergraduate coordinator for the UF/IFAS entomology and nematology department, inspiring the next generation of entomologists.
“Dr. Baldwin’s energy in the classroom and commitment to her students is unmatched,” said CALS Dean Elaine Turner. “She is constantly seeking out innovative methods to connect with students, and I’m proud that she is being recognized as a leader in teaching.”
Baldwin recognizes the positive impact of her mentors and strives to be the same kind of resource for her students, both inside and outside the classroom and outside of it.
Students Brett LaBella and Jordyn Ranfone, previous president and vice president of the Entomology Club, acknowledge their advisor’s impact on their time at UF, writing, “We wholeheartedly believe our college journey would not have been so successful if we had not met Dr. Baldwin. She taught how us how to effectively communicate science to people of all backgrounds.”
Along with her dedication to student mentorship, Baldwin has also worked to ensure that underrepresented, first generation, low-income and disabled students are introduced to career and graduate school opportunities. Under Baldwin’s leadership, the department has doubled the number of entomology and nematology majors, tripled the number students seeking the entomology and nematology minor, and has extended its availability to students taking courses online.
“Dr. Baldwin’s creative approaches to classroom and outreach activities, and her dedication to make education more accessible to all students set a high standard for what engagement means on our campus,” Turner said.
Baldwin’s award was presented at the 135th annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, held in Denver, Colorado.
ABOUT THE UF/IFAS COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURAL AND LIFE SCIENCES
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.