Our October Teacher Feature is Karisa Cowan from Hoisington Middle School. Cowan has been teaching for five years and currently teaches sixth grade reading/language arts and science, seventh and eighth grade STEM courses, and middle and high school robotics.
Although Cowan has no previous background in agriculture, she says that she participated in a space agricultural program. She wanted to be in education ever since she was young and cites her own fourth grade teacher for sparking that passion. Cowan says that she would often stay in from recess when she was younger to help her classmates with their own homework and that’s when she knew she wanted to be a teacher.
There are quite a few ways Cowan integrates agriculture into her classroom. For instance, her classes perform earth science experiments in the greenhouse. Her students are figuring out different ways to increase yields while learning about alternative growing practices. Cowan teaches about pH, soil health, root systems, and other important earth science concepts through these lessons.
Because Cowan’s students are able to do real-life agricultural experiments, such as growing their own plants instead of just reading about it, she believes that her students thoroughly enjoy her classes and retain more information. Another aspect her students enjoy is the ability to consume their own produce in class.
Cowan firmly believes that it is important for students to learn about agriculture because agriculture helps sustain communities. Knowing about agriculture helps her students gain respect and an appreciation for the environment and the world around them. She also believes that engaging students promotes community involvement, leading to future commitment to their communities.
She is looking forward to using a new chickpea lesson plan because most of her students haven’t ever tried them before, and she knows her students like to try different foods, especially if they have grown the produce themselves.
One piece of advice she wants to share with other teachers is this: Go for it! It doesn’t matter if teachers aren’t an expert on a topic, what’s important is learning and sharing what you learn with others, so that everyone can grow together.