Teaching

My program integrates teaching and applied research in organic horticultural production systems. I am committed to undergraduate and graduate education and my teaching mission is to create life-long learners, with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence in horticultural science and food systems. I utilize skills-based and active learning strategies in the classroom to empower students to take control of their learning. Much of my teaching is focused on developing strong critical thinking and oral and written communication skills. It is important for me to create a safe learning environment for all students and I have a strong interest in promoting inter-cultural competency, fostering the ability of my students to work across difference, and the ability to explore problems through different lenses.

Classes

students on a field trip picture FDSY 1016W: Growing Food and Building Community: Urban Ag in the Twin Cities

 Fall semester

Course Overview:
Our metropolis has a vibrant local food movement. The cultivation of nourishing food in our urban centers helps bridge the gap in the food system, empowers youth, connects us to our neighbors and makes our city safer. Neighborhood community gardens, urban farm businesses and educational gardens and parks are all examples of urban agriculture. Topics discussed include basic horticulture and production practices, soil health and environmental quality issues, and public policy and regulations of urban farms. This class integrates community partners via field trips, classroom visits, and community-engaged learning.  Students in this class will be able to recognize social differences of race, ethnicity and class; improve intercultural competence skills as a foundation for positive cross-cultural relationships; and, through place-based learning, gain an awareness of how urban agriculture can be a force for change.


vegetables growing in high tunnels picture  HORT 5032: Organic Vegetable Production

Every other spring semester
Course prerequisites: BIOL 1009/HORT 1001 and SOIL 2125

Course Overview:
This class is focused on the science of organic agriculture and is designed for graduate students. In this class, we will emphasize the relationships between the various disciplines within the framework of sustainable agriculture, which encompasses agricultural productivity, economic viability, environmental conservation and social equity, and how this relates to the regulatory framework supporting organic certification.

We will explore a holistic view of the agricultural food system, or systems that adhere to the “deep organic” philosophy of food production. Organic farms are very diverse, and we will compare and contrast aspects of sustainability within these systems and recognize current challenges in improving sustainability.

The systems involved in developing, producing, and marketing vegetable crops are neither static nor independent—rather, quite dynamic in their relationships. This should be considered as we progress through the various study areas so that you can integrate and explore the connections between them. For example: site selection, land preparation, environmental interaction, specialized equipment, plant reproductive biology and plant genetics, seed selection and seed saving, cultural management practices during crop growth and development, water management, control of insects, diseases and weeds, post-harvest handling and food safety, marketing and commodity use, nutritional and medicinal uses, will all be explored. The format of this class is 80% student-led discussion, 20% lecture. Class work consists of reading 3 scientific publications per week and grant writing.


botanical garden image ESPM 3108/5108: Ecology of Managed Landscapes

Co-instructed Fall, even years.

This course examines the ecology of ecosystems that are primarily composed of managed plant communities, such as managed forests, field-crop agroecosystems, rangelands, and some nature reserves and parks. This course explores how the structure and function of managed ecosystems (for example, the spatial pattern of different plant species across a landscape) affect their properties, with focus on key ecosystem properties such as productivity, resource-use efficiency, nutrient cycling, and resilience. Emerging principles for design of sustainable managed ecosystems that meet multiple human needs will be examined. In addition, the societal implications of these management decisions and processes are explored. Importantly, this course focuses on several environmental issues of current major significance, including invasive species, air and water pollution, and global climate change.


image of students and raised beds with vegetables and herbs  HORT 4096W: Professional Experience Internship

Fall semester 

This course provides an opportunity for professional experience in plant science achieved through a supervised practical experience.  In 4096W, students will also produce a final publication that is focused on writing for lay audiences.  This writing project will start just before the internship begins and end approximately two months after the internship is complete.  HORT 4096W may not be repeated, while HORT 4096 can be repeated. HORT 4096W has been approved as an Experiential Learning course within the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences.