New Ag Mechanics Facility Gives Future Ag Teachers Hands-on Experience

AMES, Iowa "“ A new agricultural mechanics facility at Iowa State is helping meet the needs of students in agricultural education and studies and Iowa high school agriculture teachers. "For several years it has been a challenge to meet specific agricultural mechanics skill requirements of high school agriculture teachers. And it has been difficult to meet state standards," said Wade Miller, professor of agricultural education and studies and faculty advisor to the agricultural mechanics program. "The new shop allowed us to create a course, introduction to methods of teaching agricultural mechanics, to meet those needs." The facility provides over 2,100 square feet of teaching laboratory and classroom space within a 5,760 square foot building. It is located on the grounds of the student-managed Ag450 Farm south of Ames. Corn grown by the farm is burned in the building's boiler to generate radiant heat for the facility. The remainder of the building is used as a maintenance shop for equipment from the university's nearby research and teaching farms. In addition to undergraduate agricultural education courses and Ag450 Farm projects, the facility houses workshops for high school teachers each summer to help meet continuing education requirements. "There's a lot of learning happening at the shop," Miller says. "They learn how to manage a shop facility for students and get experience with the equipment." Michael Pate, graduate coordinator of the facility, is pursuing a Ph.D. in agricultural education. He helped gather equipment and set up the shop as well as design the curriculum for the undergraduate course and teacher education workshop. "We cover three skill areas: welding, small engine technology and electrification. And safety is addressed in every area," Pate said. "Students learn the skills and learn how to teach the skills to others." Pate hopes to start a second class with new skill sets as the laboratory acquires new equipment. The building was built with support from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on land donated by the Ag450 Farm. The Department of Agricultural Education and Studies has received and continues to encourage financial support and in-kind donations to equip the facility with the latest technology for students and teachers. -30-