AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University will host a national conference with 325 agricultural teachers from 65 universities and colleges nationwide. The 2018 North American College and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) 64th Annual Conference will be held on campus June 12-15.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden is a lead organizer for the conference and will begin her term as president of NACTA at the conclusion of the conference. VanDerZanden, Iowa State associate provost for academic programs and professor of horticulture, said this year’s conference theme is Grow Your Adventure, which builds on Iowa State’s recruitment theme Choose Your Adventure.
VanDerZanden said the conference gives teachers a chance to connect and learn from peers who share the same passion for teaching and learning in agriculture, food and natural resources. Participants also share new teaching techniques, approaches, ideas and resources.
“The NACTA conference is an outstanding professional development opportunity and it provides a chance to network with other agriculture faculty where the common discipline is teaching,” VanDerZanden said.
The conference includes an award presentation. Erik Christian, a lecturer in Iowa State’s agronomy department and now works for Land O’Lakes, won the NACTA Judging and Student Services award.
The conference will include poster sessions, workshops and local agricultural tours that include the Dolittle Prairie, Ledges State Park, Pioneer Hi-Bred headquarters in Johnston, John Deere in Ankeny, the Iowa State Capitol, Meredith Corporation, the World Food Prize Building and the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
Iowa State tours include the Horticulture Research Station, Biocentury Research Farm, the Jeff and Deb Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center, the ISU Dairy Farm, the AG 450 Farm, which is the only student managed farm in the nation, and Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in Sukup and Elings Halls.
VanDerZanden said planning and organizing such a conference takes communication and coordination between many people. The organizing committee at Iowa State included Chris Currey, an assistant professor of horticulture; Cindy Haynes, an associate professor of horticulture; Mike Retallick, professor and department chair of agricultural education and studies, and Jodi Sterle, the Eldred and Donna Harman Professorship for Excellence in Teaching and Learning associate professor of animal science.