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Program objective: increase the understanding of agriculture and sustainability in high school classrooms.

August 7, 2023

3 Min Read
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An online professional development program is available to train high school culinary and hospitality teachers in agricultural sciences and sustainability.Shelley E. Huguley

New Mexico State University’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management and Arrowhead Center’s Innoventure Program have teamed up to establish an online professional development program to train high school culinary and hospitality teachers in the agricultural sciences and sustainability.

The program – funded by a $500,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture – aims to increase participants’ knowledge of agricultural systems and sustainability over five courses and an immersive, in-person summer workshop.

HRTM Director Jean Hertzman, who serves as the project director, said teachers who participate in the program will develop and apply skills necessary for integrating food and agricultural science concepts into their classes. They will also explore opportunities available in food and agriculture-related career paths and forge mentorships with professionals, business leaders and faculty at four-year higher education institutions.

“The objective is to bring more knowledge of agriculture and sustainability into high school classrooms,” Hertzman said. “Essentially, we’re training the trainers – high school teachers – so their students can learn about these concepts and carry them into their future educational and professional endeavors.”

The program will have three cohorts of 20 teachers over the four-year grant. Hertzman said she will recruit teachers primarily from New Mexico and El Paso for the first group. She then expects to expand recruiting efforts beyond the state and region in the subsequent years. The first cohort will begin the first course this October.

The five courses will cover agriculture and culinary connections; purchasing and supply chain management with an emphasis on local and sustainable foods; sustainability in food service and hotels; agricultural innovation and entrepreneurship; and agricultural, culinary and rural tourism. NMSU Global Campus will deliver the courses.

Each course spans about eight weeks, and participants should expect to spend an average of 20 hours for each course, Hertzman said.

“The ultimate goal is to train the next generation of culinarians and hospitality managers with the skills needed to ensure the effective and socially responsible use of resources from the producer to the end-user and consumers,” Hertzman said.

Participants will conclude the program by attending an immersive, four-day workshop in Las Cruces. The workshop will include lectures, culinary and product demonstrations, hands-on cooking experiences in HRTM’s 100 West Café, on-campus visits to NMSU’s animal facilities, meat lab, Chile Pepper Institute, greenhouses and several off-campus visits.

The workshop will involve group projects and provide opportunities for participants to show their leadership skills. Hertzman said the grant will cover all costs for each participant, including class, travel and lodging expenses.

“There’s growing national and global discussion and awareness about the changes in agriculture and the relationship between agriculture and sustainability,” she said. “This program will provide educators with the resources to understand these issues and incorporate them into their classrooms.”

For more information about the program, contact Hertzman at 575-646-4786 or [email protected]. Teachers can apply to be part of the first cohort by completing a short questionnaire at https://bit.ly/3OjSCOb.

This program is supported by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, AFRI Agricultural Workforce Training Priority Area, award No. 2023-67037-39940.

Source: New Mexico State University, Carlos Carrillo Lopez, communications specialist

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