This year, I traded in my teacher summer vacation for a trip into the world of agricultural education. For five weeks, I interned at Bayer CropScience as a 2015-16 Kenan Fellow. From the beginning of my internship, I found numerous applications and connections for my fifth-grade students.
Naturally I think about the units I teach on ecosystems and genetics. I reflect on the tour I took of the bee care center and the passion that Bayer has for studying and promoting bee health. Seed trait research being conducted in the greenhouse also comes to mind and how I can relate this to teaching students about learned and inherited traits.
What about the 21st century skills that I can take back to my students? Whenever I shadowed employees, I would ask about their on-the-job goals. Surprisingly, every person had a people-related answer. For example, a scientist mentioned keeping his team motivated when trials are unsuccessful. A fifth grade student might expect the scientist’s goal to be success in research. This demonstrates that no matter how tech-savvy our world is communication and relationship skills will always be highly valued.
Making Science Make Sense
When it comes to genuinely engaging students in the work that takes place at Bayer CropScience, I am hoping to contribute to Bayer Corporation’s Making Science Make Sense® (MSMS) program. I plan to accomplish this by creating curriculum resources that can be used by employees related to CropScience and have a focus on biotechnology. The MSMS program is a companywide initiative that provides educational resources for teachers and employees for engaging students in science.
Another way I have been able to contribute to Bayer is through planning and leading Passage Home Wednesdays. Each Wednesday during the month of July Bayer partners with a program in downtown Raleigh serving at-risk youth by providing programming for their summer camp for students ages 5-15. In this opportunity, Bayer has found yet another way for me to blend into the company as an experienced teacher.
When I envisioned my experience as a Kenan Fellow, I expected everything to be new. I had not considered the possibility that time and effort would be put into integrating me and my expertise into the company. Even if I had considered this possibility, it has been more empowering than I could have ever imagined to see my skills and ability originally developed in a classroom setting put to use outside of the classroom. This experience has given new meaning for my work as an educator.
2015-16 Kenan Fellow Lindsey Hensler teaches fifth grade at Helena Elementary School in Person County Schools. She has been teaching for three years. Her fellowship was supported by Bayer CropScience.