University of La Verne Professor of Biology Dr. Stacey Darling-Novak will present at the 2013 North American Colleges & Teachers of Agriculture, NACTA, conference to be held June 25-29, 2013 in Blacksburg Virginia.
Darling-Novak originally submitted an abstract about service learning with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Hispanic-Serving Institution National Program grant La Verne has receive for a poster presentation, but was asked to speak about the topic instead.
“This is a well-known conference in the agricultural sciences, currently in its 59th year,” Darling-Novak said. “Its focus is on teaching students in agriculture-related disciplines, and plant biology falls into this domain. With the USDA grant we have begun offering a new option within the Environmental Biology concentration called Agricultural Biology.”
In line with La Verne’s mission of service and working with the community, Darling-Novak wants others to understand that it is possible to integrate service learning into science programs. Students in the sciences who participate in service learning are able to share their knowledge and passion with the community.
The USDA-HIS funded program has given La Verne students the opportunity to develop laboratory lessons and activities to share with local high school students, including underrepresented groups of students. Senior Roshan Gamage, Junior Lila Luna and Senior Avneet Nijjar have all benefited from the USDA program.
In a paper they wrote about the USDA-HIS program, the students said “These experiences coupled with student research grants funded by the USDA, allowed for undergraduates to confidently conduct research projects.”
Participating La Verne students are also provided with an opportunity to develop leadership, organizational and research skills.
Much of the outreach done through this program is to predominantly Hispanic schools, which resulted in a 40 percent Hispanic student enrollment rate in the 2012 summer camp hosted by La Verne students.
The conference in June will allow Darling-Novak the opportunity to share what La Verne students and faculty are doing in an effort to further develop the biology department and build lasting relationships with the community. She will also be joined by Luna and Gamage who are preparing to present a poster at the conference.